You’ll soon see that California‘s global reputation for amazing wine is well deserved. As you discover the best wine regions in California, you’ll walk through vineyards and learn how they make the wine. You can even talk to the makers themselves in tasting rooms that are as unique as the wineries.
Raise a glass (or two!) to these must-visit vineyards and wine destinations across the state. All wine lovers should add these spots to their must-visit list.
Best Wine Regions In CaliforniaHow do these rankings work?
1. Livermore Valley
East of San Francisco Bay, find vineyards, pastures, wineries and sunny days in charming Livermore Valley. It’s actually one of California’s oldest wine-growing areas. Drive or bike country roads to visit more than 40 wineries! Stop by the elegant Wente Vineyards for its lush gardens, creative cuisine, vineyard tours and three tasting rooms.
Lodi Wine Country, 133km east of San Francisco, is an American Viticultural Area famous for mellow wines. There’s thousands of hectares of vineyards and Lodi Rules grapevines are certified as sustainable. So, you can feel good about what you sip.
Start any tasting tour at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, which rotates its selection of wines from nearly 80 local wineries. More and more varieties are being produced, but a full-bodied New World wine is a favourite. Did you know that more than 40% of California’s Zinfandel comes from Lodi?
3. Napa Valley
In Napa, you’ll will find world-famous wineries, spacious tasting rooms and beautiful hotels along the Silverado Trail. Think Napa Valley, and most wine lovers think Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
And sure, the Napa Valley is a single appellation, or AVA (American Viticultural Area). But there’s actually 16 sub-appellations, each with its own distinctive microclimate, and often, its own signature grapes.
As you travel around Sonoma County, you’ll quickly encounter the Wine Road. It’s not actually a road in the sense of a single, continuous stretch of highway. It’s more so a group of wineries that dates back to 1976 and now has nearly 200 estates among the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys.
Visit pretty Sonoma Valley city for its 24 tasting rooms that will tempt you to sample award-winning vintages without leaving town.
California wine country nearly reaches the Mexican border in San Diego County, where the proud winemaking tradition is the state’s oldest and dates to the 18th century. Hungry Hawk Vineyards & Winery grows 15 types of grapes on vineyards with spectacular views of the San Pasqual Valley.
6. Temecula Valley
An easy drive from both San Diego and Los Angeles, the is Southern California’s largest wine region. With more than 30 wineries, including some with bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels, the valley was named as one Wine Enthusiast’s 10 best wine travel destinations for 2019.
It’s a diverse growing region, home to everything from cooler-climate grapes like Chardonnay to such warm-weather varieties as Syrah and Grenache. The area has been producing top wines since the late 1960s. And like the best vintages, this wine country just gets better with age.
Grapes sometimes grow where you least expect them and even many California wine fanatics don’t realise that there’s quality winemaking in the high country of Tehachapi. Halfway between the desert cities of the Antelope Valley and Bakersfield in the Central Valley, Triassic Vineyards is celebrated for its Zinfandel and Syrah. It’s a surprise pick, but it’s one of the top wine regions in California.