15 Unmissable California Distilleries You Should Check Out
Distilleries have become a popular tourist attraction in recent years.
As craft beers, wine tasting, and home-brewed alcohol have become more common, it’s only natural that people have taken a greater interest in how alcohol is made on a larger scale.
Thankfully, many distilleries now open their doors to the inquisitive public and have arranged tours of their premises so we can see the magic that goes into their drinks.
Whether you’re interested in wine, spirits, liquors, or the history of brewing, there are several distilleries around the country that are waiting for your visit.
This is especially true in California. This beautiful state on the Pacific coast is well-known for its delicious wines but there is more to California distilleries than just wine-making.
In this article, we have a list of the 15 most unmissable California distilleries that you should check out. No matter what type of alcohol you’re interested in, there is a distillery for you.
Let’s get started and look at our chosen distilleries.
There are many things to see and do at the Napa Valley Distillery (see also ‘10 Highly Rated Distilleries In Napa Worth A Visit‘)! It was the first distillery to open in Napa after Prohibition was ended and has decades of history.
It’s well-known for its vodka, but also produces a variety of other drinks made with many rare botanical ingredients.
You can take an educational tour around the distillery and learn all about their locally made spirits. You will learn how to properly taste and assess spirits and there is also a large tasting room as well as several bars and shops.
This boutique distillery is not just a tour around a distillery, but it is an entire cabaret show as well!
It’s located within a working rum distillery and the distillery has several specialty rums that can be tasted in several themed bars and rooms.
Much of the distillery equipment is outside and walking around is like visiting an amusement park.
The main draw of the distillery, however, is the cabaret and circus show. You can watch talented performers perform a modern circus show as you tour the distillery and sample the various rums.
Located in Sebastopol, Spirit Works Distillery is a small, micro-distillery but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. It ferments, distills, and bottles several homemade types of alcohol such as vodka, gin, and whiskey.
It has been voted Distillery of the Year by the American Distilling Institute and is regarded as one of the best distilleries to visit in Sonoma County.
You can take a tour of the distillery and taste some of their drinks and cocktails for $20 a person. Reservations are encouraged but not always necessary.
You will find Greenbar distillery in downtown LA and it is the first distillery to open in the city since Prohibition. Run by a husband and wife team, the distillery has a large catalog of handcrafted drinks such as tequila, gin, and whiskey.
They even brew non-alcoholic cocktails as well!
All of the drinks are organic and Greenbar has the largest portfolio of fully organic spirits in the world. It’s a very eco-friendly distillery and works to plant trees and become as close to carbon neutral as possible.
This family-owned distillery opened in Sonoma in 2008 and was the first craft distillery in the area. It makes handcrafted artisanal products in small batches and offers a wide range of different drinks.
These include liqueurs, gins, brandies, whiskeys, and vodkas.
There are a variety of different experiences offered by Prohibition Spirits Distillery. You can sample any six spirits from their long list for $25 and even hire a traveling bar to come to you and your party if you prefer!
This distillery is located in the beautiful Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast. It is a small craft distillery that uses locally sourced ingredients to make high-quality and handcrafted drinks.
The most well-known and popular drinks are Half Moon Bay Vodka and Half Moon Bay Gin.
The vodka is also available in a delicious lavender flavor.
The distillery is currently only open for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday. While visiting the distillery, you can also take the time to see the other beautiful sights and beaches that Half Moon Bay has to offer.
Indigeny Reserve is a little different from the distilleries we’ve mentioned so far as it is based around a 160-acre preserve and apple orchard.
The distillery makes hand-crafted apple brandy, fruit-infused vodka, and hard brandy on-site with the fruit in its orchards.
The site is open every day of the week and is ideal for a day trip. Take lunch and you can make a full day of your visit! You can visit both the cider works and brandy distillery, but the barrel room is by reservation only and only on weekends.
There is also a tasting bar available seven days a week.
A small micro-distillery located in Pasadena, Stark Spirits is run by a husband and wife team. The distillery makes several different high-quality drinks in small batches to ensure the quality and flavor of each bottle is perfect.
These drinks include rum, whiskey, gin, and espresso liqueur.
You will need to book a visit in advance as the distillery is not open to the general public. Each tour includes a tasting session and prices vary depending on the number of guests in each party.
Located in Buellton, this distillery is a family-owned business that specializes in whiskey, vodka, gin, and some less commonly found spirits and liqueurs.
The distillery is open every day of the week apart from Wednesdays. In the tasting room, you can try six different drinks for $15. There is also a wide range of cocktails that you can sample as well.
Jaxon Keys offers one of the most varied distillery experiences on this list. It is a 1,250-acre winery located in Hopland but it also produces three different spirits in the on-site distillery.
You can visit the ranch and store and enjoy a meal without reservation. Tastings and tours do require a reservation, however, and the site is open seven days a week.
Found in San Diego, Cutwater Distillery makes a variety of products but specializes in canned cocktails.
It brews more traditional bottled spirits, of course, but it is the cocktails that make it stand out from the other distilleries on this list.
The tasting room requires a reservation that can be made on the website. Larger parties will need to call the tasting room directly.
Another distillery located in Sonoma, this family-owned business specializes in handcrafted vodkas. Its vodka has won several awards and is made from organic ingredients.
You can visit the distillery and tasting room and need to book either tour. The tasting room begins at $30 and the tour is $75.
Dry Diggings distillery in El Dorado Hills is a small distillery with a large number of drinks in production. It brews whiskey, brandy, rum, and a variety of liqueurs plus many more.
You have the option of a distillery tour and tasting experience or can just opt for the tasting experience. Reservations are required for the tour and recommended for the tasting experience.
Blinking Owl is the first craft distillery to open in Orange County. All of the ingredients in their drinks are locally sourced and the grain is organic. The distillery makes vodka, gin, and whiskey.
Many of their drinks have won multiple awards and are available in different flavors.
As well as an on-site restaurant, Blinking Owl also gives distillery tours. These cost $30 per person and include a tasting as well.
Our final distillery is located in Paso Robles and is the home of several artisan and handcrafted spirits.
The distillery makes several spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey, and liqueurs, and also offers some interesting flavors such as cucumber vodka and kumquat flavored vodka.
You can visit the distillery for tastings, which cost $25 each. If you purchase two bottles of spirits, however, your tasting will be free!
In this article, we listed the 15 most unmissable California distilleries that you should check out. From wine to spirits to craft beers and more, there are several distilleries to choose from spread out all over California.
Many of the distilleries require their tours and tasting room experiences to be booked in advance so make sure that you check with the distillery before you visit to see if this is the case.
We hope that our list gives you some ideas of places to visit, regardless of whether you’re a California native or a visitor to the state.
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[…] In the 1960’s, Whillett developed Johnny Drum Bourbon which was the first one that was sold to wholesalers. It began being sold in California and then it spread around the country to other places (see also ‘15 Unmissable California Distilleries You Should Check Out‘). […]