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2023’s Best California Wine Counties

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

California is the nation’s wine garden and wine cellar, but which counties in the state produce the most award-winning reds and whites, host the most wine tours, and are most popular and affordable for wine connoisseurs to visit?

LawnStarter pored over the data to uncork 2023’s Best California Wine Counties.

We compared all 58 counties based on five categories broken down into 18 key metrics.

See which Golden State counties earned a gold star in our ranking.

1. Napa

The Napa Valley Wine Train in California
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 72.27
  • Access Rank: 2
  • Quality Rank: 2
  • Accolades Rank: 2
  • Entertainment Rank: 4
  • Accommodations Rank: 20

2. Sonoma

Roadtrip in Sonoma County wine country, California
Rolf_52 / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 65.86
  • Access Rank: 1
  • Quality Rank: 10
  • Accolades Rank: 3
  • Entertainment Rank: 1
  • Accommodations Rank: 9

3. San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo
Aresium Art / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 52.37
  • Access Rank: 3
  • Quality Rank: 3
  • Accolades Rank: 4
  • Entertainment Rank: 5
  • Accommodations Rank: 2

4. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara California
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  • Overall Score: 42.85
  • Access Rank: 4
  • Quality Rank: 12
  • Accolades Rank: 15
  • Entertainment Rank: 6
  • Accommodations Rank: 3

5. San Diego

Ranch Santa Fe, San Diego, California
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  • Overall Score: 41.67
  • Access Rank: 6
  • Quality Rank: 6
  • Accolades Rank: 12
  • Entertainment Rank: 2
  • Accommodations Rank: 5

6. Stanislaus

Modesto, California
Matt Gush / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 36.86
  • Access Rank: 26
  • Quality Rank: 42
  • Accolades Rank: 1
  • Entertainment Rank: 34
  • Accommodations Rank: 51

7. Riverside

Riverside, California
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 34.07
  • Access Rank: 19
  • Quality Rank: 7
  • Accolades Rank: 9
  • Entertainment Rank: 9
  • Accommodations Rank: 1

8. Mendocino

California Coast in Mendocino
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 32.22
  • Access Rank: 8
  • Quality Rank: 18
  • Accolades Rank: 6
  • Entertainment Rank: 15
  • Accommodations Rank: 15

9. Los Angeles

Los Angeles neighborhood in San Fernando Valley
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  • Overall Score: 31.39
  • Access Rank: 5
  • Quality Rank: 38
  • Accolades Rank: 11
  • Entertainment Rank: 3
  • Accommodations Rank: 40

10. Monterey

Winery along Monterey County road highway G16, near Carmel Valley, on the California Central Coast.
randy andy / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 30.34
  • Access Rank: 7
  • Quality Rank: 33
  • Accolades Rank: 25
  • Entertainment Rank: 11
  • Accommodations Rank: 7

11. San Joaquin

Worker picking grapes
Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 27.36
  • Access Rank: 11
  • Quality Rank: 31
  • Accolades Rank: 5
  • Entertainment Rank: 28
  • Accommodations Rank: 50

12. Lake

Vineyards, Lake County California
Terry W Ryder / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 27.07
  • Access Rank: 15
  • Quality Rank: 21
  • Accolades Rank: 18
  • Entertainment Rank: 31
  • Accommodations Rank: 8

13. Solano

Vacaville, California
AlessandraRC / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 26.45
  • Access Rank: 20
  • Quality Rank: 4
  • Accolades Rank: 19
  • Entertainment Rank: 22
  • Accommodations Rank: 39

14. El Dorado

Tasting Room sign hanging in grape vines
Brandon Bourdages / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 25.49
  • Access Rank: 16
  • Quality Rank: 19
  • Accolades Rank: 22
  • Entertainment Rank: 26
  • Accommodations Rank: 26

15. Orange

Anaheim California neighborhood
NAPA / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall Score: 24.84
  • Access Rank: 17
  • Quality Rank: 32
  • Accolades Rank: 28
  • Entertainment Rank: 8
  • Accommodations Rank: 27

Behind the Ranking

Investing
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For each of California’s 58 counties, we gathered publicly available data on the following factors:

  • Number of Wine Producers and Blenders
  • Number of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)
  • Number of Wine Tasting Rooms
  • Number of Wine Bars
  • Share of Highly Rated (4.5+ out of 5 Stars) Wineries (With 10+ Reviews)
  • Average Consumer Rating of Wineries
  • Average Number of Reviews per Winery
  • Total Points for Gold Medals Won in Wine Competitions (2019-2022)
  • Total Points for Silver Medals Won in Wine Competitions (2019-2022)
  • Total Points for Bronze Medals Won in Wine Competitions (2019-2022)
  • Total Award Score (2019-2022)
  • Number of Wine Tours
  • Average Consumer Rating of Wine Tours
  • Number of Wine Festivals
  • Number of Accommodations
  • Share of Highly Rated (4.5+ Out of 5 Stars) Accommodations
  • Average Consumer Rating of Accommodations
  • Average Nightly Rate for Accommodations

We then grouped those factors into five categories: Access, Quality, Accolades, Entertainment, and Accommodations.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each county in each category. Finally, we averaged the scores for each county across all categories.

The county that earned the highest average score ranked “Best” (No. 1)

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