Top 10 Wineries to Visit in Southern California

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California

Top 10 Wineries to Visit in Southern California

By Devin Parr May 3, 2024

Southern California Wine Country has a rich history dating back to the 1700s when Franciscan missionary, Father Junipero Sera, established the first known vineyard in California—in San Diego. The past few centuries have seen immense growth of Southern California’s grape growing and winemaking scene, as many sub-regions have emerged, each with its own defining microclimate and winemaking culture.

Take a road trip with us as we outline ten of our favorite Southern California wineries, from Ojai to San Diego and everywhere in between.

If you love the mountains

Ojai Mountain Estate
Photo courtesy of Ojai Mountain Estate

Ojai Mountain Estate

Ojai, CA, (805) 669-2283

Situated atop Ojai’s Sulphur Mountain at 2,800 feet above sea level, this breathtaking vineyard may not feature a traditional tasting room, but private tastings are available by appointment. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown Ojai, the journey is well worth it to savor the majestic views and high-elevation Rhône and Tempranillo wines of this new wine producer, where biodynamic and sustainable viticulture practices are the focus.

If you love the beach

Rosenthal Vineyard
Photo courtesy of Rosenthal Vineyard

Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate

18741 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265, (310) 456-1392

Beach-lovers will like stopping into Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate’s tasting room in Malibu, located literally across from the ocean on the Pacific Coast Highway. As you take in gorgeous ocean views, as well as live music and food trucks on weekends, sip the full Rosenthal lineup of wines. Grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Viognier, and Chardonnay are grown four miles inland and at 1,450 feet above sea level on the steep slopes of the Newton Canyon AVA—Rosenthal’s very own appellation dedicated to its unique microclimate—then bottled to be sipped while enjoying the true Malibu beach lifestyle.

If you love adventure

Photos courtesy of Malibu Wine Hikes

Malibu Wine Hikes

32111 Mulholland Highway, Malibu, CA 90265, (818) 578-4077

For those seeking a dose of adventure, Malibu Wine Hikes is a must. A mere 30-minute drive from Los Angeles, these offbeat wine tasting experiences invite guests to ride on custom-built, open-air safari vehicles, go on an epic guided hike, and cruise in VW “wine buses” around Malibu’s 1,000-acre Saddlerock Ranch and Vineyard. Sip wines while you explore this sprawling estate that features Chumash cave paintings and lush vineyards. If you’re looking for a private tour, you’re also covered! These more intimate experiences are especially geared towards larger groups like corporate activities and weddings, but small groups are welcome too.

If you love history

Galleano Winery in Mira Loma
Galleano Winery in Mira Loma
Galleano
Photos courtesy of Galleano

Galleano Winery

4231 Wineville Road, Mira Loma, CA 91752, (951) 685-5376

History buffs will want to pay a visit to Galleano. This property, located east of Los Angeles in Rancho Cucamonga, an area that was once the largest wine-growing region in the U.S., is essential to understanding the history of winemaking in Southern California. It is the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the region, dating back to when Domenico Galleano was making wine in his basement during Prohibition. Pop by their tasting room to sample their wines, all made from locally-grown Zinfandel, Grenache, Alicante Bouchet, and more. If you’re lucky, you will run into Domenico’s great grandson Don, who will more than likely tell you some amazing stories about the property’s rich history.

If you love bubbles

Carter Estate Winery
Photo courtesy of Carter Estate Winery

Carter Estate Winery

34450 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA 92591, (888) 364-5709

Sparkling wine fans, Carter Estate Winery is for you. Award-winning winemakers Jon McPherson and Javier Flores have shown the immense potential of classic method (e.g. how Champagne is made) sparkling wines made with grapes from Temecula Valley. The tasting room is adjacent to the production facility and separated only by a glass wall, so you can see the entire process in action while you sip their selection of premium sparkling and still wines made from local grapes.

If you love motorcycles

Doffo Wines
Photo courtesy of Doffo Wines

Doffo Wines

36083 Summitville Street, Temecula, CA 92592, (951) 676-6989

Anyone with a thing for motorcycles will want to pop into Doffo Wines, a family-owned and operated boutique winery in Temecula Valley. Not only can you taste exquisite small production wines made from Viognier, Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah, and proprietary blends while learning about the family’s commitment to quality farming, you can also tour their on-site collection of vintage motorcycles. Winemaker Damian Doffo has even created a line of “MotoDoffo” wines, each featuring original artwork commissioned from some of the motorcycling world’s most renowned artists.

If you love a good wine cave

Oak Mountain
Photo courtesy of Oak Mountain

Oak Mountain

36522 Via Verde, Temecula, CA 92592, (951) 699-9102

There’s something especially romantic about sipping in a wine cave. If you’re up for this unique experience, head to the elaborate, underground tasting room at Oak Mountain in Temecula. As Southern California’s sole subterranean mined wine cave, you can enjoy their Mediterranean-style wines and artisan charcuterie boards in the naturally climate-controlled environment. You’ll find interesting varietals, from Mourvedre to Pinotage, alongside classics like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. What’s more, this impressive wine cave even has a Cave Cafe and a Distillery, all hidden below Oak Mountains vineyards!

If you love to eat while you wine

Robert Renzoni | Justin Hulse Photography
Photo courtesy of Robert Renzoni | Justin Hulse Photography

Robert Renzoni Vineyards

37350 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA 92592, (951) 302-8466

If all that tasting is working up an appetite, snag a table at Mama Rosa’s Trattoria at Robert Renzoni Vineyards in Temecula Valley. Sip the winery’s expertly-crafted wines, made primarily from the Italian varieties that grow so well in the region, while you nosh on some of the tastiest pizzas, pasta, salads, and sandwiches available outside of Italy. Grapes like Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese sing in the hands of winemaker Olivia Bue and are a natural pairing for the food…not to mention the Tuscan-like views from the winery’s patio.

If you love to picnic among the vines

Orfila Vineyards and Winery
Orfila Vineyards in Escondido
Orfila Vineyards
Photos courtesy of Orfila Vineyards

Orfila Vineyards and Winery

13455 San Pasqual Rd, Escondido, CA 92025, (760) 738-6500

For a lovely Wine Country picnic setting, pack up some provisions and head to Orfila Vineyards and Winery in Escondido. This 70-acre estate located in the San Pasqual Valley on a 10,000-acre agricultural preserve features gorgeous grounds, a rose garden and grape arbor, and plenty of shaded tables to sip wine while picnicking and taking in San Diego’s idyllic year-round weather. The estate is only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 500 feet, which equates to cool ocean breezes and morning fogs that create optimal grape growing conditions. The result is a portfolio of wines made from estate and local grapes that have garnered over 1,000 domestic and international awards. Orfila also has a tasting room in Oceanside, if the beach vibe is more your speed.

If you love the city life

Charlie & Echo | Riley Yahr Photography
Photo courtesy of Charlie & Echo | Riley Yahr Photography

Charlie & Echo

8680 Miralani Drive, #125, San Diego, CA 92126, 877-592-9095

City dwellers, be sure to check out one of San Diego’s coolest urban wineries, located in the Miralani Makers’ District. Charlie & Echo pride themselves on producing ultra low-intervention, natural wines made from locally sourced grapes. They specialize in craft sparkling wines that are intended to be a palate-opening departure from the Champagnes and Proseccos we are used to. A true urban winery, they encourage guests to bring in food and snacks from other businesses on site, not to mention their kids and dogs. The winery is also a member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of all sales back to environmental non-profits.