California Vineyards Top Picks

California Vineyards Offer Great Wine Options on US Soil


Nearly 90 percent of the wine made in the United States comes from over 1,200 wineries spread across California’s vineyards. In fact, if the state were its own country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest wine producer. So how to choose the best from all that the Golden State has to offer? Here to help are a few suggestions from our savvy sales associates Doug Yacka, Laura Mooney, and Sam Davies.
Tensley Syrah, Santa Barbara – 2014
Aromas of black pepper, violet, and anise evoke its Rhône ancestry, but this Syrah is all Cali on the palate. Expect a burst of dark, rich, almost-jammy blueberry and blackberry fruit with just enough tannin for balance. This will surely warm you up on a chilly night! – DY

Forlorn Hope “Suspiro Del Moro” Alvarelhão – 2014
What happens when a grape typically used to make port is grown in California vineyards? Awesomeness. In Matthew Rorick’s capable—and notably eccentric hands—the Alvarelhão grape turns into an exquisite aromatic wonder with rose petal and blood orange flavors rising out of the glass. This is one of the coolest things happening in the California wine scene and will put to rest any forlorn feelings you may have had about wine from the west coast. -LM

Dashe Cellars Ancient Vines “Bedrock Vineyard” – 2012
The Dashe Cellars Ancient Vines “Bedrock Vineyard” red blend is another stunning example from the small, family-operated California vineyard. Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Zinfandel are fermented separately and then blended together for an intense concentration of flavor. Juicy blackberry, mocha, and spicy tobacco jump out of the glass and stay velvety smooth on the palate. -LM
Ambyth Estates, Zinfandel “CrossLynn” – 2011
Finally, a Zinfandel that isn’t so concentrated that I feel the need to spread it on toast. This Zin is loaded with juicy ripe fruit and fresh green herbs. Instead of puckering your cheeks, you’ll be smacking your lips with its lively acidity. This may be an atypical Zin from Paso Robles—but to me, it’s a breath of fresh air! -SD