We know your conventional places to visit are parks and recreation centers. They have the people and the activities to give you a good time. While making your visitation plans, you might want to try something new, like a California distillery visitation, before you fix up all the spots.
Distillery visitations are a unique and exciting way to experience the local culture and history, and you can even sample some of the region’s best spirits. It’s a great way to break up your itinerary and add variety to your trip.
Why Should I Visit a California Distillery?
You might wonder, Why would I want to visit a factory where spirits are manufactured? The California spirits industry offers much more than just sending barrels upon barrels of distilled spirits. Distilleries in paso robles, san luis obispo, el dorado hills, San Francisco, and other parts of California provide a unique opportunity to learn about the history and science behind spirit production, offer their products’ tastings, and often host events and tours.
It’s a chance to experience the artistry and craftsmanship that go into creating high-quality spirits. Much thanks to the new modification to the law, distilleries now plan for visitors who want to see how their favorite distilled spirits are made and even go on a tasting session of seasonal flavored spirits in one of their tasting rooms.
Are Distilleries in California Open to Visitors?
The distilleries in California are now open for visitors following the state’s recent update on its prohibition law. By this law, distillers have the option of opening tasting rooms. There are few better things than that.
We have assembled the best California distilleries for your enjoyment, some of whom have won the world spirits gold medal. These distilleries offer a wide range of spirits, from rye whiskey to gin, made with locally sourced ingredients and crafted with care. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or just starting, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at these California distilleries.
10 Must-Visit Distilleries in California
Townsend Distillery and Still House
One of the best California distilleries to visit in California is the Towns End distillery and stillhouse, which features a 500-liter German-built copper still and produces spirits including Bourbon, Whiskey, Vodka, Sugar daddy Rums and Gin. Visitors can take a tour of the facility, learn about the distilling process, and enjoy tastings of their award-winning spirits in the tasting room.
The distillery also offers a cocktail bar where visitors can enjoy handcrafted cocktails with their spirits. The stillhouse also has a tasting room to showcase unique handcrafted spirits. For the ultimate liquor aficionado, Town’s End offers exclusive full charred oak barrels with your choice of bourbon or whiskey. Customers can also participate in guided distillery tours to learn about the production process and history of the spirits and even have the opportunity to create their own custom blends to take home.
These special, exclusive liquor barrels can be adorned with engraved copper nameplates featuring your family or business name. After a two-year aging process, your barrel can be bottled by Town’s End with your choice of custom bottle and label. This personalized touch gives customers a unique and memorable experience, making it a great gift or addition to any collection. Town’s End also offers tasting events and cocktail classes to educate further and engage with their customers.
Krobar Craft Distillery
KroBar Craft Distillery in Paso Robles, San Francisco, was established with over 40 years of combined experience in alcohol production. This played a huge role in selecting the Vendome copper and brass works in Louisville, Kentucky, as their building site. Their expertise in alcohol production and state-of-the-art equipment allows them to create unique and flavorful spirits that many enjoy.
The distillery overlooks vineyards on Highway 46 and has tasting rooms in its social rooms and an ethanol alley. When visiting the Krobar craft distillery, Bourbon or Rye whiskey is a good tryout choice. A widely loved favorite you can also opt for is the special white wine aperitif called Lit. Krobar Craft gives you an exotic taste, a great view, and an amazing experience.
The white wine aperitif, lit, is made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc grapes, giving it a crisp and refreshing taste with notes of citrus and green apple. It pairs perfectly with the stunning views and ambiance of the cozy tasting bar provided by Krobar Craft, making for an unforgettable experience. The tasting area shares a terrace with the Grey Wolf wines from Barton Family Wines and barton’s grenache blanc, where you can access premium red wine grapes. Need a tasty meal to match? Lunch is just a few steps away!
Re: Find Handcrafted Spirits
From the packaging and the attention to detail put into their bottle design, you know you are in for a good time with Re: Find. This distillery takes pride in its artisan spirits distilled into high-quality vodka and gin spirits. Their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and sustainable practices also adds to the appeal of their products, making Re: Find a great choice for those who value both taste and ethical production methods.
Alex and Monica Villicana are both been winemakers and distillers over the years. The husband and wife team has accumulated much knowledge and expertise in distilling handcrafted, high-quality spirits. This year has seen new rye whiskey and bourbon from small California distilleries like this one. Along with Distinct, seasonal flavors are no exception, with a rich inventory featuring oak infused vodka, which is like whiskey and combines spice and caramel.
Some of the new rye whiskeys and bourbons have been aged in unique barrels, such as those previously used for wine or maple syrup, adding depth and complexity to the flavor profile of specialty spirits. Some distilleries also experiment with different California grains, such as quinoa or millet, to create distinctive spirits. Re: Find a distillery that transforms alcoholic martinis into a uniquely refined experience.
Sonoma County Distilling Company
Sonoma County Distilling Company was one of the first 200 distilleries in the United States. In 2010, the double distillation process helped the company grow. Sonoma County started the trend of distilling spirits twice instead of once, which is how most distilleries worldwide do it.
The double distillation allowed the company to produce a smoother and cleaner-tasting spirit, which helped them gain popularity among consumers. As a result, other distilleries in the region and worldwide began to adopt this technique, leading to an overall improvement in the quality of the spirits produced. This was done to get the right amount of alcohol in the spirits. They specialize in producing alembic-distilled wines with a distinct alembic taste and a hint of caramel. It’s then grafted onto new oaks in Missouri and Minnesota.
Sonoma’s Cornerstone gardens add to the experience of the distillery tour. The brand prides itself on its eco-friendly processes, as they use ethically sourced grains rather than GM grains, some of which are grown in California. One of their most popular spirits is made from malted barley smoked in Petaluma using Calico California Cherrywood. The result was an open-grain spirit worthy of your taste buds. This unique process gives the spirit a distinct smoky flavor that sets it apart from other malted barley spirits on the market. It’s no wonder it has become a favorite among casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike.
Prohibition Spirits Distillery
If you are one for organic products, prohibition spirits are a great option. Don’t let the name fool you; Prohibition Spirit Distillery opened the doors for California’s first organic spirits, including the organic LimonCello, Hooker House Whisky, Sugar Dummy Rum, Jacks-the-Gin, Chavet Brandies, and many others. Their commitment to using only the finest local organic ingredients and sustainable practices has earned them numerous awards and recognition in the industry.
Prohibition Spirits Distillery offers a unique, high-quality drinking experience that is both environmentally conscious and delicious. Aside from spirits tasting, the team offers mixologists workshops and organizes private and group events at Cornerstone art filled Gardens, which features an outdoor testing kitchen, artsy landscapes, concerts, boutique wines, and stunning sunset views. They bring the experience and the exotic together in one place with live music, meet-and-greet events, and much more.
If any distillery is on your visitation list, Prohibition Spirit deserves a spot. Located in the heart of Bristol, Prohibition Spirit is not just a distillery but also a cultural hub that offers visitors an immersive experience of the world of spirits and cocktails. With its expert mixologists and unique flavors, Prohibition Spirit is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the art of mixology.
Young and Yonder Spirits
Suppose you love the process and would like to know how a particular distinct taste and concentration are achieved in your favorite liquor. In that case, Young and Yonder Spirits Tastings has its doors open to give you just that experience and much more. Young and Yonder spirits tastings from Cloverdale are known for their high-quality Armond vodka spirits. Their tasting room offers a cozy and intimate atmosphere, perfect for learning about the distillation process and trying out their award-winning spirits.
Visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding vineyards while sipping on handcrafted cocktails. The distillation is meticulous and intentional. They engage in a six-stage slow distillation process where the spirit undergoes several purification processes to yield that smooth, refined taste, perfect to be tasted alone or to spice up a well-mixed cocktail.
The distillery uses only the finest, locally sourced ingredients to create its unique blends, ensuring that each bottle is of the highest quality. Additionally, visitors can take a guided tour of the distillery to learn more about the history and art of distillation. When you go visiting and tasting, keep an eye out for a special bourbon straight from the distilling table of the co-founders.
Alley 6 Spirit Works Distillery
As a small-scale distillery operating since 2012 in California, Alley 6 does well to make their mark with high-quality spirits from their distillery. Their portfolio includes a range of whiskies, gins, and brandies, all made with locally sourced ingredients and a focus on sustainability. The distillery also offers cocktail classes and private events for those looking to learn more about mixology.
A visit to the distillery will allow you to taste a wide range of handcrafted spirits like Rye Whiskey, Single Malt Whiskey, Harvest Gin, and Candy Cap Bitters. You also learn about their micro-distillery triple distillation and take an eventful distillery tour.
The knowledgeable tour guides will take you through the history of the distillery and its founders, giving you a deeper understanding of the craft and passion that goes into every bottle produced. You can also purchase bottles of your favorite spirits to take home and enjoy.
Alley 6 is a family business fueled by the passion for making high-quality, handcrafted spirit whiskey in small batches. Another reason to have this distillery on the visitation list is that you get to taste the single malt whiskey, which is exclusively available to all tourists and visitors in the tasting room. Their tasting room is also a great place to learn about the distilling process and get a behind-the-scenes look at how their award-winning whiskey is made. You can even book a tour to see the production facility and meet the distillers.
Charbay distillery is one of the first distillery setups in America and is renowned for its high-quality brandy, especially its Alambic pot still brandy of 1983. It is a high-end distillery that upholds family tradition by producing one of the best-handcrafted spirits in California and all of America.
Their portfolio also includes a range of spirits such as vodka, rum, and whiskey, all made with the same level of care and attention to detail as their brandy. Charbay Distillery thrives from a well of knowledge in spirit production passed on from generation to generation across the ocean from Europe. Charbay distillery has won consecutive awards for its brandy, including the whiskey R5.
The distillery sits alongside Charbay Winery, giving it the liberty of offering rich tours, exquisite tasting tours, barrel-aged whisky, and even hand-rolled cigars. Charbay Distillery is a family-owned business producing artisanal spirits for over 30 years. Their brandy is made from premium wine grapes and distilled in small batches using traditional copper stills, resulting in a smooth and complex flavor profile.
Napa Valley Distillery
Following the updated laws and ban lift, downtown Napa Distillery was the first of the high end California distilleries to open in Napa Valley, offering tasting tours in two open tasting rooms. You can opt for the tasting experience at the Grand Tasting Salon or the vintage bar shop known for its high-quality, exquisite vodka. In addition to its brandy, Napa Valley Distillery also produces a variety of other spirits, including gin, whiskey, and liqueurs.
Their commitment to using only the finest ingredients and traditional methods has earned them numerous awards and accolades in the industry. Napa Valley offers single vintage Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, George spirits, and a dozen small-batch releases like Old Hollywood Ginn, made with nine rare botanicals and a little oak. The attention to detail at Napa valley distillery is evident in every sip, making their wines and spirits highly sought after by connoisseurs worldwide.
Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious novice, Napa Valley’s offerings will surely impress. Their grand tasting salon boasts a rich inventory of over 400 drinks, including cocktail bitters, syrups, shrubs, and accouterments worldwide.
Spirit Works Distillery
The “grain-to-glass” method is used at the Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, as it is at many of these smaller California distilleries. This way of making spirits gives the maker full control over the whole process. The resulting spirits are high-quality and unique, showing off the flavors of the local ingredients. Visitors can tour the distillery and sample their award-winning gin, vodka, and whiskey in the tasting room. The grains are milled, mashed, fermented, and distilled in one location.
Wherever feasible, the distillers at this artisan micro-distillery use organic ingredients grown right in their backyard. Timo and Ashby Marshall are a couple that loves the water, the mountains, and a good drink. They’re selling their drinks with great pride at the Barlow Open Air Craft Marketplace. Everything from grinding grains to brewing and distilling alcohol is done in-house. Their drinks are made with locally sourced ingredients, and they believe in supporting small businesses.
They offer a unique and refreshing taste perfect for any outdoor adventure. This micro-distillery stays true to its roots, using organic, locally sourced ingredients wherever feasible. Timo and Ashby Marshall like the outdoors, including sailing, climbing, and drinking spirits. They are proudly selling their drinks at the Barlow Open Air Craft Fair.
California Distilleries is Worth Visiting When you Need A Break From Wine
There are exceptional wine regions, but the California Distillery is incredibly well worth visiting. Since the new law enables distillers to have tasting areas open. The top-producing California distillates offer tasting rooms. Another advantage is that most California distilleries are located within major regions of the wine industry. This means there is an opportunity to offer something to the people!
Anybody interested in spirits and their manufacture, as well as the history and culture around them, would greatly benefit from a trip to a California distillery. Taste and learn about the unique and locally obtained ingredients that give California spirits their distinctive character, and watch the artistry and creativity that goes into crafting high-quality spirits.
In addition to being a terrific opportunity to show support for regional companies and the burgeoning craft spirits sector in the state, a visit to a distillery can be a fun and instructive outing for groups of friends or families. Spirits aficionados and inquisitive tourists go to California for the state’s rich history, varied geography, and dedication to sustainability and innovation.