{"api":{"host":"https:\/\/pinot.decanter.com","authorization":"Bearer YjE4ZDhjNDc2ZjY2ZDMzODc0MTM3ZGZkMzAyZGE4MzFkZTQ0NWMzOWZmZmQzMzcxMzQxZWRjMDU5MzlkOWY4Yg","version":"2.0"},"piano":{"sandbox":"false","aid":"6qv8OniKQO","rid":"RJXC8OC","offerId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","offerTemplateId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","wcTemplateId":"OTOW5EUWVZ4B"}}

Ultimate California wine road trip

Drive from Los Angeles up Highway 101 and arrive in Anderson Valley in northern California, exploring the wealth of wineries on the way...

California wine road trip from Los Angeles to Anderson Valley, via San Francisco

Don’t drink and drive – obviously.

Los Angeles

California wine road trip, beverly hills

Start in LA and explore the range of great wine bars, with our recommendations from Ray Isle – one for every kind of wine lover, whether it’s small plates and quirky wines you’re after, or great prices on cellared wines.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara travel guide

Take Highway 101 from Los Angeles and drive about 1 hour 30 minutes up to Santa Barbara to start exploring wine country. Katie Kelly Bell calls Santa Barbara a ‘wine adventurer’s paradise’, with the range of soils, sunlights and experimentation happening.

While you’re there, make sure to visit the popular Hitching Post II, from Sideways movie fame, for the ‘steaks, Pinot Noir and excellent service’, says Anthony Rose.

Paso Robles

Paso Robles, Los Robles Cafe

Los Robles Cafe

Drive another two hours up to Paso Robles and explore the exciting food and wine scene.

Jason Haas, from Tablas Creek Vineyard, says it ‘is now home to a remarkable collection of restaurants, hotels and shops’ – a change he attributes to the significant growth in the local wine community; Paso Robles now has around 260 wineries, up from just 17 in 1989.

San Francisco

california wine road trip golden-gate

Golden Gate Bridge

The longest leg of your wine road trip is taking the 101 up to San Francisco for about 4 hours. Take the time to explore the great variety of restaurants and wine bars, with a wide range of cultures and cuisines.

As sommelier and boutique wine producer, Rajat Paar says, ‘Wine culture is so pervasive here that many of those restaurants have no problem letting you bring your own bottle.’

Napa and Sonoma

Five Sonoma AVAs to know

West Sonoma Coast. Credit: Red Car Wine

From San Francisco it’s not far to the well-known California Wine Country areas, including Napa Valley, Sonoma and Santa Cruz.

Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley

Visit Chateau Montelena and feel the history of the 1976 Judgement of Paris in its 40th anniversary year.

Make sure you head to at least one of these top Napa wineries to visit; you can see most by driving up the Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail.

napa valley restaurants, cadet

Then we’ve got your dining covered with some of the best restaurants in Napa and in great places to eat and drink in Sonoma County.

Anderson Valley

Anderson Valley travel guide

Finish your trip with a few off-the-beaten-track places, as it’s just another two hours drive up to Anderson Valley – where you can find hearty dining and excellent Pinot Noir, says Stephen Brook.

Take the opportunity to buy your wines directly from the tasting rooms when you visit.

More California wine:

Latest Wine News