California is one of the first places that will likely come to your mind when talking about wines. This is because aside from its beaches, the Golden State also has the perfect climate that’s suited for growing grapes and producing wine. Hence, no matter where you look, it’s easy to find wineries when you’re in California.
But before anything else, why is California big on wines, anyway?
- 1 California Wine History
- 2 California’s Best Wineries
- 2.1 San Antonio Winery
- 2.2 Francis Ford Coppola Winery
- 2.3 Matthiasson Winery
- 2.4 Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery
- 2.5 Ram’s Gate Winery
- 2.6 Landmark Vineyards
- 2.7 Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery
- 2.8 Jordan Winery
- 2.9 Calmere Estate Winery
- 2.10 Burrell School Vineyard and Winery
- 2.11 Bonny Doon Vineyard
- 2.12 Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard
- 2.13 Ledson Winery and Historic Castle Vineyards
- 2.14 Lodi Wine and Visitor Center
- 2.15 Miramonte Winery
- 2.16 Tablas Creek Vineyard
- 2.17 Navarro Vineyards and Winery
California Wine History
California’s wine industry wouldn’t be like it is what it is today if it weren’t because of the Spaniards. Apparently, everything started with the Spanish missions, particularly in San Diego in 1769. From there, Franciscan missions were established throughout California and remained in operation. In 1840s, during the Gold Rush era, the demand for wine exploded because of the miners. And in 1900s, the thriving wine industry in California exported wines all over the world and even reached Australia and Asia.
But with so many wineries in California, it’s also easy to be overwhelmed wondering where to go next for your next sip of great wine. In California, Napa Valley is one of the popular regions where you can get the best wine and explore numerous wineries. If it’s still a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, though, we got your back. We narrowed done your options as we listed some of the best wineries in the Califonia, the home of some of the best wines in the world.
California’s Best Wineries
By now, you’re probably already familiar with Napa Valley because of the numerous movies and TV series that were filmed here, including the American comedy film Wine Country and the Filipino TV series On the Wings of Love, because of its picturesque landscape. Of course, Napa Valley is also famous for its wine. Thanks to its perfect climate, Napa Valley provides a good setting that allow grapes to ripen and develop deep flavor and sugar. But Napa Valley isn’t the only place in California for the best wines in the world. Apparently, there are numerous good wineries scattered around the state. And if you want to see and taste what the buzz is all about, here are some of the best wineries in California that you need to check out.
1San Antonio Winery
It’s hard to talk about the wineries in California without mentioning San Antonio Winery. Founded in 1917, this place has been operating since, making it the oldest winery in Downtown LA. It has been in the industry for years serving a wide selection of wines including elegant whites, bold reds, and sparkling wines. It also offers both sweet and semi-sweet selections. You can sample some for $15 per person in the wine tasting tours. San Antonio Winery also has an in-site restaurant where you can savor every sip along with the restaurant’s delicious Italian dishes ranging from freshly-made pastas, gourmet salads, grilled meats, and sandwiches.
Its unique décor and warm ambiance also make it worth visiting, giving you a wine tasting and dining experience unlike no other. And because of that, many often choose San Antonio Winery as venue for special events too.
2Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Aside from San Antonio Winery, it’s also hard to talk about wines without mentioning Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Apparently, this brand also made it big in the industry. As a matter of fact, it sells its wines all over the world. Plus, it has been voted Winery of the Year in numerous international wine competitions. From its distinctive bottle to the last drop of wine that it contains, everything is surely worth the price. However, the bottle of wine is just half the fun. The winery can also talk big of its beautiful tasting room where you can get to sample its fine wine at $30 (per person). In addition to that, it has a restaurant that will also fill you with good food. It also has a spot for events that will surely impress your guests. And what makes this all the more unique is that it has a big space even for kids. It even has a fabulous pool where you and the younger members of your family can have a splash. Unlike other wineries, this place can be enjoyed by people of all ages, especially during summer.
Matthiasson Winery also boasts of good wines. In fact, Food and Wine and The San Francisco Chronicle named it as the Bay Area’s winemaker of the year. The winery was also nominated for a James Beard Award in 2018 and 2019 because of its stellar refined wines and blends that have lower alcohol content, making them perfect for food pairings. While it has a variety of wines to offer, the winery became known for its high-quality white wines that you need to try out. The best part of it is that the winery offers tours every morning on its vineyards for $50.
4Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery
Like the San Antonio Winery and Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sebastiani is also one of the brands that started long ago. Founded by Samuele Sebastiani, who left Tuscany for California in 195, this winery in the hills of Sonoma is also one of the wine producers you shouldn’t miss when you’re in California. From Thursday to Sunday between 11 AM and 5 PM, you can sample their wines while seating in their beautiful courtyard. Its wines are also great to be paired with food. But Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery isn’t just about wine tastings. Its doors are also open for those who want to celebrate special occasions with them. Its setting is also ideal for weddings and other private occasions. So whether you just want a sip of wine or you want a big celebration, this place is something that you should add to your California itinerary too.
5Ram’s Gate Winery
Ram’s Gate Winery also joins the list of wineries where you can also hold private parties. Because of its elegant setting, you’ll surely be able to impress your guests. But the décor isn’t the only thing that will make an impression on your guests. Of course, its wines are also worth talking about. Unlike most of the wineries on this list, including San Antonio Winery, Ram’s Gate just opened in 2011. Despite being a bit new to the industry, this company has already become one of the popular wineries in California because of its high-quality wines. For as low as $50, you can sample its best-tasting wines and enjoy the view surrounding the site. Ram’s Gate also has wines perfect for food pairings and it offers a spot on site, where you can savor every sip and bite of their wines and dishes, with elegant interior design. And because of that, this place is also a perfect venue for private parties. From its décor to the last drop of wine, everyone will surely enjoy this place too.
Aside from having the great great granddaughter of American inventor John Deere as one of its founders, Landmark Vineyards is also famous for its high-quality white and red wines. Like the other wineries on this list, Landmark Vineyards also lets its visitors sample some of its delicious wines. But what makes it stand out among the rest, even more, is that it lets its visitors get a peek of the company’s winemaking process.
And the best part of it is that you can tour its vineyards while riding a horse-drawn carriage. With this, you will be treated with stunning views of the Mayacamas Mountains, the site’s welcoming courtyard, as well as its lush gardens. Also because of the vineyards’ gorgeous setting, it serves a nice place to tie the knot. With such beautiful setting and delicious wines, you’ll surely have a wedding that everyone will remember.
Weddings aren’t the only occasion that you can hold here. This place has a nice setting that’s also perfect for corporate dinners and other private events.
7Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery
Unlike San Antonio Winery, Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery’s history started later in 1997. But over the years, this apple farm facility-turned-winery has perfected its wines and even made a name that regional publications, such as Good Times Magazine and The Register-Pajaronian, recognized as the Corralito’s region’s best winery. And what makes this a cut above the rest is that it offers a spacious back patio space where you can bring picnic lunches and enjoy Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery’s wines that family members of all ages will love.
The site also offers wine club pick-up parties. Here, aside from delicious wines, you can also get to enjoy live music performances. It’s not just a place for when you want to go wine tasting but it also provides a nice set up for those looking to experience a more relaxing day with a glass of wine.
Jordan Winery, also known as Jordan Vineyard and Winery, is also one of the oldest wineries in California. In 1972, Tom and Sally Jordan founded the winery. But it was until 1976 when the winery’s first vintage was harvested. From there, the demand for Jordan Winery’s wines grew bigger. But what makes it different from others is that it only produces two wines: Alexander Cabarnet Sauvignon and Russian River Valley Chardonnay. And even with such few options, a lot of people still frequent Jordan Winery’s place for a sip of its wines – that’s probably how delicious its wines are.
And don’t worry if you’re wondering what’s the buzz all about as you can also get to taste it. Just in 2013, the Jordan Estate opened its doors to the public for tours and wine tasting experience. Jordan Winery also offers food pairings.
9Calmere Estate Winery
Calmere Estate Winery is also hard to miss when you’re in California. This place is, needless to say, one of the producers of California’s best wines too even if it just started in the industry in 2016. Here, you can sample all of its excellent wines in flights with cheeseboard pairings. But what makes it all the more worth visiting is the unparalleled view that you can get to see from here. Apparently, the winery, which is named for the French words “calm” and “sea,” overlooks the gorgeous Bay Area landscape and cultivates plantings of Burgundian grape varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s always a feast both for your eyes and taste buds when you’re here.
10Burrell School Vineyard and Winery
For starters, Burrell School Vineyard and Winery isn’t a university. But this winery plays on this theme a lot, which makes it a bit more unique than others. Here, you can also sample its delicious wines. And the best part of it is that Burrell School Vineyard and Winery offers a bunch of perks for the members of its exclusive club, including complimentary tastings, as well as ongoing discounts on purchases. Aside from that, members can also enjoy quarterly shipments of Burrell School’s bottle of wines and member-exclusive events.
11Bonny Doon Vineyard
Bonny Doon is also one of California’s well-known wineries. Since it was founded in 1983, a lot of people have been patronizing the brand, thanks to its witty-named delicious wines. In fact, it became so big that it produces more than 450,000 cases of wine every year. However, Bonny Doon announced the permanent closure of its beautiful tasting room just last year. But the good news is that the winery didn’t stop its wine production. You can still get to have a taste of its wines when you shop from its physical store or online. For as low as $45, you can already enjoy some of Bonny Doon’s bottles of wine. Serve it in your own party or just enjoy it alone, its wines won’t let you down.
12Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard
Like most wineries on this list, Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard gives people opportunities to taste its delicious wines through tastings, which are offered daily from 10 AM to 4:45 PM. But what makes this winery a stand out are its tasting rooms. Here, you can savor every sip of your wine in an exquisite tasting room with shelves packed with Fess Parker’s own bottle of wines lining its walls with leather couches around a huge stone hearth. Or, you can enjoy your glass of wine in an open sunny veranda alongside terraced raised garden beds with a picture-perfect view of the countryside. On top of that, you can also get to see up close how fess Parker makes its wines. You’ll not just get to find the perfect wine for you but you will also learn more about winemaking once you visit this place.
13Ledson Winery and Historic Castle Vineyards
Ledson Winery and Historic Castle Vineyards also offers a different experience to its visitors. First off, just when you arrive at the site, a beautiful garden and well-designed mansion will greet you. From here, you will already be filled with picturesque views of the surrounding (we highly suggest that you take as many pictures as you want as this place is very Instagram worthy). Inside, they offer different wine tasting experiences. And by that, we mean you can enjoy a different kind of wine and food pairing. Unlike other wineries that only offer cheese and common dishes to be paired with wines, Ledson Winery lets you choose from two specially curated tasting menus. Here, you can even enjoy the full experience of Japanese food served in four to six courses and paired with Ledson’s delicious wines.
14Lodi Wine and Visitor Center
Aside from Napa Valley, California’s Lodi region can also talk big about its wines. In fact, this region was voted wine region of the year in 2015. Like Napa Valley, Lodi region also provides a nice climate for varietals of grapes to grow. That said, it is also one of the places in California that you need to check out, particularly the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center. Aside from delicious wines, you also need to look forward to the number of events held here throughout the year. There’s always something to look forward to in this place. And because of that, we highly suggest that you check out their website so you won’t miss any event.
Miramonte Winery is one of the best places in California where you can get a taste of Spain, Southern France, and Portugal. This is because this winery has been producing wines focusing on varietals that were originally sourced from these countries. Aside from tastings, this winery also offers tours where you can also get a glimpse of how they expertly craft every bottle of wine that they have – from growing the grapes, fermentation, and all the way to sipping a glass.
16Tablas Creek Vineyard
Tablas Creek Vineyard is also a must-visit winery. Founded in 1990, this winery became well known for its high-quality Rhone-style blends, including its signature GSM Southern Rhone style. But this place is not just for those who want a sip of good wine. This place is also for those looking for an Instagram worthy winery as it is set against the backdrop of the gorgeous Santa Lucia Mountains. And if you want to see and taste more of what this winery has to offer, don’t worry, there’s no need to rush as its doors are open daily. Tablas Creek Vineyard also offers tours twice daily. In addition to that, the winery holds special events throughout the year, including wine tasting and pairing events, wine festivals, and pig roasts. Thus, don’t forget to keep an eye on the winery’s calendar so you won’t miss anything.
Unlike the other wineries we mentioned, Navarro Vineyards and Winery is merely a small company. hence, one might not easily recognize its name or find it on the shelves of major wine boutiques. But don’t let it fool you. While it is just a small company, its wine is no less than delicious for its size. Aside from wine tastings, you can also tour Navarro Vineyards and Winery’s facilities. After that, you can buy some cheese and meat from the winery’s deli. The winery also has grounds open for its visitors where they can enjoy their packed lunch with Navarro’s wines. It’s one of the most underrated wineries in California and we highly suggest that you add this to your itinerary too.
already has some of the best wineries in the world. California has a lot of things to offer. Regardless of what kind of adventure you’re looking for and no matter what your age is, The Golden State sure has something for everyone. And if you’re a wine lover or if you’re looking for the perfect wine for your taste buds, there’s no need to book a trip to Italy, Spain, France, or other famous countries to get that sip of delicious wine. Just visit California and you can already get to taste some of the best wines in the world.