As balmy weather and lengthening days signal the arrival of spring, it’s time to think about travel, adventure—and rosé. William Kelley picks his top 10 California rosé wines...

Always fun and sometimes frivolous, rosé is seldom taken too seriously, but the genre is one of California wine’s most dynamic, attracting increasing numbers of talented winemakers.

Whereas consumers have certain expectations of a California Cabernet, rosé offers more freedom to experiment with out-of-the-way vineyards, eclectic grape varieties and novel winemaking techniques: the necessity is not so much to ‘impress’ as to refresh. That makes rosé appealing to up-and-coming young winemakers and well-established stalwarts alike.

Rosé has also attracted the attention of California’s new generation of sparkling wine pioneers. Inspired by the grower champagne movement and emulating its emphasis on single-vineyard, terroir-driven bottlings made on an artisanal scale, the early results already presage an exciting renaissance in North American sparkling wine.

The result is a burgeoning range of rosés that are versatile at the table, full of character and deliciously quaffable. Their usually modest pricing belies their quality. And take note: if the best metric of a winemaker’s talent is found in their humblest wine, some of these less heard-of producers seem destined for future stardom.

California rosé: 10 top wines

County Line Vineyards, Rosé 2015

County Line Vineyards, Rosé 2015

County Line is the second label for Eric Sussman, the talented proprietor-winemaker of Radio-Coteau, established specifically to make this rosé.

Points 91
Arnot Roberts, Rosé 2015

Arnot-Roberts, Rosé 2015

By now Arnot-Roberts need no introduction, and their Touriga Nacional rosé is already fought-over.

Points 91
Belharra, Rosé of Syrah 2015

Belharra, Rosé of Syrah 2015

Anne Fogarty and Camille Gaio craft both a red and a rosé from the Las Madres vineyard in cool Carneros

Points 91
Kutch, Pinot Noir Rosé 2015

Kutch, Pinot Noir Rosé 2015

This delicate pink wine, Jamie Kutch's most gulpable bottling, nods to Sancerre with its expressive nose of tart raspberry...

Points 91
Cenyth, Rosé 2015

Cenyth, Rosé 2015

Hélène Seillan, the daughter of Verité's Bordeaux-trained winemaker Pierre Seillan, works alongside her father

Points 90
Matthiasson, Rosé 2015

Matthiasson, Rosé 2015

Aromas of ripe Meyer lemon, fresh herbs and hints of the marine preface a supple, juicy and refreshing wine...

Points 89

  • Brian St. Pierre

    All lovely, surely. . . The Heitz Grignolino is a treasure of long standing. . . a shame they’re not available outside the United States.