Way back in Palomares Canyon (just west of Pleasanton), Chouinard Winery offers a special wine-tasting experience that’s a throwback to simpler times. The Chouinards have been making wine since the early ’80s, and their experience shows in the quality of their craft. Their old vine zin is a Weekend Sherpa favorite (and even won a Best in Show at the state fair), but what makes Chouinard’s wine even more prize-worthy is…well, the vintners themselves. George and Caroline Chouinard welcome you to their upstairs tasting room in a big red barn, pour the vino themselves, and regale you with wine tales. Keeping it in the family, their son, Damian, is the winemaker who’s even come up with such creative vintages as their signature Granny Smith Apple Wine (a sip a day keeps the doctor away…). On New Year’s Day, the winery will be serving French Onion Soup and homemade bread during their annual open house. The soup is said to bring good fortune in the New Year. Sip—and slurp—to your health!
TIP: Just down Palomares Road from Chouinard’s is Westover Vineyards. With over 20 ports, this is the place to go for those who like the sweeter side of the vine.
Chouinard Winery, 33853 Palomares Rd., Castro Valley: 510-582-9900. Tastings are complimentary. Westover Vineyards, 34329 Palomares Rd., Castro Valley; 510-537-3932. Tastings are $5 per person (waived with a purchase). Both Chouindard and Westover tasting rooms are open from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.