It’s California Wine Month, and where could be a better place to celebrate September than Northern California, home to one of the greatest wine-making regions in the world?
Napa Valley might get much of the acclaim for Northern California’s wine production, but our ideal climate allows vineyards to thrive all over the region, including many right here in the Bay Area.
Here’s a quick look at three of my top recommendations to visit ASAP:
- Chateau Montelena | Calistoga, CA
This fairytale chateau set in the heart of world-famous Napa Valley is perhaps most distinguished for its 1973 Chardonnay vintage’s victory in the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” blind competition—a feat that ultimately inspired the movie Bottle Shock. However, a lesser-known distinction of the winery is its elegant approach to providing customized experiences. Parts of the imposing English Gothic edifice can be reserved for private functions, and members of the Chateau’s wine club can relax in the idyllic Chinese Garden. For a truly luxurious tasting, you may contact the concierge about arranging a private event tailored to your every desire.
Looking for more casual enjoyment? Choose from a range of seated tasting options, including a scenic experience on the hillside deck. Since luxury and attentive service are hallmarks of the Chateau, reservations are needed to ensure proper planning. The winery is about a two-hour drive from San Francisco, but if you’re already in the city, get an urban taste of Chateau Montelena at the sleek tasting room in Union Square’s Westin St. Francis, which accommodates walk-ins.
- Wente Vineyards | Livermore, CA
Livermore Valley houses much of East Bay’s winemaking market, and few of its vintners are more prolific than Wente. Celebrating its 140th harvest just this month, Wente Vineyards is hailed as the nation’s oldest winery to be owned and operated continuously by one family; currently, it’s operated by a fifth-generation winegrower! Also of note: it was one of California’s very first tasting rooms, and it features an 18-hole championship course designed by Greg Norman. Still not impressed? The Wente property (and its stem clones) are responsible for more than three-quarters of all Chardonnay stems in the entire state of California!
So take a day to unwind at Wente: play a round of golf, sip glasses of Certified Sustainable vintages, and soak up this property’s rich history. Reservations are encouraged for all, and you can even book a Reserve Tasting that includes delectable dishes designed to accentuate the wine flavors.
- Clos LaChance Vineyards | San Martin, CA
This hidden gem in South Bay’s Hayes Valley sprouted from a simple backyard experiment into a remarkable commercial winery boasting 150 planted acres. Offering Certified Sustainable wines, the family-run-and-operated vineyard accommodates small-group walk-ins and large-party table reservations alike. Take your pick of picturesque gathering venues all around the grounds, including the Grove, the Lawn, and the Terrace, and spend some time savoring harvest wines with family and friends.
Sunday afternoons are a wonderful time to visit; live music resonates throughout the vineyard from 12pm to 3pm, and you can order tasty food from Bistro Clos or even bring your own picnic to enjoy. Evenings are quite lively, too; this month, Clos LaChance wraps up its Summer Tribute Concert Series, but it continues to host regular KRTY Songwriter events for the 2023 Song & Wine Series, where top songs are sung beneath the stars by the writers themselves.
These are just a few of the many jewels in our area’s trove of treasured vineyards. If you’re looking for more options far or near, just let me know. Happy California Wine Month! 🙂