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5 Reasons to Love California Wine Country This Summer

Plan your summer visit to California wine country!

With summer in full swing, there’s no better time to get outside—and no better place to do it than California wine country. The summer season is a special time in the Golden State’s diverse wine regions, when winery patios beckon, al fresco activities abound and vines grow heavy with grape clusters for the coming vintage.

Here are five reasons to love California wine country this summer:

Wine Country is Always Nearby

Wherever you’re in California, wine country is just a short trip away. With more than 4,200 wineries statewide, from San Diego to the Oregon border, there’s always something new to discover. To find wineries in your area, use the Discover California Wines search tool.

Wineries Host Fun Outdoor Activities—from Hiking to Cycling to Yoga

summer wine country yoga
Yoga followed by wine tasting is a perfect pairing at Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles. Castoro Cellars photo.

With gorgeous weather and sunny skies, summer is the perfect time of year to go outside and get active. California wineries offer an array of outdoor activities to get your blood pumping. At Alexander Valley Vineyards, join a daily vineyard hike to learn about the vines while sampling the latest vintages. Clif Family Winery offers Napa Valley cycling excursions that include bike rentals and a post-ride tasting at the winery. In Paso Robles, Castoro Cellars’ resident instructor leads yoga classes and retreats among the vines, and the winery also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course. At Wente Vineyards in Livermore Valley, golfers can hit the links on an 18-hole championship course with panoramic vineyard views. At Windy Oaks, visitors can take a self-guided hike through the vineyard to a ridgetop picnic spot overlooking the Monterey Bay. Saddle up at Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards for a horseback trail ride before settling down for a tasting on the winery’s garden patio overlooking Silicon Valley.

Winery Gardens Beckon

summer wine country garden
A formal French garden at Domaine Carneros in Napa is one of the gardens to visit in California wine country. Domaine Carneros photo.

There’s nothing like meandering through a lush, beautiful garden in the warm sunshine to lift your spirits—especially in the summer, when winery gardens burst with fragrant flowers and estate-grown produce. In Sonoma County, explore seven distinct gardens at Kendall-Jackson Estate & Gardens, or enjoy the sustainability-focused veggie garden at Quivira Vineyards. Stroll among the blooms at Deaver Vineyards’ sister operation, the Amador Flower Farm. In Napa, a formal French garden greets visitors to Domaine Carneros, and the Vineyard Experience at B Cellars begins with a tour of the winery’s garden planted with vegetables, fruits, greens and flowers. The Farms-to-Table tour at Wheeler Farms features a visit to the winery’s extensive gardens, home to edible plantings and a heritage fruit tree orchard. Explore the 250-tree orchard at Buttonwood Farm Vineyard in Santa Barbara County or take in the beauty of the winery’s cut-flower garden.

For more listings of these winery activities and offerings throughout California, use the Discover California Wines search tool or visit the websites for California’s regional winery associations.

Clusters Come to Life

summer wine country vineyard
Visitors ride a shuttle for an in-depth look at winegrape growing while tasting wine in the vineyards at Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma Valley. Benziger Family Winery photo.

Summer is an exciting time in the vineyards, when grape clusters ripen and the promise of a new vintage builds the anticipation. Early in the season, tiny flowers bloom on the vines and turn into green berries. By mid-summer, grapes for the red varieties begin their dramatic transformation from bright green to crimson. Visitors can learn about the grapes’ fascinating journey during an electric minibus tour of Ponte Winery’s 310-acre ranch in Temecula, as well as during Benziger Family Winery’s private shuttle tours through its Sonoma County vineyards and garden habitats. At Six Sigma Ranch & Winery in Lake County, take a vineyard tour on an all-terrain Pinzgauer vehicle, or hike and bike along the winery’s roads and wildflower trails.

Summer Produce Stars at Winery Restaurants

summer wine country outdoor table
Several winery restaurants showcase farm-to-table cuisine, including Long Meadow Ranch’s Farmstead Restaurant in Napa Valley. Long Meadow Ranch photo.

Summer brings a bounty of fresh, sustainably grown California produce, from ripe tomatoes and summer squash to artichokes and peaches. Many wineries have culinary gardens that guests can visit, and several operate their own onsite restaurants—often with scenic patio seating—showcasing farm-to-table California cuisine.

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in Napa Valley highlights produce from the family farm. Rustic at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma County sources herbs and produce from the winery gardens. Local ingredients star at the Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek Winery and The Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery—both in Temecula—as well as The Restaurant at Justin (Justin Vineyards & Winery), Cass Winery Café and Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles. The café at Lodi’s Michael-David Winery features produce grown locally or onsite.



Can’t visit Wine Country this summer? Try out these Spring & Summer Wine Cocktails or check out our recipes for Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes and this Heirloom Tomato Tart to bring some Golden State sunshine home.

Summer Wine Cocktail Strawberry Lemon Smash