10 Incredible Women-Owned Wineries To Visit In California

California has something to offer for every type of traveler. From the fairytale-like Carmel-by-the-Sea and iconic San Francisco to surf-ready Santa Cruz and star-studded Los Angeles, the state is packed with adventures for all tastes. If you're a wine lover, you'll surely be eyeing Napa Valley for your next culinary vacation, but California's rich wine offerings reach far beyond that single region. Even more exciting is the number of incredible women-owned wineries that have sprung up across the state, although there's still a long way to go. Tara Gomez, co-owner of Camins 2 Dreams, explains what winery ownership looks like in California. She told us, "With only 14% of women in leading roles within the wine industry, that percentage quickly decreases to 4% of women-owned wineries, decreasing even more to less than 1% when you account for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities."

As Breathless Wines co-founder Sharon Cohn notes, "In such a male-dominated field, it's important to recognize and celebrate the work of women in the industry." By enjoying their wines, "we can celebrate the achievements of these women and appreciate the unique perspective and approach they bring to winemaking." To help you do just that, we've compiled 10 California wineries run by some truly trailblazing women, which you'll definitely not want to miss out on. And to make it even better, many of them also offer wine clubs, so you can keep the support going all year long as you sip on delicious Cali-grown wines delivered right to your doorstep.

J Dusi Wines (San Luis Obispo County)

Zinfandel is the city of Paso Robles, California's heritage grape, which is why it's synonymous with the region. J Dusi Wines, owned by Janell Dusi, embraces that heritage to the fullest. In fact, her family's Dante Dusi Vineyard (planted in 1945) is the only old vine vineyard in Paso Robles that's still family-owned and operated. It's where Janell was born and raised. Being a farmer's daughter meant she learned to work the land early on. "We as kids were expected to be useful hands in every step of the farming cycle of a vineyard," she tells us.

Janell, the fourth-generation Dusi involved in the vineyard's operation, eventually decided to take things one step further and try her hand at winemaking. "I wanted to take it full circle and turn these grapes that we worked hard on all year to grow and turn it into wine with our family name on the front," she explains. Enter J Dusi Wines. Putting aside 20% of the vineyard's production for her own use, Jannell began crafting her very own 100% Zinfandel from the Dante Dusi Vineyard. The label also produces an array of other wines made from a mix of varietals. Visit the vineyard and you can learn all about the history of the region and the Dusi family during a one-hour tasting. What's more, you can pair your wines with a cheese or charcuterie platter and, if you opt to sit on the patio, you'll be treated to incredible vineyard views.

Camins 2 Dreams (Santa Barbara County)

Lompoc, California's Camins 2 Dreams is a winery built on love. Its founders, Mireia Taribó and Tara Gomez, share a deep-rooted love for wine, having both studied enology in university. That love is also what brought them together, both as business partners and partners in life. After meeting one fateful harvest season in 2006, they fell in love, got married, and eventually opened their own winery in 2017. Even the fact that Gomez was from California and Taribó was from Spain couldn't stop them. In choosing a name for their business, they landed on Camins 2 Dreams, a reflection of their journey together, as the word camins means roads in Taribó's native Catalan.

The winery collaborates exclusively with vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, which are sustainable, organic, biodynamic, and regenerative. "We have such a great respect for the land, which is why we work with certified vineyards whose focus is not only on caring for the land, but also caring for their workers, and the environment," Gomez tells us. "All of our wines are made with native yeast, focussing on low intervention, natural winemaking" in order to let the grapes shine. You can try their creations first-hand at their Lompoc tasting room where you'll be able to sample the winery's staples, namely Syrah, Rosé of Syrah, and Grüner Veltliner. Uniquely, you can also book a private virtual wine tasting with the winemakers themselves and learn about five different wines (which they'll ship to your door!) with their guidance.

Dutcher Crossing Winery (Sonoma County)

Debra Mathy, owner of Geyserville, California's Dutcher Crossing Winery, first discovered her passion for wine during a fateful trip to France. Following her father's sage advice –- "Nothing is ever unattainable" -– she jumped all in and, in 2007, bought Dutcher Crossing. Initially, the winery produced just five wines on 25 acres, but these days, it's making over 30 varieties and has also grown in size to 75 acres.

Pay them a visit and you'll be able to admire the lush vineyards, catch a glimpse at the gorgeous 1900s farmhouse-style winery, and (the best part) taste some delicious wines. Diversity is the name of the game here and everyone is sure to find something they love. "Rather than focusing on one of two varietals or appellations, we work with vineyards across Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties to produce over 30 wines that reflect the best of these regions," Mathy tells us. Just a couple of staff picks include the 2019 Stuhlmuller Vineyard Chardonnay and 2017 Taylor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. As for how you enjoy them, that's entirely up to you. You can visit the tasting room, sip a glass over a picnic, or pull up a stool to the tasting bar for a chat. "We want our guests to feel like family and walk away with an experience they won't get anywhere else," says Mathy.

Handley Cellars (Mendocino County)

Founded in 1982 by winemaker Milla Handley, Handley Cellars is a family-owned organic winery in Philo, California. It's now in its second generation, but its mission remains the same: Craft wine that's unique to the soil and climate of the region. These days, it's Milla's daughter, Lulu Handley, who has the reins, but she's staying true to her mother's legacy. Having studied traditional, old-world farming in both Peru and Maine, Lulu is devoted to responsible, sustainable techniques and she puts all of that passion for the land into the 9,000 cases of wine she produces each year. "My mom and dad moved here to be able to live and make wine in a rural place, away from trends and cities and all the hubbub, and my mom always wanted to make wine that expressed the magic of this land and community," Lulu explains.

That starts with the fruit. Handley Estate Vineyard grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer grapes and the resulting wines do indeed reflect the region. "Handley Cellars has always been about connecting people to this beautiful place, Anderson Valley, through wine," Lulu notes. You can experience what she means first-hand by visiting the winery for a tasting, a tour, or an afternoon of both. Equally memorable is getting to see all of the fabulous folk art Lulu's grandfather, Ray Handley, collected from around the world. Bonus: Handley Cellars is both family and dog friendly.

Desparada Wines (San Luis Obispo County)

Desparada Wines owner and winemaker Vailia From likes taking risks and loves pushing boundaries. She spent nearly two decades working in the wine industry, touching all aspects of the business, from harvesting to importing to sales, before deciding to blaze her own path. In 2009, she founded Desparada Wines in Paso Robles, California, which crafts unique wines that follow tradition yet are like nothing you've tasted before. From works closely with over 17 vineyards along California's Central Coast to craft delicious wines like the 2021 Wayfinder Chardonnay made with grapes from both the Bien Nacido and Oliver's vineyards and the 2020 Sackcloth & Ashes made with four varietals from six vineyards in the area. "Desparada's mission is to make great, interesting wine," From tells us. "At the same time, we want to support and uplift our community, our families, our employees, and people of all genders and races to help the wine industry evolve and become more inclusive." And that's exactly what she's doing.

You can show your own support –- and taste some fabulous wines –- by visiting Desparada Wines' tasting room. Located in the charming warehouse district known as Tin City, it offers a 45-minute experience that includes both red and white wines and will let you taste the uniqueness yourself.

Breathless Wines (Sonoma County)

Calling all sparkling wine lovers! Healdsburg, California's Breathless Wines was founded in 2008 by sisters Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust, and Cynthia Faust and is exclusively devoted to crafting sparkling wines using the Méthode Champenoise. This traditional, manual, and time-consuming method is used to produce Champagne in its birthplace, the Champagne region of France. Working with winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster (their honorary fourth sister), the sisters use Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes to make award-winning wines, like their Blanc de Blancs from Sonoma County and Sparkling Moscato from the North Coast.

There's also another powerful woman whose zest for life infuses everything the winery does: the sisters' mother. "Breathless Wines is a unique and inspiring winery that celebrates the everyday, take-no-breath-for-granted mentality," Sharon tells us. "BreathIess was inspired by our mom who took no breath for granted and encouraged us, and all she connected with, to do the same."

Now, if you're eager to try their wines yourself, you can visit the tasting room and garden near ​​Healdsburg's town square and enjoy a glass, or opt for a full-out tasting. You can also book a 40-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the production facility or, perhaps the most fun, sign up for the Sabrage Experience and learn how to use an authentic saber to open a bottle of sparkling wine – just like Napoleon used to do.

Casa Dumetz Wines (Santa Barbara County)

Journalist-turned-winemaker Sonja Magdevski first began pursuing her passion for winemaking in 2004, but it wasn't until 2017 that the Casa Dumetz label was born. With a major focus on Pinot Noir, this spot produces wines that are wholly dedicated to different vineyards in California's Sta. Rita Hills. That being said, the label shook things up in 2020 by introducing it's very first Chardonnay made exclusively with grapes from the LaBarge Winery in Lompoc. What's more, Casa Dumetz Wines also has two additional labels under its umbrella: Clementine Carter and The Feminist Party. While the first shines a spotlight on Rhône varietals from Santa Barbara, namely Grenache and Mourvèdre, the latter is a multi-varietal blend that nods to the importance of working together. But despite their varying compositions, all three have the same overarching mission. "When we open a bottle of wine we are in community with everyone and everything that went into that bottle," Magdevski tells us. "Our goal is to foster these relationships by sharing wines made with the utmost integrity." Even more importantly, though, "Everyone is invited to the party, always."

Try some for yourself by visiting the tasting room in Los Alamos where you can enjoy a glass, a bottle, or a tasting flight. Uniquely, you'll also find their sister business, Babi's Beer Emporium, next door, serving up craft beer and tacos on the same outdoor patio.

Ser Winery (Santa Cruz County)

In Spanish, the word ser means to be and it's that notion which is at the crux of Ser Winery. Nicole Walsh does double duty as both owner and winemaker at this Aptos, California institution which opened in 2012 and strives to craft natural wines that expose the true personality and unique characteristics of each of the grapes used. "My winemaking philosophy involves minimal intervention allowing the wine to express itself and where it comes from," Walsh explains on her website. As she notes, there is a difference between being and existing and it's the prior she's interested in. "I am dedicated to preserving the isness of wine, to allow its true varietal expression and the place and time of its origins," she muses.

Working with a number of vineyards around the state, Ser Winery sources its fruits from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Cienega Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, and the Edna Valley. It then produces standouts like a limited edition 2020 Pinot Noir that's 100% made with grapes from the Rio del Mar Vineyard in Santa Cruz County and the 2020 Sparkling Rosé of Grenache made exclusively from grapes from the Loma del Rio Vineyard in Monterey. You can find your own favorite by visiting the Ser Winery tasting room, which is conveniently located in Aptos Village and features both a stylish interior setting and a sunny outdoor patio.

Aileron Estates (Napa County)

Aileron Estates is the very definition of a passion project. Founder Shannon O'Shaughnessy's family first moved from Minnesota to California in 1990 to work as grape growers and vintners. Just seven years later, they founded the O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery. Shannon helped build it from the ground up before going off to work for other wineries in a variety of fields, including distribution, sales, and brand consulting. One day, though, she decided it was time to follow her biggest dream and open her own winery. First up, she purchased a small Sauvignon Blanc vineyard along with her home in Coombsville, California in 2014. That was the official beginning of Aileron Estates. However, she wasn't quite done yet. Shannon added Cabernet Sauvignon from her family's Rancho Del Oso Vineyard (located in Howell Mountain) to the mix, then, in 2019, she expanded again. This time around, she bought Altimeter Vineyard on Atlas Peak, which also grows Cabernet Sauvignon, thus creating Aileron Estates as it is today.

You can book a tasting at the St. Helena property to discover the various wines on offer and perhaps be inspired to pursue your own dreams. Shannon, an avid pilot, chose the name aileron (a part of an airplane's wing that helps a pilot control the aircraft) because of the powerful message it holds. "In order to navigate the flight path of life, we all need an aileron," Shannon writes on her website. Hers guided her towards winemaking – who knows where yours will take you!

Theopolis Vineyards (Mendocino County)

Theodora R. Lee, who likes to go by the nickname Theo-patra, has a truly unique story. A senior partner and trial lawyer by day, she decided to follow her passion for wine and start a side hustle in 2003. That's when she founded Theopolis Vineyards in Yorkville, California and became the first Black woman to own a vineyard in Northern California.

After initially supplying grapes to other winemakers, Lee decided to give winemaking a try and discovered she had a natural knack for it. These days, Theopolis Vineyards produces an award-winning Petite Sirah and Rosé of Petite Sirah, which are both entirely grown on the estate, while also bottling a number of other wines, like an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, a Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir, and a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. As Lee once told Essence, her love of the land runs deep. "My grandfather was a sharecropper, so my dad believed in land ownership," she said. "We spent our weekends at the farm building barns, herding cattle, fishing, gardening, and riding horses – farming is in my blood."

While there's no permanent tasting room to visit, Theopolis Vineyards does organize some seriously fabulous experiences throughout the year, like the harvest and bottle release party held right at the vineyard in September. Lee also spearheads amazing off-site events. In 2023, for example, she signed up to host a 7-night "Essence of Burgundy and Provence" river cruise in France.