5 California Wineries With Unique Stories to Tell Each bottle of wine is a story ready to be consumed. Visit these places to get a peak at the "writer's room." BY TOURING & TASTING
Photo courtesy of Andis Wines
A couple enjoys a bottle of wine at Andis Wines.
“ The winery immediately became renowned for Chardonnay when its inaugural 1977 vintage was called 'The best Chardonnay in the world,' beating 221 top Chardonnays in a blind tasting.”
There are so many reasons why guests visit various wineries and tasting rooms across the country. Sometimes it's convenience, sometimes it's reputation, sometimes it's for adventure. Whatever the reason these five California wineries each offer their own unique reason ready for your exploration, from architecture to wine history and culture.
Oak Farm Vineyards
At the end of a quiet country road, just south of the Mokelumne River in northwest Lodi, Oak Farm Vineyards offers visitors an unrivaled wine tasting destination. The historic 70-acre estate, replete with lush grapevines, majestic century-old oaks, and a plantation-style mansion and barn dating back to 1863, dedicates ten acres to its guests’ enjoyment.
Oak Farm’s sophisticated winery and tasting facility provide guests a truly elevated tasting experience, with a spacious tasting bar, floor-to-ceiling windows offering vineyard views, a private room for wine club members, four indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and an inviting covered outdoor terrace.
Oak Farm Vineyards specializes in handcrafted small lot and single vineyard varietals that truly express their terroir. All of the grapes used to make Oak Farm Vineyards wines come from the estate vineyard or other family-owned vineyards nearby. The well-balanced, food friendly wines, skillfully crafted by Winemaker Chad Joseph, are structured yet supple: never over-oaked or overworked. The wines repeatedly earn high acclaim. At the 2015 Winemaker’s Challenge International Wine Competition, the 2014 Albariño was awarded 94 points and named the Platinum/Best and the 2012 Zinfandel was awarded 93 points.
With a passion for Rhône varietals and the word “acquiesce” as her mantra, Winemaker Susan Tipton lovingly crafts a stellar lineup of unique Rhône-style white wines including Picpoul Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Belle Blanc, and Grenache Rosé. The wines, styled to be pure and food friendly, are bottled in graceful French wine bottles befitting their contents.
Forty years ago, on May 24, 1976, Steven Spurrier, a British expatriate operating a wine school and store in Paris, invited a panel of eminent French judges to swirl, sniff, and sip, and when their scores were tallied, the judges were shocked: the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, came out on top.
Time magazine writer George Taber was the only journalist present, and his brief article about The Paris Tasting generated a flood of publicity. Newspapers around the country picked up the story, and consumers flocked to purchase the winning wines. In 2005, Taber wrote a best-selling book about the tasting and its effects called "Judgment of Paris."
The results stunned the international wine establishment and cemented Mike’s reputation as one of the world’s top winemakers. After his victory in Paris, Mike joined with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they broke ground to build what is now Grgich Hills Estate. The winery immediately became renowned for Chardonnay when its inaugural 1977 vintage was called “The best Chardonnay in the world,” beating 221 top Chardonnays in a blind tasting organized by the Chicago Tribune.
1829 St. Helena Hwy, PO Box 450
Rutherford, CA 94573
When Tony and Herta (H.B.) purchased their 30-acre Rutherford property in 1982, the vineyard grounds were wild and overgrown. Through passion and hard work, the Peju family has transformed their Rutherford Estate into Peju—a wine, architecture, and art lover’s paradise.
Today, 34 years later, Peju remains a family-owned and family-run estate winery with the next generation of the family, daughters Lisa and Ariana, taking over the day-to-day operations and leading the winery into the future.
Peju is a certified Bay Area Green Business; its Rutherford Estate also holds the distinction of being one of only 21 certified organic wineries in the Napa Valley. From the earliest days, the Peju family has had a deep connection with the land and has been committed to sustainable farming practices at all of its vineyard properties to ensure the land that produces award-winning wines will be preserved for future generations.
Situated in the famed Rutherford appellation, known for its legendary Cabernet Sauvignon, Peju produces stellar varietals, including its flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and proprietary blends, including a red and a white Cuvée Provence.
8466 St. Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
The stunning, fresh architecture of Andis Wines, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, was designed as homage to the beauty of modern winemaking and the joys of gracious hospitality. The winery building is crafted from environmentally responsible materials and features massive canopies, spacious lawn and picnic areas, and stunning views. Guests often stop near the tasting room entrance to admire the Barrel Stave Wall, engraved with the names of many wine club members. This fascinating wall, fabricated from old barrel staves, not only beautifully accents the building’s architecture but also serves to shade the north side of the building, keeping the winery cool all day.
By erecting the facility in a deeply mindful manner, the winery has exceeded California’s stringent Title 24 Energy Compliance requirements by more than 15 percent. This dedication to the environment is central to every aspect of the winery’s winemaking and viticulture practices and also includes newly installed Tesla and EV charging stations. The 20-acre estate vineyard, originally planted to Zinfandel, has been partially replanted to include blocks of Grenache, Barbera, Malbec, Schioppettino, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, and Syrah. In addition, Andis crafts wines from other select regional vineyards.
11000 Shenandoah Road
Plymouth, CA 95669