By Esther Mobley,
GOING WINE TASTING is one of the great Bay Area pastimes. Visiting a winery here is a chance to experience so many of the features that make this region special: the land’s natural beauty, a rich tradition of artisanal craftsmanship and a deep, abiding love for eating and drinking deliciously.
Best of all, world-class wines are now made in all corners of the Bay Area — not just in the famous appellations of Napa and Sonoma counties, but also on mountains overlooking Silicon Valley and in former military bases in the East Bay. Today’s Wine Country consists not only of palatial estates overlooking vineyards but also sleek tasting bars in downtown squares, industrial warehouses and, increasingly, sidewalks and parking lots, as urban wineries adapt to the needs of the COVID-19 era.
This list represents our favorite 25 wineries in the Bay Area to visit right now. The wineries here produce excellent bottles, of course, but we’ve also chosen them for the experiences they offer — whether that involves striking scenery, succulent food pairings or, ever more important, thoughtful safety precautions.
I used to publish a yearly 52 California Wineries feature; this is a streamlined version of it, and is not intended to be a definitive ranking. Rather, it is a snapshot of the vibrant local wine scene at this moment in time, and will be updated throughout the year. We’re also limiting the radius to the Bay Area proper to celebrate our home turf.
During the past year, as California has weathered the pandemic, the state’s wineries have shut down, reopened, shut down again, reopened again. Some of the wineries we love still aren’t back to hosting visitors; others have restricted their visitation to wine club members only, so we’ve left them off the list for now. The situation is still subject to change. Before planning a winery visit, be sure to check the local safety guidelines and make sure you’re aware of the individual winery’s protocols. Be aware that virtually all Bay Area wineries are currently requiring reservations, even those that permitted walk-ins in the past, so don’t count on showing up unannounced.
We’ll be updating this list regularly to reflect new openings, new moods and new seasons. We hope it helps you plan a great trip to Wine Country.