On a recent trip to visit family in California, we decided to steer off the beaten path and visit some of the local wineries around Chico, California. What a great decision! If you're looking for the type of places where you can still meet the owners, winemakers and growers without spending a fortune than I highly recommend checking out Grey Fox Vineyard and New Clairvaux. These were our two favorites. New Clairvaux is an "Abbey community of Cistercian or "Trappist" monks that was founded in 1955 when the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky sent a group to California to begin a new monastery to relieve overcrowding at the motherhouse. New Clairvaux's land, history, and people make it an ideal site for 21st Century winemaking. Its Vina location is noted for its deep loam soils and mild climate, which enabled the site to blossom under the ownership of Peter Lassen during California's colonial days, and later as Leland Stanford's Great Vina Ranch, the world's largest vineyard, winery and distillery by 1890," says the Web site. While there, you should also walkover to check out the Sacred Stones project, the reconstruction of an 800 year old Chapter House from a Cistercian monastery in Ovila, Spain. Considered the most important room in a monastery, this historic structure is being rebuilt at New Clairvaux. And, it's gorgeous! At Grey Fox in Oroville, we were immediately met by one of the owners Jeanne. Jeanne walked with us into the tasting room which overlooks the hillside vineyard. After sampling some yummy Barbera's and Zinfandels, we enjoyed a picnic under the valley oak trees and continued enjoying the views. The soil around this part of California is perfect for Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Syrah and Viognier. If you're a cabernet lover, you may be disappointed.