Best Local Wines To Try That Aren’t From Napa

May 1, 2014 5:00 AM

Wine Glass (credit: REMY GABALDA/AFP/GettyImages)

153897602 Best Local Wines To Try That Arent From Napa(credit: REMY GABALDA/AFP/GettyImages)

If making a trip out to Napa does not fit within your budget or timeframe, or if you just want to experience a fine local wine lickity split, there are many favored places to try here in the Bay Area. Grab your bike, get in your car or jaunt over to the following vineyards, considered favorites by many wine enthusiasts. These establishments have built a name for themselves as growers of the finest, smoothest, sometimes fruitiest, bold, most flavorful and highest quality wines around town.

South Bay 
Ridge Vineyards
17100 Montebello Road
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 867-3233

Nominated for ‘Best San Francisco Winery’ by San Francisco Bay Area A-List, this vineyard’s roots date back to 1885, when an Italian doctor by the name of Osea Perrone decided to buy 180 acres on top of Monte Bello Ridge. From these vines today grow the finest grapes in San Francisco. The 2010 Monte Bello Cabernet, made up of 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Merlot, 4 percent Petit Verdot and 2 percent Cabernet Franc is now one of California’s finest wines. This wine has been awarded 97+ points by Antonio Galloni, and awarded “Year’s Best Cabernets & Blends” by Wine & Spirits.

Livermore Valley
Fenestra Winery
83 Vallecitos Road
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 447-5246

From its humble beginnings in 1976, Fenestra Winery has been making medal-winning wines in the Livermore Valley for nearly 40 years. As recently as 2013, Fenestra won GOLD at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition for its 2009 Fenestra Malbec. This Livermore Valley Malbec is an elegant blend of black cherry, Marion berry, rose petal and plum. It also has flavors of blueberry, clove, blackberry and allspice. It currently sells for $32. View the winery’s extensive list of award-winning wines. The winery introduces different flights for tasting in the tasting room.

Sonoma County
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery
8761 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-6700

Producing some of the best Chardonnays in the state, and boasting one of the most stunningly beautiful and pristine lots to view beautiful Lake Sonoma, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards is most known for its white wines. This winery sources its grape varieties from regions in Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley and Mendocino Ridge regions. One wine that stands out is the 2010 Sky High Pinot Noir (Mendocino Ridge) for its aromas and flavors. Full and delicious, flavors such as boysenberry, black cherry compote, pie crust, fresh herb and toast, cocoa and vanilla stand out with this wine. For wine tasting information, visit:, and to view a list of F-C events, visit

East Bay 
Elliston Vineyards
463 Kilkare Road
Sunol, CA 94586
(925) 862-2377

This East Bay vineyard makes a variety of acclaimed, aged wines. Some of these select wines include 2001 Danse de Blanc Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris or a vintage 2000 Merlot. Built in 1890, the exquisite mansion offers complimentary tastings and self-guided tours of the mansion and beautiful gardens. The vineyard is located in Sunol, which is part of Alameda County, close to Pleasanton and Dublin.

Stage Left Cellars
2102 Dennison St.
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 434-9930

This low-yielding, sustainable, boutique vineyard produces Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Viognier and the winery’s favorite, Roussanne. These wines are made using old-school techniques. With grapes grown from Santa Ynez to Russian River to Napa to Paso Robles and the Rogue Valley, the wines made here are made with tender loving care. The owner takes pride in the craft, as you will be able to tell from your first taste of one of the signature blends. The fruit is hand sorted, so only the best will become part of the final product. Stage Left makes wine the way wine used to be made, before mass production came into play. With foot-stomping, cold-soaking and avoiding non-sustainable filtration and fining, the hard work shows in its perfect, small batch wines.

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at

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