Ultimate Guide to the Best Wines in California 2023


In California, the best wines aren’t just from Napa and Sonoma (although there are plenty of those too). The state has over 400 wineries, so deciding where to go for winetasting or either buy some can be difficult. Here’s a list of some of the best Wineries and Wines in the state, all within an hour’s drive of each other. Each one comes with it’s own strengths that make it worth visiting, whether it’s the gorgeous setting or top-notch service to be had at these wineries.


Napa Wineries

Napa Valley is a major wine region in California. While it’s probably best known for its red wines, Napa Valley has world-class wineries producing whites and everything else, as well. In fact, some of Napa’s most famous wineries (such as Silver Oak) specialize in excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir—both white varieties.

Napa Valley is well-known for producing excellent Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well. The valley’s most famous wineries (including Silver Oak and Opus One) produce these wines alongside Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Viognier and other white varieties.

And there are plenty of lesser-known producers that do a great job with red wine grapes, too. In fact, some of Napa’s best red wines come from smaller producers who focus on Cabernet Franc or Petite Sirah—varieties that aren’t widely planted elsewhere in California.

As with any wine region, there are many styles of wine produced throughout Napa Valley—and not all of them are created equal.


Sonoma Wineries

Being located between Napa and Sonoma Counties, you’ll have lots of options when it comes to visiting wineries. Many of these wineries are family-owned and are more focused on providing a personal experience than big-name recognition. If you enjoy exploring charming towns, tasting local products, and eating at local restaurants, you’ll likely fall in love with Sonoma County just as many people do. It has all that a wine aficionado is looking for!

With so many wineries located in Sonoma County, it can be difficult to know where you should spend your time. If you’re just beginning your wine-tasting journey, i suggest to focus on the area sorrounding Route 29 between Napa and Healdsburg. We think you’ll find their offerings are well worth a visit!


Livermore Valley Wineries

The Livermore Valley is a wine-producing region in Alameda County, California. It is located on both sides of Interstate 580, about east of San Francisco, and roughly just north of Oakland. The area has been called The Napa Valley of the East Bay due to its reputation as an upscale location for growing premium wine grapes, although some vineyards are located at higher elevations than those that typically produce premium wines. With proximity also to San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe (via State Route 4), it is considered one of Northern California’s premier growing regions. Several vintners have won regional and national awards for their wines.

There are almost thirty wineries located within Livermore Valley. The majority of wineries are small, family-owned operations, although several large-scale producers have been established here as well. Common varietals planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. The nearby Carneros AVA region is a separate appellation with similar viticultural and oenological characteristics but different boundaries than those delineating Livermore Valley.



Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is an American Viticultural Area of coastal mountain range in California, USA. An appellation is a wine-growing region with defined boundaries within which grapes can only be grown and wine produced if they meet certain legal requirements. The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation lies on a narrow coastal strip between Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay. This coastal area has long been popular for wineries because of its Mediterranean climate, moderate rainfall, cool nights and fog. The first vineyards were planted here by George Fred Keene Vierra around 1870.

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is home to more than 75 wineries, many of which are small and family-owned. The area covers 400 square miles (1,036 km2) and encompasses 838 planted acres (3.3 km2) of vineyards within an area bounded by Monterey Bay, San Francisco Bay, Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Loma Prieta. The region includes parts of three counties: Santa Cruz County and southern parts of San Mateo County and Monterey County.



Paso Robles Wineries

Paso Robles is a wine-growing region with several wineries and many vineyards. There are four separate AVAs that comprise Paso Robles: Adelaida District, San Miguel District, Santa Margarita District, and Santa Rosa Hills. In addition to these 4 areas there are 3 others (listed below) which just fall short of qualifying as an AVA on their own.

Many wineries are located here and enjoy a dry Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. For optimal growth and production, grapevines must be planted on ridges facing east or west. Due to these ideal conditions, many vineyards have been planted in Paso Robles.

Major Vineyards – Paso Robles: The main grapes grown are chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah.



Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

This Cab is as good as it gets. I know, it seems absurd to even mention a $1000+ wine but screaming eagle has been so well respected for such a long time now, that it’s just criminal not to include it on a list of great wines from California. The grapes are grown at an insanely high elevation and take an insane amount of time (and money) before they’re bottled, so that you can taste pure glory. If you happen to come across one for sale, snatch it up fast because these bottles rarely last long on shelves once purchased by someone else! A perfect addition to any top 10 best wines from california list!



Realm Cellars The Absurd Proprietary Red, Napa Valley

There are a lot of people in Napa who think you can’t make Pinot Noir. They’re very wrong. The Absurd is a pure expression of our vineyard, ripe with black cherry and red raspberry aromas that give way to supple tannins and a lingering finish. It’s an absurd wine, but one we make all year long with no oak whatsoever. When I was 20 years old and couldn’t quite articulate what I wanted to do with my life, my parents bought me some property in St. Helena so I could have time to figure it out on my own terms.

This wine has everything you want from a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and yet it’s about as far from conventional as it gets. Imagine opening a walk-in closet and discovering your grandfather’s top hat.

This wine is opaque purple and smells like licorice and smoke. It tastes like blueberries, black cherries, and currants. The finish is long and luxurious.



Abreu Vineyard Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

This rich and luscious wine has aromas of blackberries, ripe plum, sandalwood and cedar. On the palate there are notes of dark chocolate and black tea. The tannins are soft as is always a characteristic of Abreu Vineyard wines. There is a slight menthol aftertaste that lingers long into your next sip. The wine finishes long with firm structure showing you why it is considered one of Napa’s best wines at an affordable price point at around $40. The nose shows raspberry, cherry and currant fruit intermingled with smoky oak, graphite and mineral accents.


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Sloan Proprietary Red, Rutherford

This bold, rich red is sourced from some of Napa Valley’s best vineyards. With hints of sweet cherries and fresh raspberries, you’ll love taking your first sip of Sloan Proprietary Red. It pairs well with porterhouse steak, salmon and risotto. But let’s be honest—it tastes great all on its own!

Also, be sure to check out the rest of Sloan’s wine varieties. You can find great deals on their website and have your order shipped right to your doorstep. It’s just another way that Sloan is helping you make wine a part of your life. And with over fifty years as one of Napa Valley’s top producers, you know you can trust Sloan wines every time!




Booker Oublie Red, Paso Robles

This Zinfandel-based red blend is rich, luscious and bursting with flavors of blackberry, cassis and a hint of chocolate. The complexity on the palate is mirrored by a smooth texture, adding to its appeal. Booker Oublie Red can be enjoyed as an apéritif or with cheese, charcuterie or desserts. The wine has good aging potential for up to 10 years if kept at cool temperatures (ideally under 65 degrees).

If you like your wine rich and smooth, grab a bottle of Booker Oublie Red before it’s gone; it’s been bottled for just a few months. I doubt it will last long.

You’ll find notes of cherries, licorice and blackberries mingling together with cocoa, vanilla and tobacco. It’s perfect for pairing with hearty beef dishes or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous: pair it with chocolate cake!



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