Craft Beer in California’s Wine Country

A Sunday Bonus Beer ~ Out-of-State Adventures

The argument rages between wine lovers and beer enthusiasts about which delightful liquid tastes better, takes more effort or skill to make, draws a stronger community, or relies on a more refined palette. The debaters can have their positions, while I’ll continue to thoroughly enjoy both fermented grapes and fermented malts.

That’s why on our California adventure back in June, we attempted to cover a wide variety of wineries and breweries.  For us, the two beverages go hand-in-hand, and no better place exemplifies this symbiotic relationship than the wine country of and near Sonoma County.

Specialty Beers at Bear Republic

So for this post, we prepared a list of wineries that are definitely worth visiting.  And we want to highlight two more impressive breweries: Bear Republic (in downtown Healdsburg), and Anderson Valley Brewing Company (on a stunning drive north to Boonville).

Bear Republic offers a classic brewpub food experience with exceptional beer.  Their hard-hitting taster tray of specialty beers is not to be missed, and the Racer Five stands out as a California IPA hop bomb, also enjoyed in bottles from local stores. After Bear Republic, Healdsburg is a perfect town to stroll, enjoying the central plaza and picking your way through wine tasting rooms and fine restaurants will keep you more than busy.

Anderson Valley Hop Vines

Just the aesthetics alone of Anderson Valley makes the hour and a half drive from Healdsburg to the Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC) worth your time.  AVBC’s large, airy tap room leads you to an outdoor beer garden. A short walk farther takes you to their hop field: the great brewery/winery crossover. There’s something quite special about walking through rows of grape vines at a vineyard, dancing amongst tall rows of hops is equally beautiful.

Now head back inside for a massive list of beers. AVBC serves up delicious standards like their Oatmeal Stout (that I’ve been enjoying for years), and an array of high-alcohol and barrel-conditioned beers that will knock you off your stool with flavor and finesse. Plus, they have a great selection of bottles to take home.

You really can’t go wrong at either Anderson Valley Brewing Company or Bear Republic. And to visit other breweries near California Wine Country, see our post, “Beer Mecca,” covering Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, and Russian River. Finally, here are some wineries boasting unique qualities to enjoy on another day or in-between pints:

Sonoma Wineries (Near Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, & Russian River)

Coppola in Dry Creek Valley (food, wine, scenery, and Hollywood memorabilia)

Goldeneye near Boonville/Anderson Valley (beautiful property and perfect Pinot Noir)

Kendall Jackson in Healdsburg (tasty limited releases not available in stores)

Truett and Hurst of Dry Creek Valley (garden & Adirondack chairs along the creek)

Paso Robles Wineries (Near Firestone Walker)

Whalebone (family owned and operated)

Dubost (off the beaten path with very knowledgeable staff)

Our other posts about California Breweries

Smaller Operations in San Diego County

Large Operations in San Diego County

Orange County and San Bernardino County Breweries


Out-of-State Adventures Explanation: We’ve been asked why we write about beer (and wine) from out-of-state on Colorado Brewery Days.  It’s a good question. There’s certainly enough wonderful beer in Colorado, and even some new breweries now in the state that our summer travels have kept us from visiting. But I believe firmly that to learn about one subject (Colorado beer) you must study other subjects to compare and contrast.  For instance, three years ago, Colorado IPAs often approached their hop-profiles with a little less punch than California IPAs. As California IPAs began dominating the market, some Colorado breweries started pushing the hop envelope. Colorado’s IPA innovations soon influenced other parts of the country. So what’s happening in the Colorado beer scene is directly effecting, and being effected by, beer from all over the country, (and the world).


2 comments on “Craft Beer in California’s Wine Country

  1. We’re glad you enjoyed yourselves in the Valley, and we look forward to visiting Colorado in October for GABF!

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