You’ll want to spend time in California, getting to know our wines. The best way to do that is to attend one of many wine festivals in California.
The best way to do that is to attend any of the many wine festivals celebrated here. It’ll allow you to taste the wines and chat with the winemakers. After all, what a fantastic way to experience the wine culture of this beautiful state!
From San Diego to Napa Valley, I’ve listed some of the best wine festivals in California. You and your friends can enjoy listening to live music, eating some of the best food, and sipping some of the finest wine.
The Top Wine Festivals in California
- Taste of Yountville
- BottleRock Napa Valley
- Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival
- Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend
- Hospice du Rhone Paso Robles
- San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting
- World of Pinot Noir
- Garagiste Wine Festival
- Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
- Lodi Grape Festival
1. Taste of Yountville
- Location: Yountville
- Date: March
- Tickets: $175.00
Over 50 restaurants, wineries, and musicians gather in one location to celebrate Napa Valley’s best wine and food.
Come for the celebrity chefs, sample bites, watch cooking demonstrations, sip wine from renowned producers and listen to live music.
Located in the heart of California’s best wine country, you savor some of the best wines with the musical performances by Grammy-nominated stars and up-and-coming artists.
The annual festival takes place in a town with the most Michelin stars in the region. The Taste of Yountville fulfills all of your senses.
2. BottleRock Napa Valley
- Location: Napa Valley Expo
- Date: May
- Tickets: Prices Vary
BottleRock Napa Valley is not for the faint heart, thanks to being, foremost, a music festival. Undisputedly, this often-sold-out festival happens in Napa Valley, so wine and food are also part of the venue.
Napa’s renowned restaurants will serve tasty fares for festival-goers with plenty of wine, beer, and spirits, keeping the party going into the night.
Get your tickets early because this Napa Valley music festival sells out fast. It’s worth it because you’ll have an incredible lineup of live music, mouthwatering food, and the finest wine filling your heart’s content.
3. Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival
- Location: The Gardens on El Paseo
- 73545 El Paseo, Palm Desert CA 92260
- Date: March
- Tickets: $125.00, $150.00 and $225.00
An annual gathering that just keeps getting better, the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival showcases cuisine from local chefs, premier wine, and craft beer.
It’s a gastronomic celebration, watching cooking demonstrations, sipping wines and beer, and tasting delectable food. Former top chefs who attended the festival are Carla Hall, Curtis Stone, and Elizabeth Falkner.
Some events at the festival are superb, such as James Beard Four-Course Luncheon and sampling over 60 wines or draught ciders, IPAs, and unique brews. Of course, there are Grand Tastings on Saturday.
Though the three-day festival will please your tastebuds, it’s not all about satisfying your senses. Proceeds will benefit local charities.
4. Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend
- Hosted by: Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
- Locations: Various locations in Paso Robles
- Date: March
- Tickets: $45.00 to $80.00
Pay homage to California’s heritage grape, the Zinfandel, with various experiences focusing on the wine grape. Complete with winemaker luncheon, seminar, and other poignant events at various wineries.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste a variety of Zinfandel wines and have a great time enjoying the weekend with those who appreciate the beloved grape.
5. Hospice du Rhone Paso Robles
- Location: Paso Robles Event Center
- 2198 Riverside Avenue Paso Robles, CA 93446
- Tickets: $100+ or $995 for a weekend pass
If you adore Rhone varietals or want to know more about them, then attend Hospice du Rhone Paso Robles. Here, you’ll meet 150 national and international Rhone producers, gathering in Paso for a weekend of wine tasting.
Anticipate several educational seminars led by winemakers, a wine-paired lunch, spirited dinners, and a live auction at this special biannual event. Past presenters included SJR Vineyard, Silwervis (South Africa), Sandlands and Turley Wine Cellars, The Wine Advocate, and Wine & Spirits.
Though this festival is a wine learning experience, there will be live music, cooking demonstrations, special menus, and delectable meals paired with Rhone wines. You’ll have serious fun!
6. San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting
- Location: Fort Mason Center
- Date: February
- Tickets: $75 to $95
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition continues as the talk of the town thanks to being the largest competition of North American wine worldwide, including over 7,000 evaluated wines by an impressive panel of judges across the country.
Any wine lover can attend the public tasting, featuring 1,500 gold-medal winners. All the winners are on hand for you to taste in two to three hours. Being a gold-medal winner, vineyards and wineries share the prestige for years to come, placing their vintage on the who’s who wine list of the world.
7. World of Pinot Noir
- Location: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort
- Santa Barbara, CA
- Date: March
- Tickets: $65.00 to $1,500 for a weekend pass
Spend the weekend by the seaside in Santa Barbara attending the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN). Participate in educational seminars, grand tastings, luncheons, and multi-course dinners. All centered around Pinot Noir.
Enjoy chatting with winemakers, sommeliers, renowned chefs, and leading wine scholars, celebrating this storied and delicious wine. The festival featured 250 wineries from various regions worldwide, with plenty of time to immerse in all things relating to this delectable red wine.
If you’re not a fan of the Burgundy grape, you will become one by the end of the festival. Don’t forget to attend the online silent auction to help support scholarships and non-profit organizations that help enlighten and educate the world about the Pinot Noir grape.
8. Garagiste Wine Festival
- Location: Paso Robles, CA
- Date: November
- Tickets: $65 to $90, VIP Pass $130
Enjoy the Garagiste Festival with over 400 wineries from California since the first festivity in 2011. You’ll meet the small wineries, making under 1500 cases annually, discovering winemakers of handcrafted and small-lot production.
Los Angeles Times calls the festivals “one of the premier events of the year.” Not only will you learn about innovative winemaking, but you’ll meet passionate winemakers who love to talk about making wine.
The wines to taste cover a wide range of reds and whites from sweet to dry and in between, including unique blends. You’ll expand your palate while making new favorites.
Please note that this is one of four festivals in California sponsored by Garagiste.
9. Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
- Location: Lake Skinner Regional Park, Temecula Valley
- May or June
- Tickets: $35 to $200 or more
Sipping wine and riding a hot air balloon makes this three-day festival so grand. You’ll also enjoy live music, food, the best sunrise balloon tour, and an evening Balloon Glow. Sample wine in the afternoon while participating in a wine barrel race.
The Commercial Court lets you indulge in retail therapy with over 150 vendors. And a Food Court to satisfy festival-goers’ appetites. It’s an annual event that’s lasted more than 35 years, a treasured Temecula Valley tradition.
10. Lodi Grape Festival
- Location: Lodi Grape Festival Event Center
- 413 E. Lockeford Street – Lodi, CA 95241
- Date: Septemeber
- Tickets: Kids: $6.00, Adults: $10.00 and Wine Tasting Event: $15.00 and $20.00
For over 80 years, the small town of Lodi has celebrated for four days in September, celebrating the grape harvest. During the festival, wine lovers can sip wine from local wineries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Sunday’s wine tasting includes local, amateur home winemakers with guest speakers. Learn about trimming grape vines to bottle homemade wine. All three wine tastings include a commemorative glass.
Besides the wine tasting, there’s much more, including live music from top headliners, concessions, carnival and competitive exhibits. The competitive exhibits have awarded over $30,000 of prize money every year. With over 80,000 attendees, come early, stay late, and bring your dancing shoes.