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A Guide to San Jose Wineries and Tasting Rooms

San Jose wineries offer a taste of California’s finest wines, available in the heart of Silicon Valley. If you’re a wine connoisseur or just looking for a relaxing day out, this small but vibrant wine region has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of San Jose wineries, sharing insights, real-life experiences, and tips to make the most of your visit.

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The Rich History of San Jose Wineries

To truly appreciate the world of San Jose wineries, it’s really important to understand their historical roots. In the 18th century, Spanish missionaries first brought grapevines to California. These vines thrived in the region’s Mediterranean climate, laying the foundation for the state’s renowned wine industry.

Fast forward to the 19th century, and winemaking in San Jose began to flourish. The Santa Clara Valley, where San Jose is located, became known as the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” due to its fertile soil and ideal grape-growing conditions. The places now covered with tract homes and shopping malls used to be miles of orchards.  

Families like the Almadens and Newmans established wineries that are still in operation today, carrying a legacy that spans generations. 

The Modern San Jose Winery Experience

Today, San Jose wineries continue to produce exceptional wines, drawing visitors from all over the world. When you step into one of these wineries, you’re not just tasting wine; you’re immersing yourself in a tradition that dates back centuries. Let’s dive into some of the best wineries to visit and what makes each one special.

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is a name synonymous with quality in the world of San Jose wineries. Founded by Jerry Lohr, this family-owned winery has been producing award-winning wines since 1974. From their picturesque estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains, they offer a range of varietals, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

One of the standout features of J. Lohr is their commitment to sustainable farming practices. They prioritize environmental stewardship, and it’s evident in the lush vineyards that surround their estate. These days wine lovers can visit J. Lohr Vineyards and taste their current offerings.  

J. Lohr Vineyards offers a limited selection of good food like a cheese platter to pair with your sauvignon blanc or their other exquisite varieties.  

While reservations aren’t required to taste J. Lohr’s flavorful wines, they do recommend calling ahead especially if you have a larger group.  J. Lohr has a wine club and members receive winemaker-selected four, six, or eight-bottle shipments in the Winter (February), Spring (May), and Fall (October) of each year

Address: 1000 Lenzen Ave, San Jose, CA 95126

San Jose wineries photo of a rose and chardonnay on a wood bar top

Coterie Cellars

Coterie Cellars is a small, urban tasting room that is open daily in downtown San Jose. Parking can be tricky as it is in a busy area, but there is usually street parking available within a block or two. It’s best to check their website or call ahead to see if reservations are recommended, especially on weekends when it can get quite busy. 

Ashley W./Yelp.com

Coterie specializes in producing small-batch wines using grapes sourced from premier vineyards in California. They offer a variety of red, white and sparkling wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rosé. Many of their wines have won awards at competitions.

The winery has an intimate tasting room with a cozy, lounge-like setting. Guests can sample various wines by the glass or flight and pair them with small plates from local food trucks.

It’s a great place to relax and experience local Santa Clara Valley wines in a sophisticated yet casual environment. The knowledgeable staff is happy to provide wine recommendations and answer any questions.

Address: 885 W Julian St San Jose, CA 95126

​Testarossa Winery

Testarossa Winery, located in Los Gatos, a small town next door to San Jose, is another winery gem near the San Jose area. This winery is celebrated for its dedication to crafting exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines and offers daily tastings. The moment you step onto their beautiful winery, you’re transported to a European-style estate with a charming courtyard and inviting tasting rooms.

One of the unique aspects of the delightful Testarossa winery is its use of fruit from renowned vineyards across California. This allows them to showcase the diverse terroirs and microclimates that contribute to the complexity of their wines. Whether you’re sipping a vibrant Chardonnay or a velvety Pinot Noir, you’re sure to appreciate the artistry behind each bottle.

Parking is easy at Testarossa since they have a dedicated parking lot. Wine lovers will find outdoor tables in the shade or sun and they have a robust wine and small plate menu.  

Address: 300 College Ave Los Gatos, CA 95030

Goodtime Bar

Goodtime Bar is a popular new wine bar located in downtown San Jose’s Fountain Alley. Goodtime Bar boasts an extensive natural wine selection and their rotating wines by the glass are always fantastic.

Parking can be tricky as it’s in a busy area, but there are generally spots available in nearby surface lots and garages. Reservations are not required but are recommended for weekend evenings when Goodtime Bar tends to get crowded. 

The vibe of the bar is super relaxed good music playing in the background. In general, Goodtime Bar will have 5 wines (a mixture of sparkling, red, and whites) on rotation weekly, with each being $14 a glass.  Their menu is a mixture of snacks and small plates including a meat plate, grilled oysters, deviled eggs and even dole whip floats!

Goodtime Bar takes reservations and the patio is kid-friendly making it one of the most popular wine tasting destinations in San Jose.

Address: 30 Fountain Aly Ste 160 San Jose, CA 95113

Devine Cheese & Wine

Devine Cheese & Wine is an intimate wine bar located in downtown San José.  Devine Cheese & Wine specializes in boutique wines from small family-owned wineries around the world, with a constantly rotating selection by the glass and bottle. They focus on lesser-known varietals and regions beyond just California and France. 

The knowledgeable staff can provide spot-on recommendations if you tell them your wine preferences. The wine list includes many hard-to-find bottles from rising star winemakers. In addition to wine, Devine Cheese & Wine serves craft beers and small bites like cheese boards and paninis. 

The cozy interior features dim lighting, brick accents, and an open kitchen. A small outdoor patio offers al fresco dining. Devine Cheese & Wine provides a sophisticated yet casual atmosphere to expand your wine horizons without pretense. It’s ideal for wine lovers looking to discover new tastes.

Street parking is available on the surrounding blocks, but it can be difficult to find during peak times. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited inside this small but great venue.

Address: 27 Devine St #30, San Jose, CA 95110

Big Dog Vineyards

Big Dog Vineyards is a family-owned winery tucked away in Milpitas which is a short drive from San Jose.  Big Dos is a local vineyard that produces small batches of premium wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Sangiovese. Many of their reds are aged extensively in oak barrels and Big Dog specializes in estate-grown wines using grapes harvested from their organically farmed vineyards in Livermore Valley.

Big Dog Vineyards is one of the most popular local vineyards in the area and they have a tasting flight that allows wine lovers to sample five wines which they can enjoy inside their cozy tasting room decorated with comfy couches and dogs. Or wine lovers can have an outdoor tasting on their vineyard-overlooking patio surrounded by open space.

On weekends, they often have various special events like live music and food trucks onsite. The staff is extremely friendly and happy to answer any wine questions you may have. Big Dog offers an intimate wine country experience just outside Silicon Valley, perfect for easy impromptu tastings.

Parking is ample in their large dirt lot onsite. Reservations are not needed in their rustic tasting room. 

Address: 4545 Felter Rd Milpitas, CA 95035

Tips for San Jose Wineries

Visiting San Jose wineries is more than just savoring great wine; it’s a journey of discovery. When planning your winery adventure, here are some tips to enhance your experience:

1. Call Ahead for Reservations

Many wineries, especially boutique ones, require reservations for tastings. Calling ahead ensures you secure your spot and receive personalized attention during your visit.

2. Pace Yourself

Wine tasting is a sensory experience best enjoyed slowly. Sip, savor, and take notes if you like. It’s about quality, not quantity.

3. Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask winery staff questions about the wines, the winemaking process, and the history of the estate. They are usually more than happy to share their knowledge.

4. Bring Snacks

Most wineries offer cheese and charcuterie boards, but bringing your own snacks can be a great way to enhance your tasting experience. Just be sure to check the winery’s policy on outside food.

San Jose wineries offer an inviting journey through California’s rich winemaking heritage. From the historic estates to the modern tasting rooms, each of these unique wineries tells a unique story through its wines. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a curious novice, there’s something magical about exploring the world of San Jose wines.

As you plan your visit, remember to call ahead, ask questions, and take your time savoring the flavors. Embrace the opportunity to pair wine with small and enjoy the added experiences these wineries offer, such as live music and picnics in the vineyards. So, embark on your grape escape and let the world of San Jose wineries unfold before you, one sip at a time. Cheers!

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