Welcome to Casual Wining. We are here to talk about wine tasting in fun, casual and affordable environments. Mostly (but not always) smaller, family wineries, where the owners and wine makers are available and approachable. The main focus will be on the Sierra Foothills region of California, where we are based. We will share thoughts on the wineries, wines and whatever else comes to mind. We’ll also talk about other places we come across in our travels. We encourage you to share your thoughts and comments on places you’ve been, and we will post whatever we can here on the website. In the meantime, I thought I’d share my thoughts about why I started this site.

Wine culture used to intimidate me

I used to be scared to go wine tasting. I thought it was a pretentious hobby for the rich. I was afraid because it had its own secret language about its age, legs and bouquet. I was nervous that I would make a fool of myself. But I really, really like wine in the color of red! That begged the big question….

Can I go wine tasting if all I know is what color wine I like?

That was really my dilemma – not knowing the language, or feeling out of place among the wine connoisseurs. And lets face it – there are an awful lot of wineries that cater to high end, knowledgeable wine drinkers. That describes many of the wineries in Napa, where tasting prices recently hit a record high of $81 and Sonoma, where prices hit $38. Napa and Sonoma clearly cater to a knowledgeable, well-off clientele. We have those wineries here in the western Sierra foothills, too, but that really doesn’t describe the majority. Most of the wineries here cater to people like me, that just like wine!

That’s right! Here in the Sierra foothills you really don’t have to know much at all about wine, except that you like it and want to try some. Many of our wineries are family wineries, and you are likely to be served by the owners, the winemaker (often the owner is the winemaker) or a family member. You can learn so much from visiting and talking to your hosts! Like how the weather and water availability impacts the taste; how they know when to harvest; what are the forces that influence their wines and their business; and the types of wines they love making (and why). They can help you figure out how to determine what types of wine you like and why! But most importantly, the wines they make are good!

The Sierra foothills region produces award winning wine

The foothills region only grows a small fraction of the wine produced in California, and it wins more than its fair share of industry awards. It also produces very highly rated wines if you look them up on Wine Spectator or other rating sites. But if you are someone that just likes wine, these ratings and awards don’t matter – though hopefully they will convince you that the region is worthy of the easy drive from the Bay Area. What does matter is what you like. A wine judge may love a wine and give it a very high score, while you really don’t like it at all! That’s what really makes visiting the Sierra foothills region worth the trip – it’s such an opportunity to learn to identify which wines you’ll like, and which you should avoid. 


There are lots of fun, casual and affordable spots to go wine tasting in the Sierra Foothills wine regions, over 250 by my last count! Don’t be intimidated by wine culture – you don’t need to know a lot about wine to taste here, just that you like it!