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Here’s What’s Happening Around California

Quaking aspen, Hope Valley (9/15/17) Phillip Reedy

With just four days to go before the Autumnal Equinox, anxious readers have been asking, “What’s happening!?” So, we reached out to our network of color spotters and received these reports.

Bishop Creek Canyon – Just Starting to Patchy – Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort says it’s been “very odd weather wise” all summer. He said unseasonably warm August temperatures have delayed the emergence of fall color high up in Bishop Creek Canyon, west of Bishop (Inyo County). However, Jared says, “there’s been a marked difference in the past four days, since we began waking up to frost on the ground.” Still, the aspen are “super spotty,” though changing rapidly. Jared plans to provide a more extended report this week. So, stay tuned.

For those of you who’ve never had the delight of staying at Parcher’s, it’s at 9,200′ in elevation and surrounded by great fly fishing and aspen forests. The resort has so few cabins that it’s often difficult getting one, but here’s an insider tip… reserve a cabin there anytime after Mule Days (a Bishop tradition over the Memorial Day Weekend) during the first two weeks of June and you’ll be treated to a beautiful, uncrowded time of year. The fishing is out of this world, as is the welcome by Parcher’s knowledgeable staff. And, you’ll be able to see the aspen dressed in their freshest green.

Quaking Aspen, Hope Valley (9/15/17) Phillip Reedy

Hope Valley – Just Starting – Phillip Reedy found these jewels carried downstream in the Hope Valley. Phil cautions that it’s still to early to see much color, but if you’ll be there, look down to find colorful harbingers of what’s coming.

North Coast – Just Starting – Max Forster reports that bigleaf maple are beginning their show of gold and bright yellow along spots along the Redwood Highway (US 101).

Mendocino County – Just Starting – Koleen Hamblin reports that autumn marks the arrival of Mendocino County’s coveted candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and hedgehog mushrooms. Mendocino County is a hotspot of mushroom hunting with 3,000 varieties sprouting there, 500 of which are edible. CLICK HERE for a link to fungi foraging sites, tours, walks, rides, botanical gardens and cooking classes… all happening in Mendocino County during autumn. This is such a fun fall outing, that we plan a followup report on it.

Colorado – Patchy – North Coast color spotter Walt Gabler said a mid September drive through Colorado found lots of patchy yellow in the aspen. What’s happening in the Rockies is what should be happening in the Sierra, were it not for the hot August we experienced.

Lassen Volcanic National Park – Just Starting – Darrell Sano found lots of still-green aspen along the road to Butte Lake inside Lassen Volcanic National Park. The same was happening in Chico and along state highways 36, 44, 89, 128, 299, as he criss-crossed northern California.

Weaverville – Just Starting – Darrell reports that this scenic and historic town survived this past summer’s wildfires, though stretches of twisted metal and the burnt out remains of homes and cars left by the fire provide a surrealistic landscape through which to pass. Weaverville’s bigleaf maple and black oak are still standing by the Trinity River, so the color should be dramatic against the ashen landscape.

Lake/Napa/Sonoma Vineyards – Just Starting – Darrell tasted a little wine country, returning via Clear Lake to Pope Valley, seeing the lushly green vines along highway 29 and the Silverado Trail loaded with fruit.

Berkeley Hills – Just Starting to Patchy – The exotics are speckled with saturated eye candy in the Berkeley Hills says SF Bay Area color spotter Darrell Sano. He sends these shots taken while wandering the Berkeley Hills, yesterday.  Now, that’s a happy wanderer.

Berkeley Hills (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

Berkeley Hills (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

Sunflower Helianthus SP, Berkeley Hills (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luculia Gratissima, Berkeley Hills (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

Dogwood, Berkeley Hills (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

Japanese Maple, UC Berkeley campus (9/17/17) Darrell Sano

California’s Longest Peak

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

California’s longest lasting peak occurs in its vineyards.

Fall color begins peaking by grape variety in October and continues through November.

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Gene Miller visited the Napa Valley yesterday and captured these images along CA-29 and the Silverado Trail.

He reported, “the whole area is alive with color,” admitting, “I passed up a lot of shots as my wine tasting took priority.”

Napa Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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High 81°/Low 48°
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High 84°/Low 45°
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High 79°/Low 48°
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High 67°/Low 49°
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Napa County Nears Peak by Vineyard

Vines, Lower Chiles Valley, Napa County (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Lower Chiles Valley (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Wooden Valley, Napa County (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Wooden Valley Winery, Suisun Valley (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Chimney Rock Winery

Chimney Rock Winery, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Redcap Vineyards, Angwin (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Redcap Vineyards, Angwin (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Lower Chiles Valley, Napa County (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Lower Chiles Valley, Napa County (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

South of Rudd Winery, Yountville

South of Rudd Winery, Yountville (10/20/16) Marc Hoshovsky

Marc Hoshovski wondered why he hadn’t seen photos of fall color in the vineyards yet posted on this site.

We were wondering the same and hoping to get them from photographers and spotters before the best color peaked.

Marc’s shots show that the vineyards are prepped to peak successively over the next three weeks. That gives photographers and spotters plenty of time to head to the wine country and see magical color.

If you explore wine country backroads, be aware that the vines don’t all turn at the same time. The show develops by individual vineyard. As, autumn color matures by grape variety.

Napa County Vineyards (sea level to 2000’)Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Vineyards in Napa Valley and higher valleys to the east are turning yellow and red. There’s still a lot of green leaves to be seen, indicating they will continue to improve over the next two weeks. Higher elevations (1000-2000’)  are showing more red than the floor of Napa Valley. Drive east on Howell Mountain Road (near St Helena) to Pope Valley and Chiles Valley for these colors.

Partly Cloudy
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High 81°/Low 48°
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Tuesday
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High 84°/Low 45°
Clear
Wednesday
Clear
High 79°/Low 48°
Partly Cloudy
Thursday
Partly Cloudy
High 67°/Low 49°

DogTrekking in the Vineyards

Dogtrekker.com

Dogtrekker.com

Dogtrekker.com is the CaliforniaFallColor.com of traveling with dogs in California.

So, it was a satisfying bone to chew, reading this week’s number about autumn treks to wine country with man’s best friend.

The issue describes what to expect on visits to Mendocino County, the Suisun Valley and Vacaville, the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, setting readers up for great trips to California’s best wines and fall color in the vineyards.

CLICK HERE to read Dogtrekker’s report on spending autumn days in the vineyards with Fido.

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Napa Valley: Perfectly Paired for Thanksgiving Day

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

The Napa Valley is perfectly paired to provide beautiful fall color through Thanksgiving Day (conditions permitting). And, where do fall color photographers head on the weekend before Thanksgiving, when Tioga Pass is closed (and even if it weren’t, the color was gone from the Eastern Sierra weeks ago)? They head to wine country.

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darrell Sano did just that and sends back this collection of beautiful photographs taken this morning of the Napa Valley at peak. He got up early to catch the morning light warming the vines as balloons floated across the valley in the crisp and still November air. Then, he followed the color, finding brilliant yellows and reds in the vineyards.

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Color spotter Santha Kumar V A was similarly satisfied after visiting Oakville, yesterday. He writes that it is “bursting golden.’ Santha tasted the golden color of a boulevard of ginkgo biloba trees beside rows of peaking yellow vines, in an image he calls, “Two Sides.”

During this season, indeed the Napa Valley has two sides: its full fall color and its full-flavored wines.

Color spotters Susan Taylor and Jas E Miner also found wine country to their taste, capturing vines and boulevards full of peak color in Napa and Sonoma counties.

All this makes wine country a best bet for fall color getaways over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Napa Valley

 

 

Napa Valley (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Slusser Barn, Sonoma County (11/11/15) Susan Taylor

Slusser Barn, Sonoma County (11/11/15) Susan Taylor

Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa County (11/20/15) Jas E. Miner

Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa County (11/20/15) Jas E. Miner

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Mendocino Wine Country Ages Nicely

US 101, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Vineyard, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Russian River (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Russian River near Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

US 101, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Vineyard, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Aricultural fields, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Agricultural fields, south of Ukiah (11/16/15) Walter Gabler

Mendocino County color spotter Walter Gabler reports that vineyards between Hopland and Ukiah along U.S. 101 have developed into a blend of green, yellow, orange and burgundy.

He writes, “The cold snap we had last week really put us into fall.  The colors are now popping between Ukiah and Hopland.”

Heading south from Ukiah on U.S. 101, Simaine Cellars, Rivino Winery, Nelson Family Vineyards, Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery, Saracina Vineyards and Campovida Winery are developing color by grape variety. Some vines are bright yellow, others are deep red and still others have yet to change.

Nearby, fields and forests along the Russian River are being gilded with fall color.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Redwood Highway (Hopland north to Ukiah)

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Vintage Napa & Ukiah Fall Color – GO NOW!

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (11/6/14) Marc Hoshovsky

Napa Valley (Peak 75-100%) – Color spotter Marc Hoshovsky was driven by curiosity to the Napa Valley, after not seeing any recent reports from wine country.

What he tasted on a color spotting trip, yesterday, was a well-balanced blend of mature fall colors that is ready to drink.

Marc drove the Mt Vreeder Road on the west side of the Napa Valley and descending to the floor of the valley, continuing north along the Silverado Trail from Yountville to Deer Park Road .  He writes, “… the colors were really wonderful.”

As we have noted previously, vineyards change by location and grape variety.  It may be peaking in one vineyard, past peak in another and not even close in a third – all within a given location.  Though, what Marc reported, “… was easily Near Peak, if not Peak.”

He continued up to Pope Valley and Chiles Valley before returning to Davis. “Those valleys are in similar state of color. Very nice.” GO NOW!

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Ukiah Valley (Peak 75-100%) – Mendocino County color spotter Walter Gabler responds with these images of vines in the Ukiah Valley.  Note that the different grape varieties show color differently.  GO NOW!

Saracina Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Saracina Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Nelson Family Vineyards (11/4/14) Walter Gabler

Exotic color in Ukiah (11/7/14) Walter Gabler

Exotic color in Ukiah (11/7/14) Walter Gabler

 

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Amador County Looks/Tastes Delicious

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Amador County – Color spotter Dotty Molt forwards these lovely photos taken in the vineyards of Amador County and reports that thanks to Robin Bray of Bray Vineyards, Dotty was allowed to “wander in and around beautiful multi-colored vines.”  She adds, “The colors are at peak, and if you’re headed that way, try to get there soon as the weather is changing.  And make sure you stop in for a tasting. Yum!”

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

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Temecula/Mt. Laguna/Lake Hemet – Vintage Color

Temecula Wine Country (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Temecula Wine Country (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Color spotter Brian Reilly took these beautiful images at Thornton Winery on the Rancho California Road in Temecula.  This Southern California wine growing region is showing about 50% color.

Old vines make great wine, Temecula (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Old vines make great wine, Temecula (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Dessicated grapes, beyond late harvest, Temecula (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

Desicated grapes, beyond late harvest; Temecula (10/27/13) Brian Reilly

30 – 50% – Temecula Wine Country – The vineyards are getting close to peaking and considering the color now visible, we’d have no problem suggesting you GO NOW!, though we expect the color to continue to develop for the next couple of weeks.

San Diego County

So. Calif. color spotter Son H Nguyen reports, “There is not much in Julian, right now,” aside from exotic “Chinese pistache starting to turn in town. There is not much on Pine Hill and it”s around 30-50%.  However, Mt. Laguna is blazing, right now. So many black oak trees, the whole area is near peak.”

30 – 50% – Julian – Best at Pine Hill.

Oaks, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

Black oaks, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

Black oaks, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

Black oaks, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

Black Oak, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

Black oak, Mt Laguna (10/27/13) Son H Nguyen

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – Mt. Laguna – Full peak at oak woodlands on Mt. Laguna in eastern San Diego County.

GO NOW! 50 – 75% – San Jacinto Mountains – Color spotter Anissa Granados from Lake Hemet Campgrounds sends this photo of cottonwood approaching peak at Lake Hemet.  Anissa says the trees ringing the lake and campgrounds provide a lovely setting to be surrounded by fall color.

Lake Hemet Campgrounds (10/29/13) Anissa Granados

Lake Hemet Campgrounds (10/29/13) Anissa Granados

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Vintage Year for Wine Country

Calistoga, Napa Valley (File Photo) John Poimiroo

Calistoga, Napa Valley (File Photo) John Poimiroo

Reports from wine growing regions in northern and central California describe beautiful color in the vineyards with different varieties showing maroon, crimson, orange, yellow and lime grape leaves.  All but a few late harvest grapes remain on the vines.

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Clara and Contra Costa County Vineyards – Peak will evolve through vineyards as specific varieties of grapes turn color.  The show will likely continue for another two to three weeks.