Small Towns, Big Wines

Dive into California's Top Coastal Wine and Travel Secrets!

Raise a glass to paradise. These 5 California coastal wine villages are too incredible to miss! Savor big wines with small town charm this September Wine Month on Highway 1. This iconic California scenic route is one of a kind, delivering top wines and ocean views in one jaw-dropping destination. Discover an unbelievable oasis of enchanting coastal communities along Highway 1, all in shockingly close proximity—perfect for day trippers on the go. Along the way, find dreamy, uncrowded tasting rooms you simply must experience to believe. Dying to uncover coastal California’s most prized wine tasting gems? We don’t blame you. Ditch the lines, the traffic and the noise. Authentic vibes, award-winning wines and stunning coastal vistas await wanderers and wine enthusiasts alike. This September, embark on a coastal wine adventure that will leave you absolutely speechless!

Hearst Ranch Winery wine tasting

1. San Simeon: History Meets Coastal Beauty

Experience award-winning wines, unbeatable ocean views and famous Hearst Castle in San Simeon, a top Highway 1 destination. Folks from around the world flock to San Simeon to tour Hearst Castle’s unrivaled collection of historic art, lavish pools and impressive architecture. But did you know San Simeon is also regarded as one of the most stunning coastal wine communities in California? Now you know! Coastal elegance meets wine excellence at Hearst Ranch Winery, where pours of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are enjoyed alongside crashing ocean waves. With expansive views of the Pacific, seaside picnic tables and premium wine selections, this unique San Simeon tasting room offers up one of the most coveted wine tasting experiences on the entire California coast. Plus, you can easily grab lunch from nearby Sebastian’s Cafe or the onsite Cruiser Food Truck, well stocked with gourmet eats. More wine, waves and flavor for you!

Stolo Vineyards Winery

2. Cambria: Toast to Tranquility and Moonstones

Discover Cambria’s enchanting mix of wine, art and beach culture when you hit Highway 1 in search of the best coastal wine tasting rooms. Known for Moonstone Beach, where shimmering moonstones dot the sand, this hidden wine tasting oasis offers incredible epicurean experiences alongside art galleries and famous olallieberry pie. At Stolo Vineyards, taste vibrant Cambria wines grown less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean. This breezy coastal tasting room features a lush, grassy lawn perfect for picnics and festive events (check the winery calendar for details). In case you were wondering: yes, you can absolutely taste the difference the ocean influence makes on coastal wine! Stolo’s beachy vineyards thrive in Cambria’s unique microclimate, producing unmatched coastal-style chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer, pinot noir and syrah. Don’t forget to greet the tasting room’s onsite goat while you sip, swirl and soak in the sun. Tip: Head to Cambria’s West Village for even more awesome tasting rooms, including Black Hand, Moonstone Cellars and Cutruzzola Vineyards. You’ll also find wine tasting and light fare served oceanside at Madeline’s on Moonstone restaurant.

3. Harmony: California's Tiniest Town with Big Character

A quaint storybook town miniaturized on the California Coast, Harmony is a hidden Highway 1 destination with big, bold wine offerings. Don’t blink as you pass through Highway 1 from Cambria to Cayucos—you might miss the famous sign for Harmony, CA (population 18, if you count the cows). Explore remarkable wines—including zinfandel, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and pinot gris—from Harmony Cellars’ hilltop tasting room. Perched above rolling coastal terrain, you might have landed between the pages of a wine-centric fantasy novel! Catch one of Harmony Cellars’ twilight events perfectly timed with a blazing Central Coast sunset (year-round happenings include food trucks, winemaker dinners and more). Afterward, be sure to explore the charming streets of Harmony below, home to glass blowers and gift shop, tiny post office, working wedding chapel and whimsical framed selfie spot. No doubt about it: you’ll come away with a larger-than-life appreciation for this small yet mighty wine oasis.

Kelsey See Canyon peacock
Photo credit: @the12thchild

4. Avila Beach Wine Trail: A Coastal Wine Adventure

If the idea of wine tasting amid hot springs and a white sands has you jumping in the driver’s seat: stay tuned! Avila Beach’s wine trail is full of natural wonders. Meandering through apple orchards and coastal vineyards, experience a forest-to-sea excursion with plenty of delightful surprises in store. At Kelsey See Canyon Winery in Avila Beach, peacocks roam freely among the vines—a fantastical backdrop for sun dappled outdoor seating. Known locally for producing refreshing “hot tub wines,” including apple-chardonnay and apple-rose hybrids, you’ll also find top shelf cabernet sauvignon, grenache blanc, zinfandel and barrel aged cider, too. What’s more: this otherworldly wine trail offers more than meets the eye, including a variety of beachy-keen wine tasting rooms, hillside hot tubs and friendly farm animals ready for feeding time at Avila Valley Barn. Tip: Hit the Avila Beach Promenade for even more flavorful experiences: Find stellar coastal tasting rooms a short stroll from the pier’s historic planks, including Pierfront Wine & Brew, Peloton Cellars and others.

Sextant Wine Tasting Room Edna Valley

5. Edna Valley: Cool Climate Wines and Vines

Cruise through iconic Edna Valley on the California coast and experience the closest thing to entering a real life “Wish You Were Here” postcard. Flanked by gently undulating hills and expansive vineyards, this exceptionally scenic coastal wine trail showcases the best of SLO Coast wines’ cool climate varietals, including world famous chardonnay and pinot noir sure to impress even the most well-traveled wine enthusiasts. With more than two dozen distinct wine tasting rooms in the Edna Valley region, it’s easy to find a cozy spot to relax after an eventful day road tripping along Highway 1. Be sure to pay a visit to iconic Sextant Wines, home to a gourmet deli serving delicious grab-and-go fare with a side of local history. Adjacent to the Old Edna Townsite, seamlessly venture from this celebrated Edna Valley tasting room into California’s pioneering past. Of course, you can also hit the beach, as well-balanced Edna Valley wines are grown just a few miles from the Pacific. Tip: Looking to enjoy the view? Play a game of bocce ball at Baileyana and Tangent Wines or claim your own outdoor table at Biddle Ranch Vineyard, the perfect location for a wine country picnic.

More to Explore

Paso Robles Wine Region: Bold wines nearby

With legendary wines that buck the status quo, nearby Paso Robles combines cowboy grit with wine country grace. Home to 250+ wine tasting rooms, find diverse wine experiences tucked along dusty, oak-studded backroads and rolling green hills. Sample iconic reds, including robust Rhône and Bordeaux style wines, all with a side of famous Paso Robles hospitality. Stunning scenery abounds at hilltop tasting room DAOU Vineyards & Winery, find elevated experiences and luxury vineyard stays at Halter Ranch Vineyard and JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery (also home to a Michelin star restaurant). Meanwhile, Cass Winery’s Camp Cass encourages visitors to hop on an ebike, take a swing at ax throwing or gallop on horseback through the vines. Whether you venture forth into the pristine beauty of this wild and wondrous wine region or head downtown for epic selfie spots, you’re sure to come away with a sense of this top wine region’s universal appeal. Truly, there’s countless incredible things to do in Paso Robles Wine Country.

The Culinary Connection: Exploring Local Flavors

Looking for the best coastal dining experiences along Highway 1? When it comes to wine tasting on the coast, food elevates the whole experience to new levels of yum. Discover incredible coastal California restaurants spanning every craving and appetite. From farm-to-table eateries serving up the freshest local produce to stellar seafood plated just steps from the sea, you’ll savor coastal California’s most fantastic flavor possibilities. Find family friendly diners, classic steak houses, quick cafes and vegan and vegetarian fare all awaiting your order. No one stays hungry on Highway 1.

Wine Tasting at Talley Vineyards

Beyond Wine Tasting

Immersive experiences abound along Highway 1’s stunning coastal wine route. Don’t miss out on these thrilling excursions located nearby the best California coast tasting rooms. From Clydesdale riding in Cambria and elephant seal viewing in San Simeon to kayaking out and back to a historic lighthouse in Avila Beach, each wine tasting destination along Highway 1 boasts its own unforgettable assets. Explore tidepools and a shipwreck in Cayucos or explore celebrated vintage shops in the Village of Arroyo Grande. Wine tasting may be the reason you arrived on the California coast, but it sure won’t be the only adventure you’ll embark on!

See you out there

Now that we’ve unveiled the secrets to Highway 1’s best small towns with big wine experiences, you’re well on your way to tasting the California coast in all its delicious glory. Highway 1 is here to satisfy your own distinct palate preferences: there’s truly a wine tasting experience for all, whether you come solo, with friends or have kiddos and dog in tow. Embark on your own coastal wine tasting adventure today and find out for yourself just how relaxing, satisfying and special coastal California’s wine havens can be. Looking for more help in planning your Highway 1 coastal wine getaway? We’re here to help.