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12 California Wineries That Welcome Walk-in Visitors

12 California Wineries That Welcome Walk-in Visitors

No reservations are needed at many wineries across the state, from Mendocino to Temecula

Posted 4 months agoby Tina Caputo

Remember the days when visitors could explore popular wine regions like Napa Valley or Sonoma County without a plan, stopping to taste at any winery that looked interesting along the way? All that changed during the pandemic, when legal restrictions and staffing challenges led vintners to introduce reservations-only policies. While many have never looked back, appreciating the opportunity to staff accordingly and offer a more leisurely experience, there are still plenty of vintners that cater to spontaneous-minded oenophiles in search of discovery.

This guide to wineries across California that welcome walk-in visitors is not designed to be comprehensive: It’s a starting point for wine enthusiasts who want to keep their tastings high-quality and their schedules loose. 


Navarro Vineyards & Winery, Philo

It’s hard to believe no reservations are needed at one of the Anderson Valley’s most respected and popular wineries, but that’s just how they roll at Navarro. Even better, tastings are f-r-e-e. Sample Navarro’s lovely Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, grab some picnic supplies from the tasting room fridge and drink in views of the vineyards and rolling hills. Afterward, take a stroll through nearby Hendy Woods to see some epic redwoods.

Saracina Vineyards, Hopland

An inviting spot for sipping and picnicking, Saracina is set on a hilly, 400-acre estate that’s home not only to vineyards, but also a grove of century-old olive trees, alpacas, chickens, and a butterfly habitat. Among its thoughtfully made wines are a zingy Loire Valley–style Sauvignon Blanc and a citrussy, unoaked Chardonnay with a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel. 


Jeff Runquist Wines, Plymouth

Walk-ins are welcome at this small-production winery in Amador County. Named for its founder and winemaker, Jeff Runquist is known for creating balanced, age-worthy reds from appellations across California, from Amador County Barbera to Lodi Tempranillo. Impromptu tastings are held on the shaded patio or at the bar.


August Briggs, Calistoga

Head to charming downtown Calistoga to taste wines by the flight, glass, or bottle at August Briggs. The winery specializes in small-lot, vineyard-driven bottlings and offers an eclectic array of wines made in a balanced and reserved style. Wines include everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Pinot Meunier to Pinot Blanc.

Clif Family Winery, St. Helena

Clif Family welcomes walk-ins Monday through Friday for its Rifugio Tasting Flight, a pairing of Napa Valley wines with cheeses and savory nut mixes. On busier weekends, spontaneous types can snag a sipping space on the front piazza or at the bar, and order lunch from the Farm to Food Truck menu—made with produce from the winery’s organic farm. Taste Cabernet, Zinfandel, Viognier, and more.

Louis M. Martini, St. Helena

Pop into Cabernet-centric Louis Martini for the Crown Bar Tasting, created especially for walk-in visitors. Along with a sampling of the winery’s estate olive oil, the flight includes both small-lot wines and familiar classics. You’ll also get a chance to check out the recently restored winery, originally built in 1933.


Smith Story Wine Cellars, Healdsburg

Set within the Bacchus Landing collective in downtown Healdsburg, home to five boutique wineries and a large open patio with bocce courts, Smith Story welcomes guests with or without reservations. Small-lot wines include an intriguing Picpoul-Bourboulenc blend and a carbonic Zinfandel.

Joseph Jewell Wines, Forestville

A hidden gem of a tasting room in downtown Forestville, Joseph Jewell specializes in expertly crafted Pinot Noir from coastal vineyards in Sonoma County, as well as—surprise!—Humboldt County. The winery also makes a couple of juicy Vermentino wines, including a naturally sparkling rendition.


Lester Estate Wines at Deer Park Ranch, Aptos

The gorgeous, park-like setting at Deer Park Ranch draws plenty of visitors, yet the winery maintains some table space for pop-in visits. Trust us, it’s worth the wait. The Lester Estate wines, sold only through the safari-inspired tasting room in the Santa Cruz Mountains, are something special—especially the juicy, elegant Mercurio Pinot Noir.

Volatus Wine, Paso Robles

The friendly owners of Volatus Wines always make a point to accommodate folks who stop by without reservations. With decor that pays tribute to the owner’s days as a Navy fighter pilot, the tasting lounge includes a shaded outdoor space for kicking back with a glass of CAVU Viognier-Roussanne or Bloody Well Right Tannat.

Sunstone Winery, Santa Ynez

Reservations are optional at Sunstone, a beautiful organic vineyard, winery, and villa property located 35 minutes north of Santa Barbara. Imagine you’re in France with a dose of California sunshine as you sample highly rated organic Bordeaux- and Rhône-style wines in the Provençal courtyard or picnic grounds—that’s the vibe.



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Akash Winery, Temecula

Patio seating is first come, first served at Akash Winery. The vibe is casual and relaxed, with walk-up tasting bars that let visitors sample at their own pace. Tastings happen on the winery’s scenic patio overlooking the vineyards. On weekends, visitors can pair wood-fired Italian fare like Neapolitan pizzas with Akash’s estate Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel.