It’s wine time! But that’s nothing new, as wine has been commonplace in culture for thousands of years. Its impact can be seen in historical works of art and even religious books. Maybe the most famous example is in The Holy Bible with its description of Jesus miraculously turning water into wine. Wine is even still used today in the Catholic religion as a substitute for the blood of Christ. But wine is wildly popular in all aspects of life, not just in history and religious ceremonies and visiting some of the best wineries in the U.S. gives you a “taste” of the country’s superb local blends.
According to a OnePoll survey, seven in 10 consume wine more than any other type of alcohol during the holidays. In day-to-day life, three-fifths of respondents drink wine at least three times a week — most commonly at dinner. Plus, more than a quarter usually enjoy wine with breakfast or brunch. And forget wine etiquette if you’re in America. Ten percent of Americans admit to drinking wine from a coffee mug and 42 percent fill their glass (or mug) all the way to the top. Cheers!
Do you consider wine more of a treat? A survey for JaM Cellars, the makers of Butter Chardonnay, revealed the average respondent treats themselves about six times per month with something enjoyable (32 percent), high quality (27 percent) or fun (24 percent). The average respondent said a treat usually costs about $83 USD; however, 74 percent agreed that a higher price tag doesn’t always mean it’s better. Wines that are full of flavor, high quality and/or affordable may just make any day feel like a treat day.
Taking a trip to a winery is another way to treat yourself! From vine to vino, you’ll get to explore the production process and taste unique wines that you can’t always find in stores or on menus. Thankfully, you can find wineries located in every corner of the country, and there is no shortage of vineyards to visit. If you’re wanting to go to the best wineries in the U.S., this list has a handful of options that experts recommend most often. Let us know in the comments below if we missed one!
The List: Best Wineries in the U.S., According to Experts
1. Tank Garage Winery in Calistoga, California
Tank Garage Winery is extremely unique, as it’s located in a historic gas station. The pump isn’t flowing gasoline anymore though. This location is all about small-batch wines.
The Manual writes, “Since 2014, Tank Garage has been almost single handedly defining hip wine. Imagine a producer where the coolest music is always playing in the cellar and the labels are pieces of art in their own right. Oh, and the wine is delicious and inventive, ranging from daring white blends to carbonic maceration Pinotage. You’ll go for the eye-candy (including an actual vintage gas-station-turned-tasting-room) and stay to savor every single sip.”
And Tasting Table also says it’s worth a visit: “If a vintage gas station and garage-style winery sounds intriguing to you, then head on over to Calistoga, California and visit Tank Garage Winery. It’s as cool as it sounds, is housed in a gas station from the 1930s, and the wines get two thumbs up from us. You’ll also feel super-exclusive sipping Tank Garage’s wines, as none of them are served in restaurants or sold in stores. Fuel up with Tank Garage’s lubrication tasting for $30 per person.”
Binwise says the location can’t be beat: “Tank Garage Winery in Calistoga, CA, is top spot on this list for [its] extremely unique location. This one-of-a-kind winery is located in an old-fashioned gas station and garage building. Yes, the wine is great, but the real draw is the atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else.”
2. Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley, California
Folktale Winery is absolutely stunning with its beautiful gardens and picturesque setting. Because of that, The Real World says it’s aptly named: “Step into a wine fairytale at Folktale Winery, set on a magical patch of land in sunny Carmel Valley. The scenery is gorgeous, the buildings are enchanting and their wines are full of imagination. Their famous Chardonnay has notes of soft melon, apple, lemon, apricot and kiwifruit. If you’re looking for something a little richer, try the Pinot Noir. With notes of violet, rose, chocolate and spice, it’s been likened to a decadent red velvet cake.”
“You will find Folktale Winery in the beautiful Carmel Valley in Central California. A group of creatives, artists, and lovers of wine created this winery in 2015. The concept inspires the winery and the wine has a story to tell. Each bottle has its history, the weather that grew the wine, and the winemaking craftsmanship. This story extends to when you share a bottle of Folktale wine with a friend. Folktale wants to be a part of that story. The Folktale tasting room is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and they offer wine tastings for $25 per person,” Restaurant Clicks says.
Visit California thinks it’s a must-visit winery: “In a valley only five miles from the Pacific Ocean, Folktale Winery lives up to its name: The Old World French-style château appears like a castle from childhood fables amid the vineyards and oak trees. On arrival, visitors are greeted with a taste of sparkling brut. Like many winemakers in the area, Folktale focuses on chardonnay and pinot noir. Save room to sample wine ice cream pops, made of rosé or grenache.”
3. Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley, California
Duckhorn Vineyards is known for its exceptional Bordeaux-style wines and commitment to quality and sustainability.
Men’s Journal says this vineyard has crafted an award-winning wine: “Oenophiles must visit Duckhorn Vineyards, whose Merlot Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard 2014 was named the top wine (out of more than 16,000) in 2017 by Wine Spectator. Located along the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, the vineyard’s airy estate house offers stunning vineyard views from the wrap-around veranda. Tastings start at $40 (reservations required).”
“Producing a wine that was awarded Wine Spectator’s best wine of the year in 2017 is an incredible achievement. One that becomes all the more impressive when that wine is only the second ever merlot to win it. Yet, those who know Duckhorn Vineyards will not be surprised, as such is the reputation of this eminent Napa Valley winery. Since the winery’s founding in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has prioritized merlot,” The Daily Meal writes.
“Duckhorn Vineyards is one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to its of Sauvignon Blanc, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues today. Located in beautiful St. Helena, CA, the traditionally designed Estate House and Tasting Room is a stunning wine country setting. Visitors can taste the award-winning Napa Valley wines, stroll the beautiful gardens and enjoy the vineyard view from the wrap-around veranda,” according to the Wine International Association.
4. Bear Creek Winery & Lodging in Homer, Alaska
Bear Creek Winery & Lodging is a hidden gem, known for producing flavorful fruit wines made from local berries and fruits. It also offers cozy lodging options!
VacationIdea recommends you visit this Alaska winery: “Producing wine in Alaska might seem like no easy task, but for people who love their product as much as Bill and Dorothy Fry, it’s a no brainer. Since the 1990s, Bear Creek Winery and Lodging has been experimenting with fruit and taste to make some of the most innovative fruit wines on the market. Everything from rhubarb to blueberries to kiwi has been used to make wine at Bear Creek, and with the hearty support of other Alaska locals, they have grown into a local institution.”
“If you make the trek to Alaska, be sure to visit Bear Creek Winery. This gem of a winery emphasizes unique fruity flavors in its wine blends, with fresh fruit sourced from a network of Alaskan farmers. Visitors can choose among 15 wines to taste, offered in a range of flavors and bodies to suit just about any wine drinker’s preferences,” Mashed says.
Only In Your State raves about this winery: “Although Alaska isn’t exactly a wine-country mecca, we do have one of the most special and unique wineries in the entire world. Serving award-winning wines in combination with offering luxurious high-end lodging makes this gem of a winery a true hidden treasure. With a passion for delivering unconditional Alaskan hospitality and uncompromised products, it’s no wonder that Bear Creek Winery is taking the Alaska wine country movement by a storm.”
5. Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley, California
Chateau Montelena is a historic winery located in the heart of wine country. ShermansTravel talks about the beauty you’ll find here: “You can’t talk about wine in the United States without Napa Valley. One of the region’s most beautiful — and infamous — is Chateau Montelena, best known for winning the 1976 Judgement of Paris. During the blind taste test by top French chefs, the California reds and whites historically beat out their French counterparts. Visitors can try their wines in a castle-like tasting room, explore Chinese gardens, and the valley around Mount St. Helena.”
“With 14 decades of experience, Chateau Montelena Winery has mastered its craft. It is one of the oldest Napa Valley wineries and a local favorite. Their uniqueness is capturing unique flavors each season instead of cultivating a single flavor. Located high above neighboring Napa Valley residencies, Chateau Montelena is open from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily with an appointment only,” Travel Lemming says.
Napa Wine Tours thinks it’s a fun afternoon outing, and it even offers a bit of a history lesson: “Visit the tasting room at Chateau Montelena, known for its beauty and distinguished wines. Learn about the history of the Estate and the role it played in shaping the Valley’s history. A few of their wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah.”
If you can’t make it to a winery soon, check out our lists with expert recommendations for the best white wines under $20 and best red wines under $20.
You might also be interested in:
- The Manual
- Tasting Table
- The Real World
- Restaurant Clicks
- Visit California
- Men’s Journal
- The Daily Meal
- Wine International Association
- Only In Your State
- Travel Lemming
- Napa Wine Tours
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
Wow, knock me over with a feather!! 4 of the “Top” wineries are in cali, and the 5th gets most of its juice from cali!??!
Way to ignore the rest of the country… that, by the way, doesn’t make the same tasting wine like every cali winery does!!
California always has the highest rated wines. Fact.
California & US Wine Production.
Year California* U.S.*
2019 704,578,616 795,438,315
2018 720,544,929 814,790,301
2017 736,687,449 836,348,470
2016 711,518,688 794,952,042
This is why because most of the wine in the US comes from guess where.
The picture of Duckhorn is misidentified as Buckhorn.
Sorry that you didn’t list ANY other than 1 outside of California…..very biased opinions!! You should look into the Finger Lakes in NY, for whites & Riesling!! It has some of the BEST Riesling in the world, some even better than the Rhine River. ALSO, what about North Fork Long Island…. for RED…?? Some are comparable to Bordeaux, due the the ocean climate. A few years ago, the top 10 list came out for Best winery areas…..and the Finger lakes took #1. Look into it
That was the most pitiful list I have ever seen.
If that is the wineries you have experienced you should start drinking beer!
I am going to assume you were sponsored by these wineries.
Chateau is a great winery, but the top five in the country.
Is that the country in your backyard.
Here venture to these countries!
Or just strain some box wine an aerator and call it good!
California typically has the beer wines in the country. That’s why.
Wine is not a substitute for the Blood of Christ in Catholicism. That’s the basic Protestant position. In Catholicism the wine becomes the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Experts? Men’s Journal? A wasted click…
The issue here is not the story but the headline. Obviously these are not the 5 best wineries in the United States. They are 5 interesting wineries that have some unique characteristics that made them stand out to the author. There is no panel of experts involved. If there had been, their identities and qualifications would have been listed and there likely would have been far more than 5 mentioned. Stop taking these “best of” articles so seriously and enjoy them for what they are. If you are in the area, maybe stop by one of these places and enjoy their product. Likely won’t be the best wine you taste in your life, but will probably be a pleasant way to spend an hour.
How could Far Niente not be on the list?
The Catholic church does not use wine as a substitute. In every Mass since the time of Christ, wine is turned into the blood of Christ in the miracle of transubstantiation.
Just visited Folktale in Carmel. Definitely special, and not an unpleasant wine in either flights we tasted. Tastings are $40 or $50 (all reds), not $25 as article states.