Grape growing and making wine is governed by the seasons, whereas visiting the regions is a year round activity. Each new season brings new discoveries.
But when to visit!
California's vintage is six months behind Australia's.
The most popular time is between September and October, during vintage, when the vineyards and wineries are "alive" with the frenetic pace of making wine.
The pace slows in November (mid autumn) as the new vintage rests in tanks and barrels. It's generally a little quieter for tourist traffic. Being autumn it is pleasantly cooler and the vines displaying their colours of orange, gold and crimson.
From late November through to February (winter) the vineyards are in their dormant period and will have been pruned. It's the rainy season and the cooler temperatures arrive. At many winery cellar doors one can find a crackling fire and a crock pot of soup with some crusty bread to welcome visitors. It is the holiday season in the US and a great time to visit with many festively decorated tasting rooms.
In March (spring) it's time for bud burst in the vineyards heralding the start of a new vintage. Many vineyards have mustard seed crops in their rows and a quite spectacular yellow blanket can be seen. By late April to early May many vines will be in full foliage as the weather warms up towards summer.
Between June and August the vines pump their energy into the ripening of the clusters of grapes, while winemakers get ready for another vintage.