Random Musings

California Wine Country Weekend: 8 Great Wineries to Visit

A weekend getaway to California wine country is always a good idea, but limited time means limiting the number of winery visits. We often have the good fortune of private tastings on our trips, but there are a number of great wineries with regular tasting room hours that are worth working into any itinerary.


  • I have always loved Ravenswood Winery! The staff is knowledgeable and they have a wide variety of wines to taste including the Zins they’re famous for. The wine club is a good value and offers discounts and access to some of their library wines. I only wish they still had their summertime BBQ.
  • Ferrari-Carano has a stunning facility and grounds. The gardens are perfect for photos and also a welcoming place to relax after a tour of the cellars.
  • The Kenwood Vineyards tasting room is housed in the original 1906 winery building. They have a great gift shop where you can purchase posters of their famous Artist Series labels.
  • Rochioli Vineyards & Winery is located in the Russian River Valley and is the only winery we’ve visited on every single trip to Sonoma. The tasting room is modest in size, but the patio looks out over their gorgeous vineyards. We make an afternoon of it by bringing a baguette, cheese and books to enjoy with a bottle of wine.


  • PlumpJack holds a special place in our hearts: We were married at their Squaw Valley Inn and served PlumpJack Merlot and Chardonnay at our wedding. Quirky vibe to the grounds, excellent wines and unique offerings in the gift shop.
  • Silver Oak is a historic, highly-regarded Napa winery. On the pricier side for tastings ($20), it can be crowded during the peak tourist season. But it’s worth a visit for the history alone.
  • Chateau Montelena is another Napa fixture (and the story behind the movie Bottle Shock). Rich in heritage, their grounds are perfect for a picnic.

And Beyond

Another favorite winery is Navarro Vineyards in the Anderson Valley, about an hour from Sonoma. The tasting room is beautiful, and I find their wine club to be one of the most interesting: They always seem to have something fun going on, like grape juice or Muscat, and the holiday gifts they tuck in the winter shipment are a treasure. If you can’t make it to Navarro in person, be sure to check out the Babydoll Lamb Cam in January to watch their ewes and newborn sheep.

What are your favorite California wineries to visit?

Guest blogger Lisa Dawson is married to Tom Lee. In addition to appreciating fine wine, she loves wineries that provide a memorable experience for their customers. Lisa blogs on women’s health news and pink ribbon tattoos at My Pink Ink.

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5 thoughts on “California Wine Country Weekend: 8 Great Wineries to Visit

  1. Would you also recommend Pahlmeyer, Spottswoode and Rafanelli? I’m planning a trip for next march and am starting to think about where we might want to hit…

  2. Planning on both actually. In fact we will probably head up to the Windsor/Healbsurg area as well, as I would like to hit Williams Selyem, Rochioli and Dehlinger (if possible).

    1. Rochioli may not have many bottles open but it is a great place to buy a bottle and picnic. In downtown Sonoma a must stop is Sojourn. Rafanelli and Spottswoode make some of my favorite wines but neither are what I consider great stops when visiting wine country. Outpost and Pride would be on my short list for Napa. Have fun!

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