Neighbouring some of California’s most prestigious wine regions, such as Napa County to the west and Lake County to the northwest, Yolo’s own viticultural pursuits form a small but integral part of the county’s broader agricultural practice. Tomatoes - the kind that are processed and tinned - are perhaps the most important crop here, but grapes for the purpose of winemaking are gradually growing in reputation.
There are four sub-AVAs within Yolo County whose distinct growing conditions offer up their own benefits and opportunities. The best known of these are Capay Valley AVA and Dunnigan Hills AVA, both of which on account of their elevation, experience significant diurnal temperature variation affording their grapes a longer ripening period. Clarksburg AVA and Merritt Island AVA are the other recognised sub-appellations and their climates are heavily influenced by the Sacramento river.
Yolo’s microclimates, soils and subsequently its wines are incredibly diverse. Its wineries are almost exclusively of the family-run, boutique style and as such, there is a friendly laid back vibe to the industry. An increasing number of cellars are opening tasting rooms to entice tourists and it feels only a matter of time before Yolo etches its name more clearly on the Californian wine map.
Though the acronym YOLO has since become synonymous with the phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ encapsulating the idea of living life to the full, the county is thought to have taken its name from a word of Native American origin. Having said that and given that you do only get one shot, its very much worth allocating a few days to exploring the Yolo County wine scene where you’ll find well-balanced, flavoursome varietals and blends that offer excellent value.