California is the largest and most important wine region in the USA. With mountains, valleys, plains and plateaux, California’s topography is as complex as its climate, offering winegrowers a very diverse choice of terroir. Californian wines only rose to global renown in the past few decades, notably after the Paris Judgment of 1976.
However the state’s viticultural history dates back more than 200 years. European vines were first planted here in the 18th Century, as missionaries made their way through the west coast. Today, California hosts some of the world’s largest wine companies. California produces 90 percent of American-made wine. It also supplies more than 60 percent of all wine consumed in the country.
Also Read: Discover Southern California Wine Region
The principal varieties grown in California are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. A wide range of traditional European vines also flourish, including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. Sparkling wines are produced in considerable volume. Many French Champagne houses have set up Califonian wineries such as Moet & Chandon, Roederer and Mumm.
VIDEO: Top 10 Best California Wineries to Visit in 2019
Generally, the cooler regions closer to the coast are better suited to cool climate grape varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Further inland, where the climate is much hotter, some of California’s most famous red wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are the top 10 wineries to visit in California
Raymond Vineyards has over 300 acres of estate vineyards in the Napa Valley. Raymond Vineyards, founded in 1970, is one of the Napa Valley’s pioneers and great estates. At Raymond Vineyards, visitors can be a “Winemaker for a Day” and learn the winemaker’s art while blending their own red wine from Napa’s esteemed appellations. At the end of the blending session, you take home a bottle of your own special blend featuring your own custom label.
Beringer Vineyard was founded in 1868 and is California’s Oldest Continually Operating Winery. Beringer was the first winery to give public tours in 1934, starting the Napa Valley hospitality tradition. The Beringer estate provides a unique glimpse into Napa Valley’s past. With its 19th century architecture and gardens, Beringer is one of the most beautiful properties in California’s wine country. The entire estate was designated an Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.
Helwig Vineyard was founded by Dave Helwig and his wife Nancy who were looking for the perfect place to relocate from their home in Southern California. They couldn’t resist the charm and simplicity of the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County. The Estate offers winery tours and testing sessions but also hosts many concerts during summer time.
Located in the heart of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley, Presqu’ile is a small, family-run winery dedicated to crafting exceptional cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Situated high atop a hill, with stunning ocean and vineyard views, Presqu’ile offers one of California’s most memorable wine tasting experiences
Robert Mondavi Vineyard
Robert Mondavi established this winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest. He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, California, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world, as well as for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mr. Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.
Silver Oak Cellars
Silver Oak is a 400 acres vineyards in Napa Valley and Alexander Valley certified under California’s Sustainable Winegrowing program. On the Estate visitors experience the legendary hospitality of Silver Oak at the Napa Valley and Alexander Valley wineries. You can enjoy food pairing curated by Winery Chef Dominic Orsini, book a custom wine experience or simply drop in for a taste of their current release wines.
The hospitality of Silver Oak is legendary
Macrostie Winery and Vineyards
MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, founded in 1987, was named ‘Best Winery in Sonoma’ and ‘Best Tasting Room in Napa and Sonoma’ at San Francisco Magazine’s ‘Best of Wine Country Awards. Over the past three decades, MacRostie Winery and Vineyards has established itself as one of the Sonoma Coast’s defining wineries, and a leader in a bright, balanced and age-worthy style of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Visitors can enjoy an intimate seated tasting overlooking the beautiful views from the patios or stunning indoor areas.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is notably known for being the winery that won the Cabernet Sauvignon competition in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The winery was founded in 1970, and is considered a Napa Valley first-growth estate. In the Winery, wine educators guide visitors through the iconic wines set against a gorgeous background of historic estate vineyards.
Saddlerock Ranch is well known for its wine “Safari” tours. Visitors can explore the 1,000 acre Saddlerock Ranch and vineyard in Malibu. Guide and driver team will lead the adventure on custom-built open-air Safari vehicles. You’ll make stops along the way to take in the scenery, taste local wines, and get up-close with animals such as zebras, camels, alpacas, bison, and even Stanley the Giraffe, all just 30 minutes from LA.
Co-founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards is one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to its of Sauvignon Blanc, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues today. Located in beautiful St. Helena, CA the traditionally designed Estate House and Tasting Room is a stunning wine country setting. Visitors can taste the award-winning Napa Valley wines, stroll the beautiful gardens and enjoy the vineyard view from the wrap-around veranda.