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By Kelly Stilwell

California reigns supreme when it comes to wine tasting in the United States. You’ll find more vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms than anywhere else in the nation. In fact, because of the Golden State, the United States places fourth in the world in wine production, behind Italy, France, and Spain. So, if a wine-tasting vacation is on your bucket list, we have the perfect five-day itinerary for you.

Sonoma County Wineries

The largest area we visited in northern California was Sonoma. With more geographical area than the other two counties, Sonoma also has more vineyards, growing 60 varieties of grapes. More vineyards equals more wineries. This region is gorgeous, and there is much to do besides tasting wines. Visit the Sonoma County website for ideas.

Jordan Winery

Jordan Winery is one of the most picturesque spots in Sonoma. We love both their Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Participating in one of their tastings is the best way to find out what you like. Jordan offers several choices, with bites prepared by Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren. My favorite tasting is through a secret door to the French-inspired cellar room. While in the area, immerse yourself in the charming town of Healdsburg.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

We’ve been members of Francis Ford Coppola Winery since our first visit more than 10 years ago. Our favorites are the Eleanor Red Wine and the Director’s Cut. We drink mostly reds, but Coppola’s Viognier is lovely. Explore their wines through one of the tasting experiences. No reservations are required to taste at the Main Bar. Book the seated tasting on the terrace or the wine and bocce experience in advance. The Coppola property tour is a must, as there is much to see with the movie memorabilia and the grounds. The Coppola winery calls Geyserville home.

Cline Family Cellars

Cline Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and all the Ancient Vines wines have been on our list of favorites for years. This winery also has quite the backstory. Fred Cline’s passion for winemaking stemmed from his grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi. If that name rings a bell, the same family designed and manufactured the Jacuzzi spa products. If you like Italian wines, visit the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards across the street from Cline.

Lake County Wineries

Lake County boasts over 30 wineries and is a paradise for wine lovers. Here’s your chance to explore Clear Lake, America’s oldest freshwater lake, and breathe the cleanest air in California. These big open spaces and the hearts of the people who live there made us want to stay longer. The Discover Lake County website is a great place to begin planning your trip.

Shannon Family of Wines

What a surprise when a winery you’ve never heard of becomes one of your favorites. Shannon has a lot to choose from, so let the friendly staff walk you through a tasting of a few of their wines. Our favorites were the Clay Shannon Red Blend, the OVIS Cabernet, and the Nero D’Avola. I also liked their Sauvignon Blanc and the Cricket Farms Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine. Ask about their woolly caretakers. It’s a great partnership!

Boatique Winery

If you’ve always wanted to stay overnight in a vineyard, here’s your chance. Boatique Winery is adjacent to a beautiful home they call The Cottage. Ask your hosts at the winery about it while you taste some of their delicious wines. I’d suggest you taste their outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, Walala Pinot Noir, and Red Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, all estate-grown. Visit the website for more information and to reserve, which is strongly encouraged. Ask to see the beautiful vessel that inspired the name.

Brassfield Estate Winery

Brassfield Estate Winery has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a cattle ranch to a successful, sustainable vineyard. They’re now renowned for their handcrafted wines, all produced with a commitment to eco-friendly farming methods. We enjoyed their Serenity Rosé of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Brassfield waives the tasting fees when you purchase two or more bottles, so why not order their charcuterie board to enjoy with one bottle in their outdoor garden and take the other home?

Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

This winery was so much fun. I’d suggest you take the wine-tasting experience, including a property tour in the Pinzgauer, similar to a Hummer on steroids! Reserve ahead on the website. We tasted Marianne’s Rosé, Diamond Mine Red Blend, Cuvée Annette, and Reserve Tempranillo, which was my favorite. The Stage Coach Stop Tasting Room was an actual stagecoach stop in the 1800s, so stop in and browse the wine, food, and gift items you can take home.

Wild Diamond Vineyards

The red volcanic soil at Wild Diamond Vineyards is perfect for grape growing. This vineyard sits at a 2,200-foot elevation with 9,000 acres of vineyards, and the views go on forever. This is the ideal place to taste a few of their wines, like the Dumb Luck Grenache or the Wild Diamond Cabernet Franc. Grab a bottle of your favorite wine and take a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs while you enjoy those views.

Napa Valley

With more than 400 wineries and a staggering 90 tasting rooms, Napa Valley has rightfully earned the title of Tasting Room Capital of the World. You’ll also find a plethora of activities in this area, so get out and explore. Check out the Visit Napa Valley website and start planning.

Raymond Vineyards

Raymond Vineyards is not your average vineyard and winery. Take the Winemaker for a Day class, and you’ll don a shiny lab coat and blend four varietals into your own Bordeaux-style red blend that you’ll bottle and take home that day! With a fun playlist blaring in the background, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget. Other tasting experiences are available, so check out their website and reserve ahead.

Hall Wines

Hall Wines crafts some of the most distinctive and popular wines in Napa Valley. Try some of our favorites, like the Kathryn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery offers a wealth of tasting experiences, including the Cabernet Collector Tasting, which we did. The HALLmark tasting includes a stroll around the property, exploring their art collection, chatting about their wine-making philosophy, and wine tasting with cheeses. Reserve in advance.

Clif Family Winery & Farm Tasting Room

Do you recognize the name? Yes, it’s the same family that created the Clif Bar. This winery is laid-back and fun, with a food truck that cranks out some fantastic food. We enjoyed their Grenache, Rosé of Grenache, Proprietary Red Wine Blend, and the Cabernet Sauvignon. Clif Family Winery welcomes walk-ins. Go for a tasting and lunch. Check out their website for tasting experiences.


  • Tastings are usually complimentary for members, so if you find something you like, join! You’ll save a bundle on your favorite wines. Most wineries will waive your tasting fee or apply it to your first purchase if you’ve already paid.
  • Check each website before you go to see if they have special events. You may want to arrange your schedule to attend something special.

Every winery on this list produces award-winning wines, so pick and choose, visit them all, or take a look at their websites and place an order to taste at home. Some even have virtual tastings! Either way, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring Northern California wines.

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