We’ve all heard the phrase “It takes a lot of beer to make great wine,” which—and we can say this from years of working winery harvests—is dead on. With long hours of dusty, sticky work, it used to be that just about any old beer would do after the last crush of the day. There also used to be no good breweries in wine country. But now there are increasing numbers making beautiful brews where wine reigns supreme.
Maybe it’s the lifestyle: work-hard, play-hard. Or the homegrown food & drink culture of living well by living local. Either way, with West Coast winery harvests in full-swing, we salute America’s wine regions with great craft beer, too.
What are your favorite breweries in Oregon, Washington, New York, and B.C.’s wine regions? Tell us below (and we’re working on lists of our own).
And read on for a quick list of six breweries making California wine country that much more delicious.
California Wine Country Breweries
St. Helena, CA
This newcomer calling itself “a collaboration of winemaking and brewing” recently launched a site and subscription service, hails from the heart of California’s wine country. Look for wine barrel-aged IPAs and Belgian style browns.
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
These Sonoma County makers of classic Racer 5 IPA (7.5%abv) are constantly adding new seasonals and hop-centric one-offs, not to mention barrel-aged stouts and even some promising sours like Tartare, a juicy Berliner weisse. The roomy, shaded patio is an ideal spot for a beer and bites.
Veteran brewer Denise Jones leads Napa Point Brewing which was founded in 2013 by a former chemical engineer and winemaker (and resides close to Napa Smith, an established Napa brewery also worth a stop). Look for Napa Point’s smooth Dry Irish Stout.
Russian River Brewing Co.
Santa Rosa, CA
Russian River’s brewpub in the heart of Santa Rosa is a pilgrimage point for beer lovers around the world thanks to the (deserved) fame of founder Vinnie Cilurzo’s sour beers like Consecration, and hoppy-yet-balanced wonders like Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder, to name two of RR’s most famous, most resinous IPAs.
Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery
Established in 1987, this was the first brewery in Napa since prohibition and features a leafy, quaint patio, limited-production beers, and well-above-par food offerings. If you want to try this beer, you’ll just have to visit in person—not a drop is sold anywhere else.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
AVBC as it’s sometimes known has been a mainstay in the California beer scene for some time, with award-winning brews including Barney Flats oatmeal stout and the citrusy, floral Hop Ottin’ IPA. The farm where it is produced also has its own well, livestock, tasting room, and 18-hole Frisbee golf course making it a popular destination for Sonoma County travelers.
Photo Credit: Calistoga Inn