"Wine Down" with a Wine-Centric Weekend in Contra Costa County
Each weekend ushers in new opportunities to explore and appreciate the incredible wealth of industry, culture, and nature we are lucky to have here.
That includes the delights of our very own wine country. Located just 29 miles east of San Francisco, Contra Costa County boasts a burgeoning wine scene, with more than two dozen wineries and tasting rooms in and around the Concord area. We’ve curated some local favorites paired with food and weekend adventure. Use these suggestions, along with our downloadable Contra Costa County Wine Tasting Map to plan a wine-centric weekend that will take you from the close of business on Friday to a well-deserved Sunday afternoon snooze.
Cheers to Friday Night
Put your wine-centric weekend on track with a carefree night on the town enjoying your favorite glass of red, white, or rose.
At Concord’s Veranda outdoor shopping area Residual Sugar brings together one-of-a-kind varietals from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria, and beyond. With a location in downtown Walnut Creek as well, it features over 30 wines available by the glass and a variety of cheeses and charcuterie. The outdoor firepits at the Veranda make this an especially pleasant spot to unwind after a long week. 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. Further east in Contra Costa County is Brentwood’s Vine & Grain located in The Streets of Brentwood. 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.
Happy Trails Saturday
Saturday is the perfect day to experience the region’s stunning landscape with a vigorous hike, followed by local wine tasting. Choose from one of these trail and vine pairings to fill up your first full weekend day.
Mount Diablo and Shadowbrook Winery – Walnut Creek
The grandaddy of outdoor adventure in Contra Costa County is Mount Diablo State Park, the third highest peak in the San Francisco Bay Area. While there are countless amazing treks within Mount Diablo State Park, the 6.2-mile Grand Mountain Loop Trail is the definitive Mount Diablo experience. Starting and ending at the Juniper Campground, this connection of trails circumvents the summit along varied and steep terrain with stunning vistas on every side. Half a mile from the foot of Mount Diablo’s North Gate entrance is one of the area’s finest wineries, Shadowbrook. With a state-of-the-art tasting room, sprawling vineyards, and Mount Diablo as a backdrop, the ambiance here is unparalleled. Make reservations in advance for a traditional tasting or opt for a more intimate wine experience in one of Shadowbrook’s lovely sitting areas.
Mount Wanda/John Muir Nature Trail and Viano Vineyards – Martinez
It’s hard to imagine tranquil, natural beauty being so close to a busy freeway. But that is exactly what you will find at the intersection of Highway 4, Alhambra Avenue, and Franklin Canyon Road, where the trailhead for Mount Wanda and Muir Farm begins. As you ascend the Mt. Wanda nature trail loop at the John Muir National Historic Site, you are quickly transported to a landscape of rolling hills that once encompassed private ranches and is now protected by the John Muir Land Trust. The 2.9-mile trail offers sweeping views of the Bay, Mount Diablo, the Carquinez Strait, and even Mount Tamalpais in Marin.
Ten minutes away from the trailhead is Viano Vineyards, founded in 1920 by the Viano family, originally from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and now with its 4th and 5th generations in Martinez.Guests here have the opportunity to taste and purchase a wide array of excellent, well-priced wines – from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and French Columbard, to Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Sangiovese – while enjoying Viano’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Black Diamond Mines and Hannah Nicole Winery – Antioch and Brentwood
On the Eastern edge of Contra Costa County, in the town of Antioch, is Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, where hiking and history unite. The preserve contains relics of three long-gone mining towns, former coal mines from the 1800s, and sandstone mines that once supplied Oakland’s Hazel-Atlas Glass Company from the 1920s until the mid-1940’s.
You can take a guided tour to learn about the area’s history and geology and/or hike one of the many trails that crisscross the open hills. The Old Homestead Loop trail features lovely views, some steep terrain, and a burst of wildflowers in the spring, but there are countless other hiking options of varying lengths.
After a morning at the mines, head to Antioch’s Hannah Nicole Winery, which is about 12 miles away. The grapes on its 54 acres are sustainably farmed and planted with all red Bourdeaux varietals, Grenach, and Mourvedre, as well as some new World Petite Syrah and renowned Sauvignon Blanc and Viogner white varietals.
Winery hours are Sunday to Thursday, Noon to 5pm and Friday and Saturday Noon to 8pm, no reservations required.
A Sunday to Savor
After a hard but invigorating day of hiking on Saturday, what better way to wind down the weekend than with a relaxing, mouthwatering brunch, followed by a third and final wine adventure.
Vic’s and William Welch Wines – Martinez
You’ll find one of the best brunches in Contra Costa County in Martinez, at the family-run Vic’s, which also serves lunch and dinner. The atmosphere here is rooted in traditional hospitality, and the food is on-trend and sure to please everyone. A special brunch menu is available from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays and can be enjoyed on their large outdoor patio. Less than three miles and a 10-minute drive away is another family-run business, William Welch Wines, on Ranchos Las Juntas. With a similar climate to Napa Valley, this winery enjoys warm days and cooling breezes off the Carquinez Straits at night. Using the dry farming method due to limited water, the vineyard produces two traditional California grapes, Petite Syrah and Zinfandel. They are open only on Sundays from 2 to 4pm for sampling in their adobe tasting room, but you can call and make an appointment for groups of 10 or more.
(Note: William Welch Wines is less than a mile from the John Muir Nature Trail mentioned in the previous section, so you could pair that hike with this winery as long as it’s on a Sunday.)
Canyon Club and Captain Vineyards – Moraga
On the other side of the county, near Oakland and on the border with Alameda County, you’ll find rolling hills, steep canyons, and slightly cooler weather due to more fog, especially in the mornings and evenings.
The aptly named 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 wine, hard cider, and kambooza.
Their brunch menu features a wide selection of comfort foods that will appeal to both the breakfast and lunch crowd and is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm.
Stomach full, head down St. Mary’s Road toward Captain Vineyards, only two and a half miles and a six-minute drive away. You’ll want to plan in advance as this small-batch winery, run by a lovely couple dedicated to producing the highest quality wines using the most sustainable, water-saving practices, is by appointment only.
All grapes are grown, crushed, pressed, and bottled on-site. They have a lovely patio built into their backyard hillside overlooking the canyon where visitors enjoy a plate of artisanal cheeses and homemade breads while tasting their red wines – sold only at the property or online by word-of-mouth.
The Dead Fish and Four Fools Winery – Crockett and Rodeo
As its name suggests, The Dead Fish is THE place to go for seafood. The owner’s inspiration is his “little Italian grandmother”, or nonna, who had a knack for magically transforming any “catch of the day” into an amazing meal.
With its homestyle offerings and outstanding views of the Carquinez Bridge and Strait, the Dead Fish has become something of an institution, so it’s best to make reservations whenever you go.
Brunch is served on Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays from Noon to 3pm with a price-fixed menu that includes different options of eggs, omelettes (or “momelettes” as they are called here), and pancakes.
From the Dead Fish, three miles along San Pablo Avenue, you’ll come to the town of Rodeo, where Four Fools Winery is located.
Founded by four long-time friends with an interest in drinking, judging, and comparing wines, Four Fools offers a lovely setting and alternative vibe at its urban tasting room on the San Pablo Bay waterfront.
With their eight varietals bottled with playful labels evocative of the name, this is the perfect spot for groups of friends or couples to unwind and have fun.
Written by Karen Bakar for Visit Concord
Explore the wines near and far during your stay in Concord. Whether you're sticking close to home or venturing out through Contra Costa County, we have the perfect path for you to follow.