California as a wine producing region has grown in size and importance considerably over the past couple of centuries, and today is the proud producer of more than ninety percent of the United States' wines. Indeed, if California was a country, it would be the fourth largest producer of wine in the world, with a vast range of vineyards covering almost half a million acres. The secret to California's success as a wine region has a lot to do with the high quality of its soils, and the fact that it has an extensive Pacific coastline which perfectly tempers the blazing sunshine it experiences all year round. The winds coming off the ocean cool the vines, and the natural valleys and mountainsides which make up most of the state's wine regions make for ideal areas in which to cultivate a variety of high quality grapes.
The North Coast region encompasses some of the finest vineyards in the state, running south from Mendocino on the coast, through Lake County and Sonoma, and eastward to the Napa Valley.
Mendocino & Lake County, for some, Mendocino means the quaint, artsy village perched on a cliff above the Pacific. But Mendocino County is also wine country. Many of the region's vineyards are tucked among the redwoods, sheltered from the fog and wind of the Pacific by the protective mantle of the Coastal Range Mountains. Sunny enclaves, such as Redwood and Potter Valleys, produce fine Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. On the other hand, the more-exposed Anderson Valley is extremely cool, ideal for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in still and sparkling styles. Well inland from the Pacific Ocean, just about everything from Chardonnay to Zinfandel does well in very warm regions such as Clear Lake and Guenoc Valley in Lake County. Of note, there are vineyards of so-called Old Vine Zinfandel plantings of long ago, sprinkled across the region. There is renewed interest in making wine from these old, historic vines.