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The Best Outdoor Wineries in Napa and Sonoma

Ian White | June 20, 2014 | Story Wine and Spirits

Current as of March 2016

Spring and summer in San Francisco might be a little (or a lot) cool and foggy. Even if you like the gloom, it can be nice to escape north to wine country for a change. Here, then, are a dozen of our favorite wineries with tips on all of them. Each one is perfect for a weekend getaway. Just make sure to bring us back a bottle.

Sonoma County:

Arista is squeezed between rolling hills just above the Russian River and Riverfront Regional Park. The vibe here is laid back, while large lawns and beautiful views beckon you to relax—and enjoy their serious Pinots.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery has a giant pool complete with special poolside wines and complimentary (and complementary!) juice boxes for those too young for the real thing. They also have bocce courts and a movie gallery. Make sure to reserve in advance.

Lynmar Estate’s patio is surrounded by verdant gardens, where much of the food they serve is grown. Their wines boast bold flavors and silky textures. Be sure to check out the vineyard guesthouse with a wrap-around deck where club members can sip during the valley's warm summer nights.

Gloria Ferrer’s “grand terrace” is remiscent of a French chateau while the vineyard vistas spread a romantic backdrop for chilled, sparkling wine. If you’re looking to cool down on a hot day, take a tour through their caves.

Ram’s Gate is a relaxed but posh spot for locals and wine-lovers who prefer being outdoors instead of in a stuffy tasting room. Ram’s Gate has a variety of nooks, tables, lawns, and areas to hang, sip, and nosh. They also offer pond-side picnics and outdoors activities like fishing.

Napa Valley:

Venge Vineyards has sharp packaging and modern style, but the wines exude a relaxed summer vibe thanks to owner and winemaker Kirk Venge. The tasting area is mostly glass, so the views are just as good from the air-conditioned tasting room as they are from the patio. Try the smokey Syrah and spicy Reserves, and don’t miss Scout’s Honor, their juicy and locally-celebrated field blend.

Domaine Chandon boasts a running stream, pond complete with fountain, and patio where you can buy bubbly and hang for as long as you like.

Pine Ridge has sloping lawns and terraces surrounded by vines and shaded by trees. Their classy tables and d├ęcor fit in nicely into the carefully manicured grounds, and their quaint tasting room and caves stay cool, should you need a break from the sun.

Odette Estate, across the street from Pine Ridge, has a modern feel with a light and airy atmosphere. Their patio typically gets a nice breeze and feels like a modern bistro. Despite a rush of recent accolades, it will likely have a table for you.

The tables and grassy areas of V Sattui are usually packed with picnickers drawn to its huge selection of wine, cheese, deli food, and BBQ. If it’s too crowded, check out sister property Castello Di Amorosa.

If you’re in Napa on a Friday afternoon, don’t miss Round Pond’s Sunset Lounge Party from 6 to 8 pm, beginning the first Friday in April. Locals and tourists kick back on reclining patio furniture and watch the sun set over the vineyards. And for those who love bubbles, both Mumm and Domaine Carneros have spacious patios with great views.

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