10 Best California Wineries with a View
Updated August 12, 2019
Whether it's fog-laced redwoods on the Sonoma Coast, manicured gardens near Santa Barbara, or one of the best views of Los Angeles, you'll find plenty to ooh and ahh over at these picture-perfect California wineries. The scenery is always free, and tasting fees are usually waived if you purchase a bottle of wine. Trust us: You'll want to savor the views long after your glass is empty.
Pictured: La Encantada Vineyard at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
Melville's tasting room is on the ground floor of a Mediterranean-style villa about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara. This area falls within the larger Santa Ynez Valley, which was immortalized in the movie Sideways. Complete with French doors that lead to an expansive patio, the villa has an area where you can enjoy your picnic lunch—paired with a glass of small-lot, estate-grown pinot noir, of course.
A fountain out back—the site of an outdoor tasting bar on weekends—contributes to a casual, backyard feel at this biodynamic winery. Access the tasting room by driving down a long gravel road. Get rewarded with unobstructed views of surrounding vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills (part of the larger Santa Ynez Valley). The pinot noir is renowned here as well.
This Napa Valley winery complex is luxurious and architecturally striking, with splendid views from the rooftop deck. The opulent interior reflects the best of its European and Californian influences. The tasting room overlooks the vineyards on the valley floor of Rutherford and Oakville. While you're here, you can take expensive sips of petit verdot, cabernet franc, and malbec.
Along the upper portion of the Dry Creek Valley appellation—on Dry Creek Road—is one of the best views of Lake Sonoma. Stop in at Ferrari-Carano, which produces some of the most celebrated chardonnays in the state. Before heading for the underground tasting bar, take a good long look at Lake Sonoma down below and stroll through the winery's 5 acres of flower gardens that feature around 10,000 tulips each spring.
Former nursery owners from Pennsylvania intent on making a career change to viticulture scooped up this prime slice of real estate along the Sonoma Coast in the late 1980s. Today, the winery produces award-winning chardonnay and pinot noir—but it's the view that you won't forget. From the tasting room, you'll see layers of coastal fog creeping across moss-covered trees and wispy pines. Make an appointment for a tour to walk through the vineyard and taste two or three wines.
Perched high above the Rutherford appellation on Auberge Road, and at the end of a curvy, uphill drive, is one of two HALL tasting rooms—the second and more popular location is along the main drag (Route 29). Inside and out, the smaller, more intimate tasting room resembles a chic home with windows looking out onto the vineyards. Modern art on the walls, along with a glamorous underground cellar (with 14,000 square feet of caves and a communal table for events or private tastings), make this one of Napa's most luxurious sipping spots.
This Napa Valley winery's tasting room is so high up that you have to catch an aerial tram to reach it. The facility—which mimics the stark white architecture of the Greek islands—offers not only tastings but also art galleries, glimpses of wine production through glass windows, and elevated walkways. Not to mention the breathtaking views.
A French-style estate with a wide deck showing off the Carneros appellation, Domaine Carneros ranks among California's best sparkling-wine houses—in part because it's owned by Taittinger, a celebrated French Champagne producer. Table service (a rarity at California wineries) on the terrace allows you to order not only bubbly flights or bottles, but also cheese plates, caviar, smoked salmon, and pastries. What better way to take in the view?
Yorkville Cellars is a small-production winery producing bordeaux-style blends as well as malbec and semillon. The Mendocino County estate, situated along the region's rugged coastline, is the perfect spot to snag a cat nap or snack on a wedge of artisan-farmstead cheese during a hectic day of winery visits. Under the shade of mighty oak trees at an elevation of 1,000 feet above sea level, look out over redwood forests, fruit orchards, and neighboring sheep ranches.
Malibu is a shy sister to the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, but this up-and-coming wine region has a lot going for it, including, first and foremost, its proximity to Los Angeles. Just off Mulholland Highway near the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Wines sits 25 miles north of Santa Monica at the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. The 65-acre property has old barns, camels, wildflowers, and heart-stopping views of the countryside—something most L.A. visitors rarely see. The winery plants 10 varietals, all of which can be sipped on site.