The Best Wine Tasting Experiences in California
Collected by Julia Cosgrove , AFAR Staff
7862 Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92657, USA
It’s not an overstatement to say chef Florent Marneau has spent more than half his life perfecting his coq au vin. Enrolled in cooking school in his native France at age 13, and classically trained for years, he then brought his talents to...
5230, 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, USA
There’s something about a place being “secret” that makes it exponentially more exciting. Counter Reformation, the European-style wine bar hidden from sight inside the Parker hotel, lives up to that notion. Open from Thursday to...
8700 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA
With A.O.C., which opened in 2002, chef Suzanne Goin and sommelier Caroline Styne have proven their uncanny ability to create not only an essential L.A. restaurant, but also one with true staying power. Although the Mediterranean-meets-Big...
315 N Montgomery St, Ojai, CA 93023, USA
This playful picnic and wine shop is quintessentially Ojai. Set in an old Spanish house, Tipple & Ramble sells indoor/outdoor decor, vintage and new barware, retro games, coolers, and small-batch specialty food items. Stock up on artisanal s’mores...
2670 Ontiveros Rd, Los Olivos, CA 93441, USA
Successful first acts often lead to equally successful second acts. After years as leaders and pioneers in the electronic music business, Tom and Judy Beckmen decided to turn their attention to winemaking. Today, with their son, Steve, they’re...
406 E Hwy 246, Buellton, CA 93427, USA
You can’t leave the Central California Coast without filling up on Santa Maria barbecue. This regional style of barbecue dates back to the 19th century, when ranchers held Spanish-style cookouts, grilling simply seasoned top-block sirloin and...
8940 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
In a valley only five miles from the Pacific Ocean, Folktale Winery lives up to its name: The Old World French-style château appears like a castle from childhood fables amid the vineyards and oak trees. On arrival, visitors are greeted with a...
595 Alabama St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
In 2002, pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and her husband, bread baker Chad Robertson, opened Tartine Bakery in San Francisco’s Mission District. Ever since, crowds of locals and tourists have lined up outside the artisanal bakery for country...
528 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
With the rise of the craft cocktail, sometimes it can feel as if the bubbles have been left behind, which is what makes the Riddler such an effervescent addition to the San Francisco scene. It’s a wine bar with a laser focus, offering more...
4130 Howard Ln, Napa, CA 94558, USA
With midcentury modern architecture and vinyl on the turntable, Ashes & Diamonds is not your typical Napa winery. Yet for Kashy Khaledi, the son of Darioush Khaledi (the man behind Darioush Winery), the new digs make perfect sense. The younger...
6770 McKinley St, Sebastopol, CA 95472, USA
Sebastopol’s answer to the Napa’s Oxbow Market is The Barlow, a hip and upscale outdoor mall featuring a variety of epicurean hot spots, shops, tasting rooms, and galleries. Once an apple-processing facility, the 18 industrial...
875 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558, USA
Wine, as they say, belongs at the table. Yet most tasting rooms offer only the wine. For a richer experience, seek out wineries that offer food pairings or, better yet, an entire meal. At Robert Sinskey winery, cookbook author and Chef Maria Helm...
28700 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
Pairings are everything at Ram’s Gate, one of the first wineries on the drive to wine country from San Francisco. First is the combination of sights: the wonders of architect Howard Backen’s open-concept tasting room in a refurbished...
2100 Denmark St, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
This small-production and boutique winery near downtown Sonoma has achieved cult status in recent years for the exclusivity of the experiences that owners (and brothers) Andrew and Adam Mariani have put together. Standard tastings run about 90...
10701 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
The perspective from Gary Farrell Winery, on the outskirts of Healdsburg, is distinctive. Perched high on a ridge above Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, you get a sense of the fog that makes this growing region so perfect—the...
1460 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
This winery’s downtown Napa location is more of a nightclub than a tasting salon, complete with leather couches, a huge vinyl collection, a recording studio in the back, and a small stage for live music near the front window. In short,...
610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Think of the Oxbow like a high-end shopping mall for food and wine. On the east side of the Napa River, the market brings together a number of epicurean purveyors under one roof (well, technically, it’s three different roofs). The result:...
738 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574, USA
Just about every aspect of the farm experience comes to life at Long Meadow Ranch’s public-facing facility in St. Helena. The relaxed destination includes an outdoor café, a restaurant named Farmstead, and a general store with wine-...
11455 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
Rodney Strong, a former professional dancer, opened this pioneering winery in 1959. Today, in addition to a traditional tasting room, the winery has added more sophisticated options on the Terrace, an outdoor lounge that looks out on vineyards....
6752 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, USA
The country-style NOMAD Heritage Library at Stewart Cellars’ downtown Yountville tasting room has the look and feel of a worldly traveler’s living room: It’s full of books. Rumor has it the titles are tomes that owner Michael...
915 Oakville Cross Rd, Oakville, CA 94562, USA
It’s hard to ponder the growth of Napa Valley without thinking of Silver Oak. The cult-favorite Oakville winery has been producing some of the region’s best cabernet sauvignon since the 1970s, and after more than 40 years, the majority...
1601 Silverado Trail S, St Helena, CA 94574, USA
In 1989, Chilean winemakers Augustin and Valeria Huneeus happened upon a 280-acre parcel of land in the heart of Rutherford that had never been planted with vines. The couple jumped and bought it. The result is Quintessa, one of the most...
4605 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
Visitors to this modern Russian River Valley winery receive a personal greeting and a glass of sparkling wine as they walk up—an appropriate welcome for a relaxed-yet-sophisticated few hours. Most tastings take place in the comfortable and...
7227 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
Entering the reservations-only Williams Selyem winery may feel like a walking into a wine barrel—and that’s by design. The architects incorporated wood from old redwood wine tanks for a more authentic feel. Wine lovers call the...
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