The Great Debate: Seasonal Beauty in Wine Country

It’s the burning question that divides Wine Country locals, visitors, and artists: During which season of the year is Wine Country most beautiful?

The deliberations, debates and fisticuffs that have resulted from this question are innumerable. And this is so for the simple reason that each season—Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter—brings with it a special and truly unique palate of colors and array of textures.

I bring this burning question up today as we are now, in the Northern Hemisphere and in Northern California specifically, experiencing what has long been the season that a good many folks involved in the debate believe is unquestionably the most beautiful season of the year in Wine Country: Fall (or, Autumn to the more literary minded among us).

The Case for Fall
It really is the diversity of colors that defines this season. Rows of vines sporting their red, orange, yellow and brown vines are the very heart of the Fall palate and no other season of the year duplicates it. It is also the quick change of colors that fascinate the eye as the vines can transform themselves from one hue to the next over the course of a few days.

The Case for Winter
Personally, I fall into the “Winter-Is-the-most-beautiful-season-of-the-year” camp. Like me, many others see the simplicity and honesty of naked vines, their living architecture exposed through leaflessness, a stunning sight that provides a unique insight that none of the other three seasons can deliver. There is stark nature to the winter vineyard vista. The brown hues of trunks, cordons and canes are without rival in winter.

The Case for Spring
Spring in the vineyards provides the most varied set of vistas as the vines grow and change relatively quickly. The brown hue of the vines architecture remains dominant, but in a clipped fashion. There is a orderliness to a vineyard that has been pruned back, which occurs by early Spring. Once buds start to break you are driven to notice the splash of green that quickly overtakes a vineyard. It is vista that defines “promise”.

The Case for Summer
Those with an affinity for the lush and the extravagant will vote for Summer. It’s the flashy sea of green that completely obliterates any hint of the brown trunk and cordons that dominates the eye. From above the Summer vineyard is garish, bright, richly colored.

California residents, at lest those in the western part of the state, are less exposed to the impact of seasonal change. We don’t shovel snow in the winter. We don’t feel the bracing winds of fall. Our spring doesn’t bring with it a thaw. And our summer often looks similar to our spring and fall.

But in Wine Country, we are blessed for being alerted to the change in the seasons by virtue of the reaction of the vines. They tell us as much as anything else where we are in the calendar. Many folks head to this neck of the woods now, during the Fall, specifically for this reason; specifically to witness the dramatic turning of colors in the vineyard in a similar that many flock to New England.

And why wouldn’t they?

5 Responses

  1. Doug Wilder - October 16, 2012

    Fisticuffs? Really? As long as I have lived here, I haven’t heard much debate as to which season is best. The wine country presents something new and marvelous all of the time. For those of us who live in the middle of it, it is hard not to get used to it (but still keep a camera nearby).

  2. Joe Becerra - October 16, 2012

    I outlined this same topic several years ago on Wine Country Getaways. “When is the best time to travel to the wine country?” You can also watch an inspiring slide video show of the the seasons in wine country on the same page. Take a look: Let me know what you think!

  3. Tom Wark - October 16, 2012


    I concur with our advice that the winter months (DEC and JAN) are good times to come to wine country given the relatively fewer tourists. Great site.

  4. Matt - October 16, 2012

    I can never travel through wine country in the fall. Two reasons: I am in the industry and crush is happening, and I see too much virus in the fall. I like to be blissfully ignorant. But, I am a special (head) case. I know that the colors are beautiful to everybody else.

  5. Brian - October 16, 2012

    I have a hard time deciding which season I enjoy the most in Wine Country also. The fall colors are beautiful and the weather that time of year is often great. In my opinion, the colors of late winter/early spring are probably just as good though. I love the green and yellow of the mustard in between the rows of brown, dormant vines.

Leave a Reply