After what seemed like one of the longest winters ever — at least in some parts of the country — spring has finally arrived. This year, more than most, we’re ready to enjoy the great outdoors with a picnic lunch and a good bottle of wine.
And there’s no better place for that sublime, lazy experience than wine country.
With that in mind, we present six wineries — each in a different California wine region — that are known for offering places to snack and sip outdoors, accompanied by a heaping helping of gorgeous scenery.
Plan your wine country picnic soon. It will help you forget about the winter that would not end.
• Napa Valley — V. Sattui Winery (111 White Lane, St. Helena; 707-963-7774).
No visit to V. Sattui is complete without spending some quality time enjoying the estate’s popular picnic grounds. After sampling wines in the tasting room, choose from a large selection of award-winning wines and shop for food — cheeses, cold cuts and much, much more — from the on-site Italian marketplace and deli. Keep in mind that outside food and wine are not allowed on the property because V. Sattui has everything you need for a memorable wine country picnic — including lots of shade.
• Dry Creek Valley — Lambert Bridge Winery (4085 W. Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg;
During a visit to northern Sonoma County, the Chambers family was so captivated by the beauty of the area and the potential for Lambert Bridge Winery to become something truly exceptional that they became the second and current owners of the estate in 1993. The idyllic setting, tucked into the hillside and surrounded by a soaring grove of redwoods, inspired the building of a redwood-lined, vaulted tasting room with a massive stone fireplace to provide a warm and welcoming environment for guests. Lambert Bridge quickly earned a reputation as a destination point with its lavish gardens and extensive picnic facilities that celebrate the natural beauty of Dry Creek.
• Paso Robles — Castoro Cellars (1315 N. Bethel Rd., Templeton; 805-238-0725).
The tasting room is located in the heart of the Paso Robles wine appellation on scenic Highway 46 West to Highway 1 where, in addition to wineries, one can find the bucolic village of Cambria, historic Hearst Castle and the magnificent Big Sur coastline. Situated in the middle of Castoro’s organically grown Cobble Creek Estate Vineyard, the walk through the long grape arbor to the adjacent gardens is breathtaking. Those gardens feature lush native plants and specimen cork oaks, and the views of the surrounding hills and vineyards offer a great place to picnic and enjoy a glass of Castoro wine.
• Russian River Valley — Arista Winery (7015 Westside Rd., Healdsburg; 707-473-0606).
In addition to its wines, the McWilliams family prides itself on having created a true destination experience for visitors. A breathtaking setting of Japanese water gardens, mountain views and vineyard vistas, combined with an inviting tasting room, provide guests a welcoming environment that encourages picnic lunches and leisurely days spent on the estate.
• Sierra Foothills — Ironstone Vineyards (1894 Six Mile Rd., Murphys; 209-728-1251).
Gourmet sandwiches on freshly-baked breads, hot daily specials, salads and homemade desserts await in Ironstone’s well-stocked delicatessen. Guests can dine alongside the 42-foot-tall fireplace or on one of the patios that overlooks the estate’s famous gardens.
• Sonoma Valley — Chateau St. Jean (8555 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood; 707-833-4134).
Anyone who has visited Chateau St. Jean knows just how stunning the property really is. The gardens are filled with spectacular colors while offering visitors the feeling of having traveled all the way to the Mediterranean. The winery has become a top destination for garden and nature lovers, and with a charcuterie fully stocked with delicious local cheeses, great salads and flavorful sandwiches, guests can enjoy a fabulous lunch on the lawn in front of the majestic chateau.