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#NapaStrong

Barrow Lane, Napa Napa Valley (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Blackened hills singe the edges of Napa’s vineyards, east of the Silverado Trail, though the vineyards themselves remain green and gold.

That’s the story of this past month’s wine country fires. Though devastating (41 dead, 220,000 acres and 2,800 homes destroyed), the fires have not broken Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino counties.

Their spirits are strong and ebullient, their wineries largely untouched, their towns as enticing, and their landscapes as beautiful as ever. In two words, “GO NOW!”

Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker at Chimney Rock (untouched by fire that licked at its property line) said, “Vineyards have so much water in them, that they’re almost like a fire break.” That quality protected the vines, though a few wineries, particularly in eastern Napa Valley received significant damage.

Most visitors to the Napa Valley would never notice it, however. Even the blackened hills (seen above) are not that different to the eye than the normally dark foliage of oaks and brush.

#NapaStrong (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

What is evident throughout the wine country are the number of signs thanking first responders for saving homes and neighborhoods. Heroic stands occurred that spared many neighborhoods, businesses and wineries. Click images to enlarge.

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Today, Canada geese flew low over Napa vineyards, calling to one another. Brightly colored hot air balloons floated slowly in the crisp morning air and people returned to the wine country’s great art galleries, restaurants and tasting rooms.

Acacia Rd., Far Niente (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Fall color has returned to the Napa Valley, as well. Car enthusiasts took pictures of their classic rides on narrow boulevards lined with peaking gingko biloba and vines were showing bright red, yellow and lime, though the vineyards remain mostly patchy. Peak color will continue to appear through Thanksgiving Day in the wine country.

Napa Valley – Near Peak (50-75%) – GO NOW!

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Calistoga, Napa Valley (11/4/17) Darrell Sano

Calistoga, Napa Valley (11/4/17) Darrell Sano

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Paradigm Winery, Acacia Rd., Oakville (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Hawthorne, Acacia Rd., Oakville, Napa Valley (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

Far Niente, Oakville Grade (11/5/17) John Poimiroo

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Close to the Heart in Sonoma County

Downtown Petaluma (file photo) Deborah Garber

Sonoma County vineyard (10/22/17) Karin Davalos

Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties have one of the latest and longest-lasting peaks in California with peak color appearing from mid October to Thanksgiving Day.

In Sonoma County, fall color can be found in the vineyards, in wine country cities like Petaluma where native and exotic trees line downtown streets and in state parks where lovely color is found in the woods.

Anson and Karin Davalos visited Sonoma County this past week to report that despite the devastation left behind by wildfires in some of the wine country, “much of the area and the vineyards are as beautiful as ever.”

Petaluma Historical Museum (file photo) Deborah Garber

Karin should know, as she’s a local girl who grew up there. So, we know how anxious she was to return and see the places closest to her heart.

Presently, there are a lot of as-yet-unturned green vines to be seen, but also certain varieties are peaking with deep red, orange, yellow and lime to be seen. Vineyards peak by individual grape variety, so while one vineyard may be green, another nearby may be brilliant burgundy or past peak.

More than anything else, what Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties need – following this past month’s fires – is for normalcy to return. That can only happen once travelers return to visiting normally.

For fall color spotters that means including Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties in your fall travel plans, and visiting now.

Liquidambar and vines, Sonoma County (10/22/17) Karin Davalos

So, I’m putting out the challenge to all color spotters – particularly those great photographers who’ve shown the best of the wine country in the past – let’s show everyone how beautiful these areas are and what great fall color can be found there now, through Thanksgiving Day.

Email current photographs of fall color in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to editor@CaliforniaFallColor.com and we’ll post them because, like Karin, the wine country is close to all of California’s hearts, right now.

Sonoma County – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

 

 

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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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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.

Clear
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High 70°/Low 36°
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Tuesday
Clear
High 68°/Low 36°
Partly Cloudy
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High 67°/Low 38°
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Clear
High 69°/Low 39°

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