The oldest wineries in California that are still in operation

One of the many things California is known for is its wine culture. 

There are vineyards planted all across the Golden State, and while visiting them for tastings may be a relatively new California pastime, the tradition of winemaking practically dates back to California’s founding.

Here are California’s five oldest wineries that are still operating. 

Schramsberg Vineyards

Established in 1862, Schramsberg Vineyards is the fifth-oldest winery in California and is located in Calistoga in Napa Valley. 

According to the vineyard’s website, the winery’s 200-acre property was purchased by Jacob Schram from the government. After purchasing the property, he began developing the area into hillside vineyards, and by 1870, Schramsberg had over 30,000 vines. 

Later, Napa’s first hillside caves for wine aging and storage were dug by Chinese laborers at the vineyard, according to Schramsberg’s website. The winery ceased operations in 1912 and was sold. 

After not operating for 45 years, the winery was declared a historical monument by the California Historical Society in 1957. The winery would be revitalized in 1965 when Jack and Jamie Davies purchased the property.

The winery is still operated by the Davies family after Jack Davies died in 1998 and Jamie Davies passed away in 2008. 

Charles Krug

The fourth-oldest winery in California is Charles Krug in St. Helena. The Napa County winery was established in 1861 by its namesake, who later opened the first public tasting room in California in 1882, according to the winery’s website. 

The winery later changed in the 20th century when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi bought the 147-acre property in 1943.

Legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi, the son of Cesare and Rosa, started his wine career at Charles Krug, and his brother Peter Mondavi Sr. was involved with the winery. 

Robert Mondavi eventually left Charles Krug and established his own winery in 1966 in Napa Valley.  

Hendry

The third-oldest winery in California is Hendry in Napa, which was established in 1859 by Frederick and John Sigrist, according to the winery’s website.

Portions of what is known today as Hendry Ranch were some of the first vineyards planted in Napa, according to the winery’s website.

The ranch changed ownership by 1880 with George Barth and John Buhman running operations. The late 1880s had a planting boom, but that was followed by a devastating slump and an infestation of an insect called phylloxera, which feeds on grapevine roots. Another issue Hendry ran into was prohibition.  

George Hendry, who was running the ranch in the 1970s, built a reservoir and replanted most of the ranch to the vineyard. 

“Some of these plantings returned vineyard to land that had been fallow for nearly 100 years,” the winery’s website said. 

The winery has been owned by the Hendry family for eight decades and has been managed by Mike Hendry since January 2001, the winery’s website said. 

Buena Vista Winery

The second-oldest winery in California is Buena Vista Winery just outside of Sonoma. It was founded by “Count” Agoston Haraszthy in 1857, according to Sonoma County’s website.

According to the county’s website, Haraszthy was a farmer and is considered the father of California viticulture. The original winery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Sonoma County and California Historical Landmark.

The historical winery is currently owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, who bought the property in 2011. According to an article on the Sonoma County website, Boisset first visited Buena Vista at 11 with his family, owners of Boisset Family Estates. 

“I fell in love with Buena Vista,” he said on the Sonoma County website. “I always remembered this beautiful place.” 

D’Agostini Winery

The oldest winery in California is D’Agostini Winery in the Amador County town of Plymouth. 

According to the California Office of Historic Preservation, D’Agostini Winery was founded in 1856 by Adam Uhlinger, a Swiss immigrant.

The OHP said the original wine cellar, with walls made from rock quarried from nearby hills, hand-hewn beams, and oak casks, is part of the present winery. Some of its original vines are still in production.

The winery is currently owned by Sobon Estate Winery, and the original winery is registered as a California Historical Landmark. 

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