Home to seven wineries, Treasure Island offers a full day of wine tasting just a short drive halfway across the Bay Bridge. The former naval base has been converted into a hideaway for locals to enjoy flea markets, music festivals, galleries and, of course, wines. There is a winery for every palate on the island, but it’s really a red lover’s dream. Using grapes from all over California, these tasting rooms often offer free tastings of their Cabernet Sauvignons, Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs. Three places to visit include The Winery, Fat Grape Winery and Sottomarino Winery.
Just west of Jack London Square, Alameda is the quieter, quainter sister to Oakland’s trendy food and beer scene. Home to just three wineries, it’s worth the trip through the tunnel for the funky wines from Rock Wall Wine Company, R&B Cellars and Building 43. True to Alameda’s naval history, these tasting rooms offer experiences like great views of the bay, tasting right in the winemaker’s Victorian home or vintage-inspired bars. If three stops isn’t enough for the winos in the group, there are also a few options just back through the tunnel.
As far east as you can go and still be considered Bay Area, Livermore is a not-so-hidden gem for those in the (wine) know. Vintners around the world flock to the tri-valley wine country for the acres of vineyards and the diverse selection of wines. Home to 40+ different wineries, there truly is something for everyone, and it is nearly impossible to try them all. For a newly added touch, you can reserve a spot on the Livermore Wine Trolley and roll from tasting room to tasting room without having to worry about operating a vehicle. These are just a few of the newer wineries on the scene: Occasio Winery, Vasco Urbano Wine Company, and Longevity Wines.
Santa Cruz Mountains
Tucked into the mountains seemingly worlds away from the crowded beaches of Santa Cruz is a culture of wine, food and redwoods. While this spot is a little more precarious to navigate than some other areas, it’s worth it to crown a sober driver and experience not only the delicious wines but also the picturesque landscape. The Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association has more than 850 square miles of the California coast, so choose a few neighboring wineries and tackle it one adventure at a time. Wineries to note are Cinnabar Winery, Silver Mountain Vineyards and Rexford Winery.
A little farther south, Monterey Wine Country seemingly infuses ocean views and vibes into its wines. Comprised of Monterey, Carmel, Salinas and Big Sur, this region is also one that takes more than one day to explore. The Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association recommends following its ‘Three Perfect Day’ model, which gives wine drinkers a plan to navigate the area. While checking out Pessagno Winery, Boekenoogen Winery and Chateau Sinnet, be sure to also drink in the fantastic views of the cliffs along the way.
If you are looking for an experience like Napa but without all the crowds, look just west to the Sonoma Valley. Spread between Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood is more than 100 wineries, all with that Northern California wine country charm. Like the Livermore area, Sonoma is home to some big name wineries but has excellent less known names to try as well. Divide your day by town, or just hit a few, such as Cline Cellars, Homewood Winery and Kamen Estate Wines, while you coast down Highway 12.