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Can you name the number one agricultural product in retail value produced by California? You guessed it… wine! In fact, California’s wine industry is so huge it ranks fourth in the world. And while Napa and Sonoma get all the glory, there’s many wine regions in the High Sierra that host award winning wines. For those of you oenophiles (i.e. lovers of wine) out there, you may want to consider a road trip to each of these lesser known Northern California Wineries for some wine tasting.

Madera Wine Trail

Madera Wine Trail California Wine Month
Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

If you’re looking to experience a little bit of the “old country” with California’s relaxed vibes, look no further than the legendary Madera Wine Trail. One of the oldest regions for wine-making in America, only a handful survived the prohibition era. Luckily, in the 1930’s a few picked up the baton. The area has long been producing award-winning wines which includes port and dessert variations as well as other unique varietals. To learn more about the wine trail, check out Visit Yosemite | Madera County’s article: Explore One Of The OLDEST Wine Regions in the US – The Madera Wine Trail.


Irish Vineyards – one of the many to visit in Calaveras AVA – Image appears courtesy: Calaveras County Tourism Bureau

Another fantastic area to consider visiting for wine tasting is Calaveras County, located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Due to its hot dry climate, the area produces fantastic Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel varietals. The largest concentration of wineries can be found in and around Murphys. Each of the historic downtown areas of Murphys, Angels Camp, and Mokelumne Hill make great basecamps to explore the premium wines produced here.


Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

If you’re planning on heading into Yosemite via the Arch Rock entrance, we highly recommend staying in Mariposa. This quaint town just 45 minutes from the boundary provides a refreshing basecamp that you can also spend some time taking wine tasting tours after your adventures in the park. Even as a relative newcomer, the wines from this area are award-winning AND at affordable prices too. For more about the wineries in the area, check out the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau page.

Tuolumne County

The iconic covered bridge at Indigeny Reserve – Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne County

Have a friend or partner that isn’t a wine lover? Well, Tuolumne County has you covered. In addition to an assortment of wineries, there’s another must visit: Indigeny Reserve. They produce hard cider, flavored vodka, and brandy from the apples grown on the ranch. Nearly 20,000 Granny Smiths, 400 Red Rome, and 7,000 Honeycrisp trees on the 160-acre property help make this one of the Mother Lode’s tourist attraction. To learn more about Indigeny Reserve and the wineries, check out this Tuolumne County Wine and Cider Tasting post.  

We hope this fuels your wanderlust. Not just to explore the great outdoors, but also to check out the small businesses of the High Sierra. As they say in Italy – Saluti!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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