The Napa Valley is California’s most popular wine country for a reason, but its notoriety can sometimes make it tricky to navigate. For a more low-key wine-tasting excursion, look no further than the affordable Sacramento area. Celebrated for its beer scene, California’s state capital is also a viable option for your grape juice fix. Here are a few spots to consider for your next date, girls’ day out, or relaxing Sunday.
Located at the corner of S and 29th Streets, Revolution Wines is Sacramento’s only fully operational urban winery (the winemaking process is conducted completely on-site). Grab a seat on the outdoor patio, saddle up to the wine bar for a $10 tasting of five rotating wines, or order a BLT to enjoy with a glass of Sacteaux (a 75 percent cabernet sauvignon and 25 percent barbera blend). Want to take some wine home but don't fancy a traditional bottle? Invest in a $5 Renew growler, and bring it in for refills—just like you would with beer.
If you’re feeling ambitious, sample wines from two different wineries at The Underground Tasting Room, located on Old Sacramento’s original street level. (Due to flooding concerns, buildings were eventually built up to the area we now think of as downtown's main level.) Patrons can taste from both Twisted Twig Winery, with grapes grown in El Dorado County, and Rendezvous Winery, with grapes from Clarksburg. A tasting of five wines will set your back $10, or go for the tasting of seven wines for $12.50.
Those looking for a modern vibe filled with new-age finishes, luxurious surfaces, and contemporary art will feel right at home at Whired Wine. Flights of three two-ounce tastings range from $10 to $15. If you prefer a glass, there are over 45 choices waiting for you with charcuterie or cheese boards to pair. Just a four-minute walk from the Golden 1 Center, Whired offers game-night specials: $6 wines and $7 bites, pre and post entertainment. Proper wine tastings are held on most Sundays, but be sure to check the website for updates.
On the Sacramento River
If you’re looking for a beautiful setting while you sip your red, white, and bubbly, rustic Scribner Bend Vineyards is the place for you. A 100-year-old barn transformed into a picturesque two-story loft serves as the tasting room. After sampling the wares, relax with a pizza from Paesano's in the courtyard while taking in the verdant gardens and acres of grapes. Try the unique almond sparkling wine, tempranillo, or reserve chardonnay. Tastings are $5 for five to seven varietals.
Fifteen miles south of downtown Sacramento, you’ll find McConnell Estates Winery. Housed in a charming 1860s home, the tasting room serves samples of five estate wines for just $5. From May through September, enjoy Free Music Fridays, which promise extended tasting room hours and live tunes from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Whenever you decide to visit, make sure to check out the popular 6 GenZin, an easy-to-drink zinfandel varietal blended as an homage to the family’s children.
Less than a 20-minute journey from downtown and situated alongside the Sacramento River sits the small town of Clarksburg, home to a plethora of unique wineries worth your time. Among them, try Miner’s Leap Winery. This boutique, 26-acre spot produces mostly fewer than 100 cases per varietal. One highlight is the Delta Breeze, a white wine blend that’s crisp and clean with a pleasant hint of sweetness. Tastings in the century-old barn are $5 for five wines (or a few more if they have extra bottles open).