The Press - The SF Chronicle
THE 52 CALIFORNIA WINERIES YOU NEED TO VISIT IN 2019
BY ESTHER MOBLEY
You don’t have to venture far from Jack London Square in Oakland to taste some of California’s best Zinfandels. Mike and Anne Dashe began making Dry Creek Valley Zin in 1996 and now source fruit from a range of excellent vineyards, many of them historic, encompassing not only Zinfandel but also Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Carignan. Taste these wines at their warehouse-style winery; for just $15 you’ll drink better than you could at most Oakland bars.
Today, California wine country stretches all over the state, no longer confined to the familiar stretches of Napa and Sonoma. If you’re taking a road trip, you’re more likely than not to happen upon a wine region. But with more than 3,600 wineries in California, according to Wines Vines Analytics, how do you choose where to spend your money, time and alcohol tolerance?
Allow us to help. Here at The Press, our team of wine experts has been busy visiting tasting rooms from Mendocino County to Paso Robles, determining which offer the highest-quality wines, the most fun experiences and the best bang for your buck. As always, we conduct these visits according to the same principle with which our parent publication, The San Francisco Chronicle, would conduct a restaurant review: We visit anonymously and pay our own way. The fruits of that labor are the hundreds of independently conducted, expert-written winery reviews published on The Press.
But you don’t have time to read hundreds of winery reviews. So we’ve culled through our notes and come up with a collection of 52 — one for each week in 2019. This is not an all-time best-wineries-ever list; it’s a group of places that we think represents the breadth and diversity of California wineries and tasting experiences this year. Whether you want an in-depth educational tasting, an Instagram-worthy setting with delicious bites of food or simply a cheap, quick and easy tasting bar, we’ve got you covered.
The Press’ team of wine experts is led by me, Esther Mobley, and includes Virginie Boone, Matt Kettmann, Chris Macias, Sara Schneider, Tim Teichgraeber and Bryce Wiatrak. All of our work contributed to this feature.