If you're serious about wine drinking, you know that California is the heart of wine-making country, and home to some of the best quality grapes in the world. We've put together a list of some of the best wineries in California, including the best winemakers, and the best wineries to visit and explore.
If you're interested in a trip that allows you to explore beautiful vineyards, taste a wonderful variety of wines, and the chance to educate yourself on the drink you love, California is the perfect place to visit. Check out this list of California's best wineries to visit for an experience that goes beyond the wine.
Acorn Winery is a small, family-owned winery that punches above its weight in the wine world. Acorn began as a vineyard that sold grapes to other wineries, but the owners began crafting wines of their own in 1996. Since then, Acorn has produced seven wines, many of which are praised around the world.
You can check out one of Acorn's renowned reds, visit the vineyard for a tour of a small winery, buy grapes of your own, or learn all about their sustainable practices.
Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards
Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyard is the latest project for Thekla and Richard Sanford, a wine power couple who have worked in many successful wine ventures together. The two purchased Alma Rosa to access the perfect growing area for grapes to create pinot noir, and they have been making great wine there for 30 years.
Caymus Vineyards offers a wonderful touring and tasting experience that takes place almost entirely outside. For this reason, Caymus is the perfect winery to visit on a beautiful summer day.
Producing only three wines (two cabernet sauvignons and one zinfandel), this tiny winery has made a name for itself based on these unique offerings alone.
The Chappellet Winery in St. Helena is the perfect place to visit for anyone interested in unique wines. This family-owned winery was the first to plant their vineyards exclusively on high-elevation vineyards, and the result has been award-winning wine that has been consistently praised since 1967.
You can visit the Chappellet Winery for tastings and tours by appointment, and see a second generation of winemakers at their craft.
Copain Wines are produced in the Russian River Valley. The wine offerings from Copain are delicious, and the producers have been praised throughout the world as solid, reliable winemakers.
But, the location itself is part of what makes Copain so unique. The winery often hosts and caters to private events. If you and your beloved are wine enthusiasts, you might even consider hosting a wedding on this beautiful property.
Cathy Corison is the mastermind behind the Corison Winery. She turned her love of science and wine into a career spent learning about and crafting wines. With grapes sourced from throughout Napa Valley, Cathy, along with her family, run this winery and produce vintages that have been praised for their bold flavor.
Try a Corison wine with your next dinner pairing, or plan a trip to explore the vineyards and shop!
Domaine Carneros is a French-style winery located in Napa Valley. They have crafted a number of different kinds of wines, but are most known for their quality sparkling wine varieties.
Visiting the Domaine Carneros winery is truly an experience worth having, with daily tastings, specialty tastings, tours, and private events available at this huge and beautiful vineyard.
Duckhorn Vineyards is one of the hidden gems of Napa Valley. Specializing in a variety of reds, Duckhorn has gained notoriety in the past 10 years for reliable and bold red wines.
Fans of Duckhorn wines have visited the estate for special shopping and tastings, and have not been disappointed. The beautiful estate house is the centre of a tour that gives detail on the process of making their specialty wines.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
The Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery are a passion project of couple Don and Rhonda Carano. The two purchased the vineyard with a dream of producing quality and affordable wines, and their vintages have made a name for themselves.
Along the wine available through Ferrari-Carano name is their beautiful property, perfect for a tour of the winery and vineyard.
Hall Wines are a group dedicated to crafting premium quality wines with minimal environmental impact. A small winery that makes a big splash, Hall Wines are worth checking out because of their ethical and environmental practices.
Hall aims to bring this sustainability beyond their own production, and offers tours, advice and collaboration with other wine enthusiasts. Hall is a great wine for anyone, but they are a great winery to support if you feel strongly about being green.
Heitz Cellars have been in operation since 1961, and have been making headlines since they began. Heitz is known for their crisp and popular sauvignon blanc varietals.
Today, their unopened vintage bottles are highly sought after. Heitz sells from their property, and offers tours and tastings of all of their wines.
Littorai Wines is a small family-owned winery that has only been in operation since 1993. In this time, they have produced wines that have made Littorai a name known throughout the United States, and by wine lovers across the world.
Littorai specializes in chardonnay and pinot noir. If these are among your favorite wines to sample, you should definitely try some of the offerings from this family winery.
The Mayacamas Winery has been producing top tier wines since 1889, and has been a renowned name for many wine-drinkers since the 1950s. Their classic merlot and chardonnay offerings are definitely worthwhile, and visiting the winery and vineyards is absolutely worth the visit. The beautiful vineyards and winery house a wine-making process that preserves many classic techniques, with intimate tours showcasing the process.
Sandhi Wines is a small and unique winery which combines various varietals and preparation methods from many vineyards to create wines with powerful and unique flavors.
Sandhi offers highly praised reds and whites, and have a very specific process for creating and storing each bottle. It is absolutely worth trying one of the unique Sandhi offerings (particularly their 2014 pinot noir) or visiting one of the nine vineyards where grapes are sourced.
If you are a fan of sparkling wines, it is time to get to know Schramsberg Vineyards. This family-owned vineyard has been perfecting the art of creating sparkling wine since 1965, and have become known all over the world for their world-class creations.
While many wine connoisseurs don't pay much attention to sparkling wines, the uniquely flavorful batches by Schramsberg make them absolutely worth tasting.
The Shafer family has been crafting wines on the same property since the 1880s, and have produced beloved and award winning red and white wines. Shafer Wines is a great winery to support - family-owned, environmentally conscious, and charitable, this ethical winery has even started a wildlife preserve in the past few years.
A book has been published exploring the Shafer Vineyards story! If you're thinking of trying Shafer wines or visiting the winery, you can read the book, A Vineyard in Napa, by Doug Shafer.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
The Robert Sinskey Vineyards are a small wine producer located in Napa Valley. They produce a remarkable variety of wines each year, and are known for creating staple wines that are perfect for meal-pairings.
An interesting thing about the Robert Sinskey Vineyards team is that they insist that reviews of their wine come about organically. They refuse to send out wine samples, and instead prefer to allow their wine to speak for itself. This interesting tidbit assures you that their wine is famous for good reason!
Sterling Vineyards provide one of the most unique touring experiences of any winery in California. The property has been outfitted with an aerial tram that carries visitors over the whole property for the perfect view. There are also sections that have been set up as a museum, and all visitors are greeted for their tour with a glass of wine. If you're not able to visit, at least you can try some of their varieties..
Yorkville Cellars and Vineyards are uniquely located over 1000 feet above sea-level. This is a very high altitude for grape-growing, and contributes to the unique flavors produced.
If you're a malbec enthusiast, chances are you've encountered Yorkville Cellars before, through a tasting or recommendation. This winery is worth visiting for anyone obsessed with malbec, or interested in unique grape growing setups.