Shhh: The winter is actually one of the best times to visit Wine Country. (Photo: John Storey/Special to the Chronicle)
Lots of people plan their visits to Wine Country during harvest season, late summer through the fall, when vineyards are lush and green and you might get to see some of the messy winemaking process in action. (Also, if you ever have a chance to taste a ripe wine grape off the vine, don’t pass it up.) But this time of year is a very underrated period for winery visits. I love seeing the bare, leafless vines and the beginnings of cover crop between them. I love the cool, gray weather. And I love how quiet and peaceful it feels in California wine regions during this offseason. That’s a flowery way of saying that there’s no bad time of year to visit Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Monterey or any of our state’s other wine destinations.