When driving between northern or central California and Las Vegas, chances are you’ll pick up Highway 58 in Bakersfield and take it to where it meets Interstate 15–the main drag into Vegas–in the desert town of Barstow.
About a third of the way to Barstow, you’ll go through the mountain community of Tehachapi. The tendency, unless one is low on gas, is to just keep on driving.
But should you decide to meander, you’ll encounter some of the activities that one normally associates with the Napa Valley.
- Balloon rides.
- And, yes, wine tasting.
Souza Family Vineyards, owned by Bob and Patty Souza, was founded in 2003, and its Zinfandel already has caught the eye of wine judges.
The Souzas aren’t the only people growing winegrapes in the area, where the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California’s Central Valley and the Mojave Desert converge. There’s even a Tehachapi Mountain Valleys Wine Growers Association in place.
Some locals are asking whether Tehachapi could become the next Napa Valley.
Frankly, the answer to that question is no. But it definitely could become a small wine region that’s worth seeking out–much like Temecula or Cucamonga.