6 California Vineyards For Those Who Know Their Wine
California is home to some of the best wine in the world, with famed vineyards from Sonoma to Santa Barbara producing exciting vintages in small production runs, some of them biodynamic and organic. In no particular order, this list looks at some winemakers that informed oenophiles should know about.
At #1, we have Rombauer Vineyards, which grows grapes in the Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley. Both of its locations have tasting rooms, where guests are invited to sample a flight of the producer's best-known wines, along with limited-production and single-vineyard bottlings.
Koerner and Joan Rombauer founded the company in 1980. Its Carneros Chardonnay has been ranked among the Top 10 Chardonnays in Wine and Spirits Magazine's annual poll. Rombauer Vineyards offers several subscriptions, so fans of the vino can select a membership that fits them best. These clubs provide savings on libations, complimentary tastings, members-only events, and more.
Coming in at #2 is Beckmen Vineyards, located in Los Olivos. A certified biodynamic grower since 2009, it produces mostly Rhone varietals such as Grenache, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Mourvedre, and Counoise. The PMV Syrah has notes of blackberry and boysenberry fruits, along with chocolate and pepper.
At the vineyard, guests can enjoy an outdoor seated tasting on a covered deck, overlooking a pond and the winery's estate. There are private gazebos available for visitors who wish to bring lunch and have a picnic on the grounds with their Beckmen wine. Members of the wine club receive discounts on all vino as well as quarterly shipments of bottles not yet released to the public.
The #3 entry is Mitchella Vineyard and Winery, a family-owned estate in Paso Robles. Founded in 1997, it produces small lots of handcrafted wines using sustainable agricultural practices. Its Bordeaux-style blend, Innuendo Noir, is a wine club exclusive and is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
The winery's Tuscan-style tasting room offers estate wines to visitors, who can choose to enjoy their beverage inside or outside on a patio; both have views of the vineyard. A selection of non-alcoholic drinks, cheeses, crackers, and other small edibles are also available for purchase.
Next up, at #4, we present Mount Eden Vineyards. It's a small historic wine estate perched at 2,000 feet overlooking Silicon Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Founded in 1945, it is considered a boutique winery, focusing on small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mount Eden plants its grapes on a cool, exposed mountaintop. In 2007, it acquired an additional 55-acre wine lot in the Saratoga foothills, christened Domaine Eden. The company also produces non-estate Chardonnays from the Central Coast, just outside the town of San Luis Obispo.
For #5, we have Sunstone, a family-run winery located just north of Santa Barbara. The grapes are farmed in a bio-sustainable manner, meeting the highest organic farming standards in viticulture. Sunstone is known for its Rhone varietals, including its Viognier and Syrah, both of which have been rated over 90 points by Wine Enthusiast.
Eros, the winery's Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, has earned Best of Class at the Los Angeles County Fair. There are many tasting experiences for visitors; the signature package comes with a dedicated wine specialist who will walk guests through the tasting list, the grape growing process, and Sunstone's history.
Rounding out our list, at #6, we present Frank Family Vineyards. Its reserve wines are produced in small quantities and are only sold at the estate and a handful of select restaurants and wine shops. Based in Calistoga, it was voted Best Napa Winery by the Bay Area A-List eight years in a row.
The tasting room is located in a restored Craftsman house. Guests may enjoy a seated experience inside or outside under elm trees, relaxing at wooden picnic tables where there are views of the vineyard. One of Frank Family's signature wines, Winston Hill, is a red blend composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.