I could blame it on the books that arrived in the mail this morning.
Or I could blame it on the wine, a 2012 Coppola Zinfandel that I unexpectedly found tucked away in the pantry behind my collection of New Zealand Pinot Noirs.
Or, maybe, I could blame it on Google for leading me to all these YouTube videos featuring California Wine Country.
But no matter what the cause, on this cold, wet winter’s day, I ended up in full California dreaming mode, taking a virtual road trip around the hundreds of vineyards and wineries to be found throughout the state.
A quick flick through the California section of Janice Robinson & Linda Murphy’s American Wine highlighted the fact that while Napa Valley might be most well known of all of the Californian wine regions (officially known as American Viticultural Areas – AVAs) there are hundreds of lesser-known wine regions to explore.
But before heading to those lesser-known regions, I wandered through the world of the rich and the famous with Nick Wise’s Celebrity Vineyards. While the book is about celebrity vineyards around the world, most of the celebrity winemakers, such as Francis Coppola, Raymond Burr, and Fess Parker, were California based.
Away from the glitz, Jon Bonne’s The New California Wine provides an up-to-date on many of the less populated and much less fancy California AVAs. Bonne showcases dozens of innovative and enthusiastic winemakers who are willing to go beyond the expected and create stunning wines in areas where no one believed that grapes could or should grow.
Then it was on to YouTube to join Oz and James on their Big Wine Adventure through California. A BBC television program featuring wine expert Oz Clarke and motoring journalist James May from Top Gear, this road trip had us wandering through Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Los Carneros, and Paso Robles.
Snacking on cheese and crackers and sipping on the Coppola Zinfandel while watching Oz and James navigate their motorhome through California wine country was a great way to bring some sunshine into this grey winter’s day.
Now all I have to do is find a way to turn this virtual road trip to a real one.