A long, wide swath of flat fertile land, California’s Central Valley can grow just about any agricultural product, from apricots and almonds to rice and walnuts. The Central Valley is also the largest wine-grape growing region in the state.
Hot and dry, it is largely comprised of some 150,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley south of Lodi, with remote Madera County to the east near Yosemite National Park and its 38,000-some acres also counted in. The juggernaut of California’s table wine business, the Central Valley is a huge supplier of grapes to wineries throughout the state, as well as home to more unusual dessert and Port-style wines.
Places to know include Bakersfield, Fresno, Manteca, Merced, Stockton and of course Modesto, the base of E. & J. Gallo Winery, the biggest wine company in the world; and Bronco Wine Company in nearby Ceres, the maker of Two Buck Chuck. —Virginie Boone