San Francisco and Bay Area Wine Tasting Events: 10 Top Annual Events

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: August 10, 2023

These Bay Area and San Francisco wine tasting events offer you the chance to sample amazing wines from local regions such as Napa and Sonoma. You will also find some great events with top wines from around the world. 

Events range from the large Chronicle Wine Competition and the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting, which offer a full range of wines, to events like the ZinEX Festival that focuses on just one varietal, in this case the local California Zinfandel. 

My list features events in SF, around the SF Bay, and in Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey.

A wine I recently sampled at a wine event from Santa Ynez Valley.

Below you will find a complete list of annual festivals. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. Chronicle Wine Competition

Location: San Francisco

Timing: February

One of the most talked-about San Francisco wine tasting events is the Chronicle Wine Competition held annually at the Festival Pavilion in the Fort Mason Center. It is the largest competition of American wines in the world. 

Each year, they select winners from among more than 7,000 entries in more than a hundred categories. The wines are submitted and tasted in January, with the winners being announced a few weeks before the public tasting event.

>> Click here for more details

2. Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

Location: San Francisco

Timing: October

Every October, Wine & Spirits magazine hosts their Top 100 Tasting event in the heart of San Francisco. The event features wineries from around the world with the best overall tasting ratings from the publication throughout the year.

This annual event not only honors these top 100 wineries, but also the Bay Area's top restaurants. It's the perfect event for both wine and food lovers!

The event takes place at City View at the Metreon from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Tickets include a complimentary tasting glass and a one-year subscription to Wine & Spirits magazine. 

3. ZinEX Festival

Location: San Francisco

Timing: Late January or early February

This fun three-day event is unique in that it features a single grape varietal, the classic California Zinfandel. The wine and food extravaganza is hosted by the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers group. 

The ZinEX event takes place in late January or early February every year, and will now take place at the Pavilion at One Market across from the Ferry Building. 

>> Find additional event details for this year 

4. Passport to Dry Creek Valley

Location: Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley

Timing: April

Since 1990, each year in Sonoma County, over 30 wineries participate in a huge tasting event called the Passport to Dry Creek Valley. Take advantage of the beautiful springtime weather to hop from one vineyard to another as you take in the sweeping valley views. 

While touring the various participating wineries, you not only get to sample some of the best wines in the region, but you get to enjoy them with food pairings and live entertainment by local artists. 

The festival takes place over one weekend in April so you can make the most out of three full days in the valley.

>> Visit their site to learn more and buy tickets

>> Find additional great wine regions around SF and Northern California

5. Taste of Sonoma

Location: Sonoma County

Timing: June

Taste of Sonoma is an annual wine and food festival at the beautiful Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens.

This outdoor summer event offers a jam-packed day of wine tasting, gourmet delights from food trucks, garden tours, wine seminars, themed lounges, and more. 

Here, you'll get the chance to mingle with winemakers in a more intimate setting. It is a premier event for vintners from all over Sonoma county, as well as wine enthusiasts and anyone looking to discover the best this region has to offer. 

>> Find out more about this year's event

6. Barrel Auction Weekend

Location: Napa Valley

Timing: Late May or early June

Each summer, the Collective Napa Valley hosts a wine-filled weekend of exclusive experiences that benefit local non-profits serving children. This organization is a group of passionate philanthropists who believe in giving back to the community.

At the Barrel Auction, you'll get the chance to taste wines directly from the barrel from 75 local vintners, along with bites from renowned Napa Valley restaurants and beats from local musicians. 

In addition to the auction itself, the Barrel Auction Weekend consists of several private winery-hosted events, "Vineyard Walks and Wine Talks," a bike ride along the Napa Valley Vine Trail, dining around town, and a community celebration. 

>> Read more about the weekend's activities

7. Monterey Wine Festival

Location: Monterey

Timing: June

The Monterey Wine Festival is a fun weekend not just for those who love wine, but who are also interested in trying a variety of beers and spirits and other tasty bites.

This event honors the winners of various wine competitions, but it also offers fun activities like the Chowdah Challenge, where local restaurants compete with innovative seafood creations, and "The Big Board," which offers a selection of international and gourmet cheeses. 

The festival has been running for 45 years. It usually takes place in June, and a trip down to Monterey makes for a relaxing summer weekend along the coast.  

>> See what to expect at this year's festival

8. Food & Wine Affair

Location: Sonoma County

Timing: November

At the annual Food & Wine Affair in Sonoma County, you get the chance to enjoy food and wine pairings at up to five wineries per day for two days.

Participating wineries publish their special menu so you can plan out your gourmet pairings adventure ahead of time. You can purchase a full-weekend ticket, or Sunday-only.

The nice thing about this event is that, unlike many of the other San Francisco wine tasting festivals that occur in the summer months, this one takes place in November, giving you an autumn view of the valley's beautiful landscape. 

>> Read about the participating wineries and more

9. North Coast Wine & Food Festival

Location: Santa Rosa

Timing: June

The North Coast Wine & Food Festival is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in June at the beautiful Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. 

The event features delicious bites from 25 of the region's top chefs and 90 gold medal-winning wines from the North Coast Wine Challenge.

The festival offers fun, modern features including live music and tasting stations for caviar, donuts, and grilled cheese.

>> Explore the event details on their website

10. Monterey Winemakers Celebration 

Location: Monterey

Timing: May or June

This annual festival takes place in the quaint coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's hosted by the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, which represents over 65 winemakers in Monterey County.

At this annual event, you get the unique chance to taste wines from this stunning coastal region of California, which are distinct from the wines that people often seek in Napa and Sonoma counties. 

>> Learn more and get tickets

Hotel Savings: Are you looking for the best deals on places to stay near these wine festivals? If so, then check out the special offers for San Francisco hotels on TripAdvisor. You can save on your room rate, get free parking, and more. Click here to find the best deals today!

Wine Bar Recommendations: If you are looking for a great wine bar, then check out these San Francisco wine bar recommendations. They are spread throughout the city and offer a large selection of wines by the glass. Several also offer special selection nights, where you can sample wines from a specific region or of a certain variety.

Top SF Bars: Find recommendations for some of the best bars around the city. There are so many to choose from in a city such as San Francisco, but these are ten of my all time favorites.

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