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    2023’s Best California Wine Counties

    2023’s Best California Wine Counties

    California is the nation’s wine garden and wine cellar, but which counties produce the most award-winning reds and whites, host the most wine tours, and are most popular and affordable for wine connoisseurs to visit?

    LawnStarter pored over the data to uncork 2023’s Best California Wine Counties. They compared all 58 counties based on five categories broken down into 18 key metrics. Find out which 10 California counties are wine in a million below, followed by some highlights and lowlights from the report. (See where the counties rank.)

    Highlights and Lowlights

    On Cloud Wine in the North Coast

    Napa is our Best California Wine County again this year. You won’t go thirsty at the home of three-Michelin-starred The French Laundry. Napa outnumbers all other California counties in vintners, with nearly 270 more than Sonoma (No. 2) and 840 more than San Luis Obispo (No. 3). What’s more, Napa wines earned the most gold medals over the past four years.

    It’s hard not to pair Napa with Sonoma, the next most recognizable name in California wine and unsurprisingly our silver medalist. Previously in third place, Sonoma overtook Stanislaus County in our ranking this year, thanks to Sonoma’s unmatched access to wine, numerous awards, and the most events celebrating the county’s amore for vino.

    “Dry” Counties

    The counties at the bottom of our ranking should come as no surprise — viticulture isn’t big here. Kings County finished last overall, bested by Merced, Colusa, Modoc, and Alpine counties (in that order).

    These counties might lack their own famous wines, but close proximity to California’s top wine regions is a huge advantage. Merced, for example, lies just south of Stanislaus County (No. 6). Kings shares a border with both Central Region counties Monterey (No. 10) and Fresno (No. 30). Colusa is a short drive — or Uber ride, depending on how much you drink — to Napa, Sonoma, and Lake (No. 12).

    The Grape Escape

    One day is not enough to explore all of California’s amazing wines — let alone a single county saturated with wineries. If you can swing it, plan at least a three-day tour of clustered counties, and make sure your itinerary includes counties that balance both high-quality wine and (inebriated) visitor-friendliness.

    Those include some of our top five, but don’t overlook counties outside of that elite group. Riverside (No. 7), for example, ranks decently in taste and placed first in Accommodations. Mendocino (No. 8) earned high marks in Access and Accolades, as well as top-15 rankings in both Entertainment and Accommodations. Placer (No. 21) is a third great option, with top-30 rankings across all categories.

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    2023’s Best Califo…

    by The Editors Of The Fox Magazine Time to read this article: 6 min