September is California Wine Month, and we’re celebrating by putting together this ultimate wine lover’s guide for Concord and the surrounding area.
Concord and the surrounding Contra Costa County area are part of a burgeoning wine scene that has expanded far beyond the classic wine regions of Napa and Sonoma, with dozens of unique and outstanding wineries and tasting rooms right here in our region. Let’s raise a glass to how many fantastic opportunities we have to sip and savor!
Here, we’ve curated some favorite vintners, vineyards and tasting spots that are beloved by both our local community and those visiting us from beyond. Use these suggestions, along with our downloadable Contra Costa County Wine Tasting Map, to find the best spots to celebrate this September. Also be sure to check out these other great California Wine Month resources from Visit California.
CENTRAL COUNTY: CONCORD / MARTINEZ / WALNUT CREEK
RESIDUAL SUGAR WINE BAR
Residual Sugar Wine Bar: Inspired by the name of the sugar that’s leftover from the wine fermentation process, Residual Sugar Wine Bar is certainly one of the sweetest stops on our list. This intimate, swanky wine bar has a bustling atmosphere and moody lighting that make it the perfect date night spot, especially if you cozy up to the fire pits. Or you can treat yourself to a pour after a day of shopping, because Residual Sugar is conveniently located in the lovely Veranda shopping center.
Best of all, Residual Sugar offers more than 30 wines by the glass and has one of the most extensive and eclectic wine lists in the East Bay. They bring in one-of-a-kind varietals from California, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria and beyond, as well as a great selection of cheeses and charcuterie. Do not miss the dessert menu either!
In fact, Residual Sugar has been such a hit in Concord that they now have a second location in Walnut Creek.
VIANO WINERY & VINEYARDS
Viano Winery & Vineyards: This family-run operation in Martinez has been making great wine for more than 100 years. The Viano family visited the region in the 1880s and found it reminded them of their home in Piedmont, Italy. Over five generations, they have even maintained some of the original vines, while also adding new flavors to keep up with modern tastes.
Viano wines are produced, bottled and marketed onsite to ensure quality and value. They also emphasize natural and traditional winemaking techniques like aging in small oak barrels. Varietals include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, French Columbard, Muscat Canelli, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel.
Visiting Viano and sipping their wines really feels like uncovering a hidden gem, and the welcoming family feel of the atmosphere makes you want to return time and again.
WILLIAM WELCH WINES
William Welch Wines: This family-owned venture produces award-winning wines from grapes grown at their Rancho Las Juntas estate in Martinez. Rancho Las Juntas has a rich and rustic history, and it’s now tended by Steve Welch, the third great grandson of pioneer William Welch, who was first granted the land in 1844. Sampling is available on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. at their charming adobe ranch tasting room, which is also available for private events.
Shadowbrook Winery: In Walnut Creek, Shadowbrook has a state-of-the-art tasting room that is the perfect place to sample wines from its collection, which have won more than 60 medals in competition. Reservations or event tickets are required to visit this incredible setting, and they are definitely worth it! A variety of special tasting programs are available, and visitors can also book tickets for wine-and-yoga days and other unique events.
WEST COUNTY: MORAGA / ORINDA / BRIONES / RODEO
Captain Vineyards: The Captain’s estate-grown, small-batch wines are made from red French varieties and aged in French oak barrels. They are sustainably grown, crushed, pressed and bottled onsite at their boutique vineyard and winery in Moraga.
We recommend checking out their Wine & Pairing Experience, which offers a vineyard and cellar tour highlighting their green farming practices, in addition to a sampling of wines, cheeses and snacks. They also offer educational visits, farm stays, harvest events and more at this charming family winery.
BALESTRIERI FAMILY FARM
Balestrieri Family Farm: This charming family-run farm is located in the hills of Briones. They grow grapes and olives onsite and produce their own wines. In addition to their own farm and tasting room, Balistrieri products are sold at local specialty stores and restaurants. Balestrieri has also started hosting a huge variety of fun events at the winery, including night vendor markets, creative workshops, yoga classes and more. Don’t miss the farm animals!
LES LUNES WINE
Les Lunes Wine: In Orinda is Les Lunes Wine, a smaller, naturally sustainable boutique vineyard. Their back-to-basics winemakers recently said, “Our vineyards are in a natural state, which means they might look a little shaggy, but there’s energy and vitality under the soils, and we have a model that can keep these hundred-year-old vineyards around for another generation.” Their style is working for them, as their unique, award-winning wines routinely sell out, although they can occasionally be found at area eateries, as well as purchased online.
FOUR FOOLS WINERY
Four Fools Winery: Located in Rodeo, Four Fools is a small-scale urban winery and tasting room, and as the name suggests, its vibe is lively and fun. Found in an old cattle and railroad town, their quirky location includes a large deck overlooking the San Pablo Bay with Mount Tamalpais in the distance and beautiful sunsets nightly.
They specialize in sweet and bubbly wines, and they draw crowds with their regular schedule of fun events, from Zumba to food truck nights to makers markets. Don’t miss Best Friend Friday, with trivia, board games and food and drink specials!
EAST COUNTY: BRENTWOOD
HANNAH NICOLE VINEYARDS
Hannah Nicole Vineyards: Hannah Nicole in Brentwood produces wines that are as sustainable as they are delicious. They believe good wine starts with quality fruit and a healthy vineyard, and it’s easy to see the love they pour into their 80-acre estate as soon as you visit the farm. Their concert series, karaoke nights, food truck days and other special events draw visitors from all over the Bay Area and beyond.
There are beautiful seating options both indoors and outdoors, and visitors can enjoy wines by the glass or flight, charcuterie boards and even luxury picnics. Ten different varietals are grown at the farm, mostly from the Bordeaux and Rhone regions of France. Try their Sauvignon Blanc for a light, refreshing treat.
Petersen Vineyards: Established in 2012, Petersen Vineyards introduced their now famous Diablo Sunset wine just two years later. They take pride in hard work and say the quality of their wine starts with their organic-certified grapes grown onsite in their vineyard.
Wines are available for purchase at regional restaurants and bars, as well as online, and the winery also has regular events such as tasting days and concerts. Or contact them for a private tasting!
MCCAULEY ESTATE VINEYARDS
McCauley Estate Vineyards: Enjoy once-a-month Sunday tasting events featuring wine, live music and taco trucks at this beautiful estate vineyard in Brentwood. Popular wines include their Mourvedre and Sauvignon Blanc. Further, the location – also a popular event venue – is simply stunning. Visitors can enjoy palatial grounds, manicured gardens, luxurious patios, a lagoon with fountains and more.
Bloomfield Vineyards: Bloomfield Vineyards in Brentwood has been producing award-winning wines since 2004 and believe their practice of terroir farming brings out the true characteristics of each varietal. And they should know: Their family has been farming in Contra Costa County since the 1940s.
Wines are handcrafted in small lots to ensure quality. You can find them to try at CoCo County Wine Company in downtown Brentwood, as well as area restaurants and bars. Female winemaker Becky Bloomfield is also an industry leader and acting president of the Contra Costa Winegrowers Association.
Nearby: The Lamorinda AVA
Head southwest just a few miles, and you’ll find yourself in a special wine region known as the Lamorinda American Viticultural Area. Designated as its own AVA in 2016, this region is named after the three cities in the area: Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. What makes this zone different? Its unique microclimate brings in cool maritime air to sunny, sandy hillsides that are rich with clay.
Less than 140 acres of this area are planted with vineyards, and steep hillsides must be manually farmed. The wineries that operate here are true micro-boutiques, and visiting them is an absolute delight. Here are a few highlights:
Deer Hill Vineyards: Deer Hill Vineyards planted over 20 years ago and have been refining their small-batch, sustainable winemaking process ever since. Their estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon is their specialty wine, but they’ve also been collecting awards for Sangiovese and lots of other varietals. Their charming home-vineyard has views of Mt. Diablo, a bocce ball court and pergola, and their tasting room bar is custom-painted with Tuscan murals by a local artist. Contact them for a visit, and keep an eye out for their wines around the region!
Los Arabis Vineyards: In 1999, Jim and Leslie Ward planted their 3-acre hillside with Pinot Noir vines not just because they thought it would be the ideal climate for the grapes, but also to cut the risk of wildfire on the previously grass-covered hill. They were right on both counts, and the Pinot Noir they’ve been producing ever since has been a major hit, selling online and in local stores and restaurants.
Meadow View Winery: Winemaker Bill English made his beloved hobby official in 2014, when he began selling licensed wine for the first time. His hyperlocal approach uses grapes from three different vineyards in the Lamorinda AVA, allowing him to produce a range of wines that truly embody the terroir. Meadow View tends to harvest grapes early to keep the alcohol level relatively low, preserving the flavors of the vineyard. They also enjoy experimenting with different blends and blending techniques. Meadow View wines are available for purchase at restaurants and stores in the local area, and you can contact Bill to set up a winery visit.
Bonus Sipping Spots You Should Try
Bar Cava in Martinez started out as a Spanish wine bar but has expanded to include varieties from around the world, along with craft cocktails and an inspiring menu of delicious meals. This restaurant-bar has an intimate family feel from the moment you walk in. With wine pairings, wine classes, and even a wine club, it’s clear they have a passion for grapes.
Brentwood’s Vine & Grain is located in The Streets shopping center. In the farm-to-fork tradition, Vine & Grain features rotating menus based on whatever is growing locally at the time. Its modern rustic décor, with outdoor patio and fire pits, is the perfect setting to enjoy their extensive list of more than 50 wines showcasing Northern California, as well as other parts of the world, including Argentina, France and Italy.
Canyon Club Brewery is a popular gathering spot in Moraga with expansive outdoor seating in a casual, festive setting. Technically a brewery, they also serve great wine, hard cider and kombucha.
LOOKING FOR MORE REGIONAL FUN?
Explore the wines near or far during your stay. Livermore Valley, Napa, Sonoma and San Joaquin County are all easy day trips from Concord. You can also learn more about California Wine Month here.
GET THE MAP!
For the full list of all 25 locations, get Visit Concord’s downloadable Wine Tasting map for Contra Costa County.