5 West Coast Wineries Which Are A Perfect Blend Of Vino & Vistas

5 West Coast Wineries Which Are A Perfect Blend Of Vino & Vistas

Randy Lai
Randy Lai


This article is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more.

Beyond its plethora of cities that are already obvious holiday destinations, the West Coast plays a pivotal role within the USA’s ecosystem for wine tourism. And for good reason. 

On its own, California accounts for about 85% of all American wine production; though it’s by no means the only place on the ol’ Pacific Seaboard where award-winning vinting is now taking place. 

Whether it’s a venerable old stalwart deep in ‘AVA’ country – (American Viticultural Area) the American equivalent of the European appellation – or a punk rock-type operator hidden in an industrial park (yes, really) we consider each of the following West Coast wineries are foolproof destinations for all levels of enthusiast – all inside the contiguous bounds of California, Washington, and Oregon. 

Even if you have to do a little legwork (in terms of transportation and booking ahead), we promise: that inconvenience will quickly be forgotten, once you’re in the vineyards doing your best Sideways impression.  

Duckhorn Vineyards – St. Helena, California

Closest town/city: St. Helena, 5 minutes drive

Closest major airport: San Francisco International (SFO), 1hr 30 mins drive

With a palatial Estate House set amidst acres of rolling vines, Duckhorn might well be one of the most picturesque vineyards in California (if not the entirety of the USA). 

Established in the mid-1970s by Margaret and Dan Duckhorn, the estate that bears their family name has become a regular medal-minter. In particular, the winery’s single-vineyard bottlings – such as the ‘Three Palms’ Merlot and ‘Monitor Ledge’ Cab Sauvignon – are regular presences in the pages of Wine Spectator, with sales volumes strictly controlled (even among the brand’s best customers). 

Framed by Napa’s majestic mountain ranges and gardens, that are neatly manicured year-round, this is an idyllic destination for those drinkers who demand scenery that’s as incredible as the contents of their tasting flight. 

Like many of the heaviest hitters in St. Helena, Duckhorn keeps regular business hours and is open to the public daily. For a full list of “Elevated Tasting Experiences” – such as tours or semi-private masterclasses – head to the winery’s website. 

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – Napa, California

Closest town/city: Napa, 14 minutes drive

Closest major airport: Oakland International (OAK), 1hr 5 mins drive

Not to be confused with nearby Stag’s Leap Winery (also situated on the Silverado Trail), Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is a mandatory pitstop for enthusiasts of American winemaking. 

Founded in 1970, the estate is most famous – among oenophiles – for revolutionizing the Californian wine scene, thanks to its victory over a succession of legendary French winemakers at the 1976 ‘Judgment of Paris’

In the decades since, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has become synonymous with best-in-class Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, with single-vineyard bottlings like the iconic S.L.V. commanding prices in excess of $500. 

Even if you’re not gunning for cases of rare wine, a visit to the estate comes highly recommended. From the FAY Outlook & Visitor Centre (designed by Spanish architect Javier Barba) guests can enjoy panoramic views of the estate vineyards, bounded to one side by the majestic Stag’s Leap Palisades. 

From short and sweet tasting flights to a paired “Kitchen Experience” only available on weekends, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this estate. Just be sure to book ahead. 

Arista – Healdsburg, California

Closest town/city: Santa Rosa, 30 minutes drive

Closest major airport: Sacramento International (SMF), 2hr 24 mins drive

Located in the epicentre of the Russian River Valley, one of California’s most acclaimed AVAs, Arista beckons visitors with its inimitable fusion of old and new. About 5 minutes’ drive from the quaint county town of Healdsburg, this estate is the lifeblood of the McWilliams family – makers of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 

The redwood forestry and ebbing hilltops of the surrounding area (known locally as “Middle Reach”) yield an ideal backdrop for tastings. Unlike many of the bigger commercial operations you’ll find in California, most guest experiences at Arista begin with a guided tour of the vineyards – culminating in your arrival at the Estate Pavilion.

Walk-ins are of course available, but if you’re even a little interested in sampling the good stuff – in this case, Arista’s limited-production ‘Estate Wines’ – our advice is most definitely to book ahead. Note this winery is closed Monday through Wednesday.

Cadence – Seattle, Washington

Closest town/city: Seattle, 25 minutes drive.

Closest major airport: Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), 15 mins drive

The original David in an industry full of Goliaths, Cadence was founded by Gaye McNutt and Benjamin Smith in 1998. Squirreled away in an industrial park, about half an hour’s drive from the iconic Seattle Space Needle, there is a rock’n’roll quality to Cadence Winery that belies its popularity among wine industry royalty. (The English critic Jancis Robinson is a massive fan.)

Though Smith and McNutt carry out the majority of their winemaking at Cadence HQ, all the fruit itself originates from the Red Mountain AVA – one of the smallest such appellations in Washington. The resulting raw material is used to craft Cadence’s award-winning Bordeaux-style blends, with estate bottlings like ‘Bel Canto’ and ‘Camerata’ proving to be household names. 

Despite the fact that Cadence is an appointment-only type joint – and the closest ‘vista’ consists of the densest skyline in the Pacific Northwest – we’re of the unshakable belief you should still make the effort to visit – particularly if holiday plans place you in Seattle.

Elk Cove Vineyards – Gaston, Oregon

Closest town/city: Portland, 60 minutes drive.

Closest major airport: Portland International (PDX), 1hr 15 mins drive

One of the forerunners of the now-dominant cool climate wine movement so synonymous with the Willamette Valley, Elk Cove was founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell. 

Today, the winery is still very much a family affair, with Adam Campbell (the founders’ son) working hand-in-hand alongside Heather Perkin – Elk Cove’s very own Aussie – to deliver Pinot Noir and various white wines of outstanding quality. 

With a total of 35 hectares under vine, sprawled across a range of differently elevated hillsides, the view at Elk Cove invariably plays a role in any decision to visit. For visitors, the Winery Estate is where the magic happens. Flanked on its northern and southerly expanse by Pinot Noir vines as far as the eye can see, this is where you’ll find Elk Cove’s spacious tasting rooms – with verdant views of the Estate vineyard below. 

This article is sponsored by VisitTheUSA.com.au and is part of a series celebrating Boss Hunting’s favourite corners of the United States. Click here to see more, and thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].



Share the article