The 16 Top Wineries in California - Top California Wineries to Visit

Napa Valley is no longer the only place to go in California for an incredible wine-centric experience; over the past 50 years, it has risen to produce wine as prestigious as the Old World varietals found in Burgundy and Piedmont. Winemakers in California's varied landscape are turning out Chardonnays, Zinfandels, and everything in between that have received rave reviews from the wine world's top experts.

The second most popular wine region, Sonoma County, is Napa's less glitzy but equally important neighbor that produces spectacular Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (it produces more than any other wine region in the state), among other varietals, that have established itself as important to collect from as the county next door Among the lesser-known wine regions that are emerging as major players include the Central Coast, which is home to Paso Robles, Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, all of which are areas to watch for serious wine enthusiasts and are bringing incredible bottles at excellent prices to the market

We polled six California-based sommeliers, wine writers, and industry insiders for their recommendations on the best wineries in the state. We also include suggestions for specific bottles from each category that will impress your guests and make you wonder how you ever celebrated the holidays or special occasions without them.

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Napa Valley's Dominus Estate

best california wineries dominus estate napa

Domaine Dominus

Dominus Estate is located just north of Yountville in Napa Valley; its founder, Christian Moueix, is best known for his involvement with Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux's Pomerol region. One of Napa Valley's greatest treasures was produced from his organic and dry-farmed 134-acre plot of famed terroir. Wines from the 1980s and 1990s taste almost identical to serious classified Bordeaux, bringing to mind the best of both worlds in a single glass. In a timeless fashion, this Estate is fully expressing Napa's potential. The Dominus Estate is their most expensive wine, but their Napa Nook label is an excellent value for the money. Master Sommelier and Creator of SommSelect Ian Cauble

Cabernet Sauvignon Blend: A Recommendation

Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Eden Vineyards

"The Santa Cruz Mountains, specifically Mount Eden, are what first come to mind. It's a historic estate that's been in the same family for generations, and their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all excellent. The wines are timeless, reliable, and incredibly affordable considering their provenance. SommSelect's editorial director and James Beard Award-winning writer and sommelier David Lynch

Try a bottle of Domaine Eden's Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Napa Valley, Where the Frogs Jump

"John Williams is a pioneer in the Napa Valley wine industry. He moved there in the early 1970s." After stints at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Spring Mountain Vineyard, he established Frog's Leap Winery in 1981, with a mission to produce wines of the highest quality through dry farming and organic methods, in the tradition of the finest French estates. Frog's Leap is currently the best bargain in all of Napa, and its wines are a brilliant illustration of the region's celebrated Rutherford Terroir. The most well-known wines are the Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, but all of them are delicious. Cauble, Ian.

What to Drink: 2019 Merlot from Frog's Leap

Napa Quintessa

quintessa napa


When you walk the property known as Quintessa, remember the dedication to preservation, sustainability, and regenerative farming that Valeria Huneeus made. Quintessa's wines are among the best in the world because of the superior fruit, thriving vineyards, and harmonious ecosystem. My tastebuds tell me that a vineyard's vitality is reflected in its wine. Tonya Pitts, renowned wine expert and sommelier

The 2018 Quintessa, a Recommendation

Santa Rita Hills; Domaine de la Cote

Taking the best Pinot Noir clones to the furthest western plots of the Santa Rita Hills and fermenting the wines with whole clusters, renowned sommelier Raj Parr released Domaine de La Cote in 2011. The end results have been nothing short of miraculous, with California now producing some of the most aromatic and nuanced Pinot Noir in the world. In a blind tasting, the Blooms Field always performs like incredible Chambolle Musigny, and the wines from DDLC can age to the point where they are on par with the best examples of Grand Cru Burgundy. sleek and sophisticated with a hearty dose of earthy flavor "

Cauble, Ian.

Domaine de la Côte's "Bloom Fields" Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is highly recommended.

The Napa Valley Wine Country of Mayacamas

mayacamas winery napa


Vineyards in the Mayacamas [ located high above the Napa Valley on the slopes of Mount Veeder You'll pay more here than you would at Mount Eden, but you'll get wines of exceptional quality and longevity. Their Chardonnay is as close as California gets to the French white Burgundies, and their Cabernet Sauvignon was included in the famous "Judgement of Paris" tasting. quote by David Lynch

Mayacamas Chardonnay from Mount Veeder in Napa Valley is recommended.

Vintner Santa Rita Hills by Tyler Winery

"Tyler Winery, in my opinion, routinely produces some of the best Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County, if not the entire state. On the wine list, you'll find several of their single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The Mae Estate, from their brand-new estate vineyard, is one of their most promising offerings. " — Tristan Pitre, Advanced Sommelier and Restaurant & Wine Collection Manager at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito

Try some of Tyler Winery's Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir from the La Rinconada Vineyard.

CA: RAEN Sonoma

It was in 2013 that RAEN was founded by Carlo Mondavi and his brother Dante. While Robert Mondavi is best known for his Cabernet Sauvignon, which was on par with or even better than the best Bordeaux had to offer, his grandsons Carlo and Dante are making Pinot Noirs on the Sonoma Coast that are reminiscent of the perfumed Chambolle region of Burgundy. When I serve this wine blind, everyone always assumes it's a high-quality Burgundy, and I can see why.

Far from being a mass-market brand, RAEN is all about meticulous, sustainable viticulture and resolutely natural, small-batch production; as a result, it has quickly ascended to the elite ranks, and for all the right reasons." The adoration of'site' is identical to the adoration of i e the subtleties that a particular vineyard brings out in Pinot Noir, which you can observe at the great family-run domaines of Burgundy. All of the wines are serious, but the Freestone Occidental Vineyard's savory undertone always makes me think of my favorite Morey-Saint-Denis from Burgundy. The newly released 19s are among the finest wines ever made. I. Cauble

A Recommendation: Pinot Noir from RAEN Winery's Freestone Occidental Bodega Vineyard

Berkeley's Broc Cellars

I highly recommend Broc Cellars to anyone visiting the Bay Area because it is conveniently located in Berkeley. They've been in the wine business for quite some time, and their wines are known for their unique blends of grapes from all over California. Their Amore Bianco wine is my favorite of the Amore Trio collection. Wine Style author and award-winning food writer Kate Leahy

Here's a suggestion: the 2020 Kou Kou Cabernet Franc from Broc Cellars.


For natural, sustainable winemaking that draws inspiration from some of Northern California's most underappreciated but spectacular vineyards, my current favorite spot is Pax in Sebastopol. Although Pax is best known for his Syrah, my current favorite wine of his is the Alta Monte Gamay; it's a stunning representation of two stunning Gamay vineyards in Sonoma County. SommSelect Wine Club Manager Dana Porusch

Sonoma's Scribe Winery

sonoma wineries

Libra Patronus

"Scribe is adored by all." You get a ton of tasty little bites and a gorgeous panorama of the Sonoma countryside. ", Kate Leahy

Try the 2018 Atlas East Cabernet Sauvignon from Scribe Winery.

Napa, California (Massican)

Massican in Napa is a favorite because winemaker Dan Petroski is also committed to organic farming methods and he uses some interesting Italian grape varieties. Massican's 'Annia,' a blend of Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Chardonnay, is the Italian wine I've always dreamed of. Napa Valley's renditions of these Italian grape varieties are unlike anything else being produced in California right now. The Somm 6 wine club was fortunate to have this wine featured in June. A quote from: Dana Porusch

2020 Massican Anniversary Experiment

Santa Cruz Mountains; Rhys Vineyards

To plant some of the most beautiful sites in the cooler westerly areas of the Santa Cruz Mountains just south of Pescadero, Rhys spared no expense. They plant densely and employ cutting-edge winemaking practices, resulting in profound Pinot Noir expressions that are exquisitely balanced between earth and fruit. Fog frequently covers the vineyard in the Horseshoe region of the SCM, making for a slow maturation process that results in a wine with an incredible aromatic profile. Author: Ian Cauble

We recommend the Pinot Noir from Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Napa Valley's Corison Winery

corison winery napa

Corison Vineyards

My go-to Napa Valley Cabernets are the ones made at Corison. Despite the trend toward stylistic homogenization among winemakers, Corison's wines retain their own unique character. The best wines in the world, like Cathy Corison's Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, are defined by their ability to evoke a specific time and place. Says Tristan Pitre

Try the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from Corison Kronos.

Hollister's Eden Rift Vineyards

Located in Cienega Valley, Eden Rift Vineyards produces Burgundian-style Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that, in my opinion, epitomize the best of California winemaking and agriculture. Eden Rift's "Terraces" Pinot Noir is my go-to because I tend to stick to Pinot and Chardonnay. It's 100% Pinot Noir from the Calera clone, and it's a symphony of flavor and finesse. Dana Porusch

Recommended: 2018 Eden Rift Terraces Estate Pinot Noir

Napa Valley Vineyards by Robert Sinskey

I recommend Robert Sinskey if you want a taste of traditional Napa without all the hype. It was an early advocate of organic farming in Napa, and it has always made sure to pair food with its tastings. '', Kate Leahy

Try the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Sinskey Vineyards' Stags Leap Estate.

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A Lauren Wicks1Lauren Wicks

Birmingham-based Lauren Wicks writes about home decor, must-have items, vacation ideas, and party planning. She has an unhealthy preoccupation with textiles with a global vibe, throwing dinner parties, and French cocktails.  

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