The Best California Red Wines to Sip and Enjoy Today

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All the greatest flavors come from California and no one knows this more than wine enthusiasts! The best California red wines celebrate this great state, so let’s join the party and get to know all the great red wine the golden state has to offer! 

Related: best California white wines

Pouring red wine into a glass.

The Best California Red Wines

California winemakers are second to none in their understanding and commitment to the craft of winemaking. Every sensational sip of their wine is infused with the heritage of the past winemakers and the great state of California. Let’s uncork a great bottle and toast to them as we dive into the best California red wines to try right now!

California Barbera Wine

Scott Harvey J & S Reserve Barbera 2020

Scott Harvey Wines has a reputation for making excellent California red wines. This Amador County vineyard uses a marriage of California and German production methods to produce a luscious red wine worthy of any table. 

The unique soils of Amador County allow excellent and unique varieties to flourish, and that is what Scott Harvey specializes in. Their J & S Reserve is a perfect example of a unique grape being used perfectly. 

The J & S Reserve is a beautiful barbera with a dark fruit berry-forward body. Aged for 21 months in French oak barrels, this one is hard to beat. The rich finish will keep you coming back for more. In addition to these accolades, this great wine pairs well with grilled meats and other rich, savory dishes. 

Portalupi Shake Ridge Ranch Barbera 2021

In the Sierra foothills of Sonoma County, Portalupi Wine grows some of the most sensational and sought-after grapes in all of California. 

Their 2021 Shake Ridge Ranch barbera is a tribute to the one-of-a-kind grapes grown in that region. This bold barbera is born in a location with the perfect soil makeup, elevation, and slope. The result is a strong crop of beautifully flavored grapes. 

The Shake Ridge Ranch barbera has a nuanced and complex body with notes of black cherries, figs and licorice. It pairs perfectly with red meat and creamy sauces.

California Pinot Noir

Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir 2021

For twenty-five years Dutton-Goldfield has been making incredible coastal-inspired wines at their Sonoma County winery. Their vineyards produce complex and special grapes that make interesting and delicious wines. 

One of their greatest red wines is the 2021 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir. This silky and refined red wine has luscious notes of fresh boysenberries with a pleasant woodiness that dances on the tongue. 

This Russian River classic makes for a great pairing with aged cheddar, spices and root veggies. 

Luli Pinot Noir 2021

Luli Wines has a playful and flirtatious take on California winemaking tradition. They bring a fun and funky twist to all of their central coast wines. 

The 2021 Luli Pinot Noir is outstanding. It’s a flirty pinot noir with lots of flair. It has a gemstone red color that excites the palate, but its flavor is the true show-stopper. This delicious wine is laden with notes of strawberries and warm spices, making it the ideal drink for pairing with both sweet and savory foods. 

Red wine bottle and a glass on a bench.

California Zinfandel

County Line Zinfandel 2020

There might be something in the water in the Russian River Valley that inspired winemakers to no end because this region has given birth to some of the most interesting and best red wine around. 

That is certainly true for County Line Vineyards. This wonderful Russian River winemaker produces nuanced wines that perfectly blend California and European styles. 

One of their true hits in their 2020 Zinfandel. It’s a French oak-aged red wine with a robust body and fruity finish. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and dryness to suit just about anyone’s tastes. Pair it with pizza or roasted zucchini for a taste as vibrant as California wine country!

Dry Creek Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2021

Dry Creek Vineyard of Sonoma County crafts a portfolio of sensational wines that celebrate tradition. Many of their wines use heritage grapes that are resilient and delicious. 

One of Dry Creek’s best bottles is their 2021 Heritage Vines Zinfandel. It’s a delectable homage to pre-prohibition winemaking and the flavor is truly once in a lifetime. 

This zinfandel has a brambly body with notes of silky smooth cedar. There is a hint of white pepper in the finish that will make you want another sip. It’s the ideal wine for serving with spiced vegetables or indulgent chocolate cake. 

Jeff Cohn Cellars St. Peter’s Church Vineyard Zinfandel 2021

Jeff Cohn Cellars makes bold and flavorful wines in Alexander Valley. Their organic approach to winemaking pays tribute to the past while also staying current. 

Jeff Cohn Cellars makes one of the best California red wines with their 2019 St. Peter’s Church Zinfandel. It’s a luscious, oak-aged wine with a garnet color that rivals any gemstone. Every sip of this wonderful zin has tasty notes of black cherry and raspberry, with a mid-palate finish. Only 129 special cases were produced. 

Sample this balanced beverage with a full grazing board of cheeses, honeys, and meats. It’s well-rounded enough to go with just about everything! 

Grazing board for enjoying with some of the best California white wines.

Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2021

The community of Paso Robles is well-known for its variety of all kinds of wines. One of their best vintners is Ridge Vineyards. They specialize in making traditional and exceptional Californian wines.

One excellent example of their wines is the 2021 Paso Robles Zinfandel. This delightful vintage is loved by amateur and professional wine enthusiasts alike. The zin is loaded with notes of licorice, dark ripe fruit and spices with a balance that cannot be beaten. 

This beautiful zinfandel is ideal when enjoyed with a perfectly roasted chicken or duck. 

California Red Blends

Franciscan Estate Magnificat Meritage 2018

Franciscan Estate is one of the best-known names in California wines. Their portfolio is vast and full of fantastically unique and delicious wines; however, their crowning jewel is the delicious 2018 Franciscan Estate Magnificat Meritage. 

This incredible red wine blend includes Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, malbec, and cabernet franc. The result is a beautifully balanced wine with notes of black currant, fresh figs, and warm spices. It’s a bold wine that pairs perfectly with hearty red meats and charcuterie. 

Roth Estate Heritage Red Blend 2021

Roth Estate specializes in producing delicious Bordeaux-style wines using Sonoma County’s best AVA’s. Their wines are continuously celebrated by critics and the wine lover everywhere. 

Their 2021 Heritage Red Blend is a celebration of some of the most popular varietals of California wines. It fuses cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot to make a bold and delicious red blend. 

Heritage Red Blend has medium tannins and notes of chocolate, tobacco, and toasted graham cracker. It’s a robust choice to pair with equally bold foods like lamb and steak. 

AXR Proprietary Red 2021

AXR is a Northern California winery in the Napa Valley with lots of golden state style! Their portfolio includes many delectable reds, but one delicious outlier is the 2021 AXR Proprietary Red. 

AXR Proprietary Red is a red wine blend made up of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc, and petit verdot. This interesting mashup makes for a bold and full-bodied blend that is sure to please everyone! 

Proprietary Red has notes of dried cherries and dried plums with a herbaceous finish. It’s the ideal red wine to serve with roasted chicken and vegetables. 

Californian Cabs

Cabernet sauvignon sign in a California vineyard.

Louis Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet (2018 & 2019)

Some wineries know exactly how to grab your attention and that is true of Louis M. Martini Wines. These expert vintners know how to grow and blend cabernet sauvignon grapes into truly incredible wines. 

One of their most attention-grabbing vintages is their Alexander Valley Cabernet. Both the 20218 and the 2019 vintages are deliciously complex and assertive wines that demand your whole attention. 

This California cabernet is loaded with exciting notes of plums, fennel and cedar. It has a lingering finish that will stay in your mind until your next bottle! Pair this bold cab with hard cheeses, spiced vegetables and red meat. 

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Just about every wine enthusiast knows Beringer Wines, but that doesn’t mean that this California winemaker can’t surprise you! They have crafted some truly exceptional wines in the past, but their Beringer Knights collections will make you rethink the great red wine flavor. 

The 2020 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a testament to the incredible California wine culture. It’s an accessible yet interesting cab sauv blend that will please all palates. 

The blend is made with primarily cabernet sauvignon combined with cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, and petit verdot. This glass is loaded with notes of red currants and bittersweet chocolate. It has a juicy finish that goes well with dessert. 

California Syrah

Fess Parker Santa Barbara Syrah 2020

Fess Parker Winery makes some of the best wines in Santa Barbara County. Their roster of wines includes many delicious white and red wines, but their 2020 Santa Barbara Syrah stands above them all in terms of flavor and value.

The Fess Parker Santa Barbara Syrah is inviting and playful. It is aged in French oak and it has smooth tannins. The wine has wonderfully deep notes of dark cherry, black currant, and berries. 

This crowd-pleasing California red goes well with dark chocolate, nuts, and cheese.

One Last Sip

The best California red wines stand tall as some of the finest offerings, each bottle a testament to the region’s skilled winemakers. Whether you’re an experienced connoisseur or new to discovering your wine preferences, exploring California’s diverse selection of reds offers a journey filled with discovery and delight. Cheers to the endless possibilities awaiting within each bottle of red wine!

Toasting with glasses of red wine.


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