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Kissed by Fog and Sun

Sycamore, Napa Valley (10/21/18) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (10/21/18) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (10/21/18) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (10/21/18) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (10/21/18) Darrell Sano

Anderson Valley (10/22/18) Darrell Sano

Some believe that what makes California wines so good is that they are so frequently kissed by fog and sun.

The cool Pacific and hot inland California combine to create a fog bank that hugs the coast, creeping into some valleys and never making it into others, resulting in multitudinous microclimates which explain why the same grape variety can make such different tasting wines a few miles apart.

Darrell Sano saw this on a Sunday morning road trip from Oakland to wine country.

He began in the Napa Valley (20’), gliding along the Silverado Trail. “It was crisp and cool at 45 degrees, but not clear, as the valley was shrouded in fog. The fog provided visual drama with diffused light to focus on outlines and shapes, and even so, the color was evident.”

Side roads perpendicular to Silverado Trail and CA-29, allowed him “to avoid any traffic and enjoy the peaceful morning breaking in complete silence.”

Fall color is just beginning in wine country, but there are patches of vines displaying brilliant red and yellows, but they are generally a minority. He spoke with vineyard workers who said “it’s just beginning now.”

Driving out of the microclimate that is the lower Napa Valley, near Calistoga Darrell emerged into the sun, but as he continued north, the fog returned.

From Napa, he continued on route 128 through Sonoma County’s Anderson Valley. Very little fall color has yet emerged there. Its rolling hills, scribed with vines, were muted “green, red, and yellow from the morning fog which softened contrast and revealed the structure of the terrain. Tree-lined driveways were particularly beautiful, along a boulevard of sycamore to their vanishing point. I started to wish that the sun wouldn’t burn off the fog, it was beautiful and so serene.”

In contrast to Darrell’s journey, a Saturday road trip took me to Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley (1,083’+) where fog rarely kisses its vines, though the sun gives it a big smooch. It is the area’s elevation, not fog, that cools the vines. So, unlike coastal vineyards Pinot Noir doesn’t grow well in the Sierra Foothills, though Zinfandel flourishes.

Similar to the Napa and Anderson Valleys, fall color in the Shenandoah Valley is Patchy. Some vineyards are Past Peak, though most are Just Starting to Patchy. 

Fuller Park, Napa (10/21/18) Justice Faustina

 

  • Napa Valley (Napa County) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Anderson Valley (Sonoma County) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Shenandoah Valley (Sierra Foothills) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Pleasant Valley (Sierra Foothills) – Patchy (10-50%)

Zinfandel, Wilderotter Vineyard, Plymouth (10/21/18) John Poimiroo

Fall Color in the Fog

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Fall color intensifies in flat, overcast light, created by a foggy or rainy sky.

Oakland color spotter Darrell Sano was up in the Napa Valley yesterday, as rain swept across Northern California.

He returned with these bright images of fresh green grass and fully turned grape leaves, scenes similar to what Tracy Zhou captured during the previous week’s storm.

Darrell found the “intense, lush green that now blankets the vineyard floor” to be “striking” and contrasting “with what’s left of the reds and yellows on the vines.”

High winds lashed parts of the north state, though wind only strips what was ready to fall.

Leaves in the process of ascission often remain hanging.

Clouds and fog that “hung low among the trees… never did provide definition beyond a gray “softbox” of a sky. Nevertheless, the scenery was beautiful, subdued, and introspective.”

Darrell found beauty by searching “the many dead-end lanes that are perpendicular to the highly trafficked route 29 and Silverado Trail.”

Napa Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Napa Valley: A Blend of Spring and Fall

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Peak continues in the vineyards, reports color spotter Tracy Zhou, with a blend of spring and fall.

Recent rains have encouraged grasses to sprout between the vines, creating a scene that is unusual… the combination of spring green and fall foliage.

Napa Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

[forecast location=”St. Helena, CA” numdays=”4″ showdata=”daynames,icon,date,conditions,highlow” layout=”simple”]

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!

[wunderground location=”Napa, CA” numdays=”4″ showdata=”daynames,icon,date,conditions,highlow” layout=”simple”]

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.

[wunderground location=”Napa, CA” numdays=”4″ showdata=”daynames,icon,date,conditions,highlow” layout=”simple”]

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.

Orange Friday

Sutter St., Folsom (11/25/15) John Poimiroo

Sutter St., Folsom (11/25/15) John Poimiroo

While shoppers are lined up at big box stores looking for deals on Black Friday, color spotters are out finding fall color on this Orange Friday.

I found it along historic Folsom’s Sutter Street where ginkgo biloba are painted yellow, orange and green.

Santhakumar VA found it at Far Niente Winery in Oakville where ginkgos are heavy with gold and orange leaves and vines are ruby, orange and gold.

Santha had visited the Napa Valley last week. He reports that while leaves are falling, there are so many on the vines and trees, that the show still goes on.

Similarly, Jennifer Mellone sends photos taken of the Bennett Valley and Dry Creek wine regions of Sonoma County where vines are boldly colored and birds are feasting in the vineyards.

Color spotter Anirudh Natikar shares these images of the landscaped color to be seen along Paseo Santa Cruz, near Valley Avenue in Pleasanton, where hot orange, deep red, and fluorescent yellow mix with green.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – All elevations below 1,000′

Dry Creek Region, Sonoma County (11/27/15) Jennifer Malone

Dry Creek region, Sonoma County (11/27/15) Jennifer Mellone

Bennett Valley region, Sonoma County (11/27/15) Jennifer Malone

Bennett Valley region, Sonoma County (11/28/15) Jennifer Mellone

Bennett Valley region, Sonoma County (11/27/15) Jennifer Malone

Bennett Valley region, Sonoma County (11/28/15) Jennifer Mellone

Far Niente Winery, Oakville (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Far Niente Winery, Oakville (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Far Niente Winery, Oakville (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Far Niente Winery, Oakville (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Napa Valley (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Napa Valley (11/26/15) Santhakumar V A

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natikar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natekar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natikar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natekar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natikar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natekar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natikar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natekar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natikar

Pleasanton (11/25/15) Anirudh Natekar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Finally, It’s Fall

Google

Google

We’re feeling lucky today.  Even though fall color has been visible in locations throughout California since August, Google’s search masthead today makes it official.  Finally, it’s fall. In the past week, I traveled to attend a travel writer’s conference in Iceland.  Though that Nordic country has much to its credit, Iceland’s fall color doesn’t hold a candle (or more appropriately, a lava flow) to California’s. Here are some of the great photos that have appeared on our Facebook site, since I took off towards the artic circle.

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Santa Bernardino Mountains (9/6/14) Alena Nichols

Alena Nichols posts these shots taken in the San Bernardino Mountains

Rock Creek (9/6/14) Steve Wolfe

Rock Creek (9/6/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes Rd (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Virginia Lakes Rd (9/12/14) Steve Wolfe

Bishop Creek (9/14/14) Steve Wolfe

Bishop Creek (9/14/14) Steve Wolfe

Dunderberg Meadow (9/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Dunderberg Meadow (9/21/14) Steve Wolfe

Steve Wolfe sends these shots from the Eastern Sierra.

Rock Creek (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Rock Creek (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (9/20/14) Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor visited the Napa Valley and Eastern Sierra for these great images.

Sabrina Lake (9/21/14) Kimberly Kofala

Sabrina Lake (9/21/14) Kimberly Kofala

Monitor Pass (9/1/14) Kimberly Kofala

Monitor Pass (9/1/14) Kimberly Kofala

Hope Valley (9/20/14) Kimberly Kofala

Hope Valley (9/20/14) Kimberly Kofala

North Lake (9/22/14) Kimberly Kofala

North Lake (9/22/14) Kimberly Kofala

Kimberly Kofala always has great shots, and these did not disappoint.

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Mosquito Flat Trail (9/17/14) Candace Gregory

Candace Gregory sent these warm aspen leaves from the Mosquito Flat Trail near Rock Creek Lake.

Hwy 89, north of Truckee (9/21/14) Laura Thompson

Hwy 89, north of Truckee (9/21/14) Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson reports the color is beginning to develop on Hwy 89 north of Truckee.

Indian Corn (9/21/14) Katrina Lounsbury

Indian Corn (9/21/14) Katrina Lounsbury

And closing this gallery of recent shots is Katrina Lounsbury’s kernel of fall color.