10 Best Chardonnay Wines in California (2022)

10 Best Chardonnay Wines In California Featured

Super Versatile

Chardonnay is a diverse grape varietal with flavors ranging from citrus and green fruits to butter, smoke, and cinnamon spice. What’s more, the Chardonnay grape is the second most popular grape in California, after Cabernet Sauvignon. But why is it so popular among wine fans and connoisseurs? That’s simple: Because of its versatility. California has a diverse range of climates and elevations, meaning grape growers can grow Chardonnay under different conditions.

This enables the production of Chardonnays with unique flavors and aromas. Also, Chardonnay is adaptable to soil types, meaning it’s an easy-growing variety, too. Originally, California Chardonnay was known for being buttery and oaky, but this has changed over time. Today, more Chardonnays focus on balance, crispness, and fruitiness than ever before. Our list includes the best Californian Chardonnay, from crisp to heavily oaked, and will satisfy the taste buds of all wine enthusiasts. What is the best Chardonnay in California? Let’s find out!


Best Overall Best Value Best Cheap Under $10 Best Under $15 Best Under $20 Best Under $25 Best Under $30 Best Under $50 Best Under $100 Best With Unlimited Budget
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Name Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay Raeburn Chardonnay Goldschmidt Vineyards Singing Tree Chardonnay Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay Bread & Butter Chardonnay Stags’ Leap Chardonnay The Prisoner The Snitch Chardonnay Far Niente Chardonnay Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons
Color White White White White White White White White White White
Country United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States
Grapes Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay
Taste Guava, Lemongrass, Pineapple, Ginger, Apple, Tangerine, Lemon Curb, Pear, Meyer Lemon Grapefruit, Passion Fruit, Apricot, Toasted Oak, Caramel, Butterscotch, Cinnamon Spice Fig, Honey, Grapefruit, Cream, Pineapple, Pear, Crushed Stones Lime, Lemon Blossom, Green Herbs, Pineapple, Guava, Nutmeg, Butter Pineapple, Apricot, Passion Fruit, Flint, Wet Stone, Cinnamon Spice, Grapefruit Toasted Bread, Butter, Cream, Pineapple, Guava, Allspice, Paraffin Wax Grapefruit, Cherry, Orange Blossom, Brioche Bread, Smoke Peach, Honeydew, Pineapple, Charred Wood, Crushed Stone Lemon Curd, Apple, Toast, Cream, Butter, Orange Zest, Pepper Sea Salt, Ginger, White Pepper, Guava, Cordial, Flint, Lime, Passion Fruit, Peach
Food Pairing Chicken Alfredo, Halibut, Red Snapper, Pork Chops, Pungent Blue, Romanian Telemea Lobster Roll, Red Snapper, Grilled Calamari, Pappardelle Lobster, Brie Seafood, Roast Shellfish, Roast Chicken, Foie Gras Oysters, Crab Cake, Sea Bass, Risotto With Vegetables, Salmon Fried Chicken, Seafood, Halibut, Pan-seared Salmon, English Cheddar Turbot, Halibut, Steak Béarnaise, Foie Gas, Spiced Salads Salmon, Sea Bass, Pappardelle Lobster, Fried Chicken, Camembert, Roquefort Turbot, Chicken, Ham, Salad With Nuts And Buttery Sauce, Veal Chops With Mushrooms Cod, Shrimp, Scallops, Toasted Nuts, Pastry Crust, Risotto Scallops, Fish And Chips, King Crab, Chestnuts, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes
Alcohol Content 14.4% 14.5% 13.9% 13.5% 13.5% 14.2% 14.5% 14.3% 13.6% 15.2%
Sugar Content Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry
Our Rating 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5) 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5) 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5) 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5) 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5) 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5) 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
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Best Chardonnay Wines in California

Best Overall

  • Name — Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay
  • Winery — Rombauer Vineyards
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley, Los Carneros
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Honeysuckle, Grapefruit, Orange Blossom, Peach, Jasmine
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Guava, Lemongrass, Pineapple, Ginger, Apple, Tangerine, Lemon Curb, Pear, Meyer Lemon
  • Alcohol Content — 14.4%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Chicken Alfredo, Halibut, Red Snapper, Pork Chops, Pungent Blue, Romanian Telemea
Overall Rating: 4.9

Positives
  • Welcoming Aromas
  • Complex Palate
  • Zippy Acidity
Negatives
  • Might Be Too Heavy For Some Palates

Tasting Notes

On the nose, the wine shows beautiful aromas of yellow peach, lemon, and white flowers, as well as hints of vanilla spice. The palate is rich and concentrated and presents flavors of citrus fruits and tropical fruit. Balanced acidity and lingering finish. Rising from the glass, you find the aromas of peaches, lemons, chamomile, raspberries, cloves, and vanilla spice.

These notes continue onto the palate, which is rich and mouthwatering. In fact, the flavors of grapefruit, lemons, peaches, pineapples, and mangoes contribute to the richness. The back of the palate is packed with sweet fruit flavors, while the acidity is balanced and uplifting. Lingering aftertaste.

A Family-owned Winery

Rombauer Vineyard is Napa Valley-based and family-owned. It was founded by Koerner and Joan Rombauer in 1980. The winery maintains sustainable farms of over 670 acres of vineyards in some of the best regions of California. Their signature varieties are Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc.


Best Value

  • Name – Raeburn Chardonnay
  • Winery — Raeburn
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Apple, Peach, Nectarine, Jasmine
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Grapefruit, Passion Fruit, Apricot, Toasted Oak, Caramel, Butterscotch, Cinnamon Spice
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Lobster Roll, Red Snapper, Grilled Calamari, Pappardelle Lobster, Brie
Overall Rating: 4.5

Positives
  • Pronounced Aromas
  • Creamy On The Palate
  • Refreshing Acidity
Negatives
  • Acidity Can Be A Bit Overwhelming

Tasting Notes

A distinct Chardonnay with a floral profile. Aromas of honeysuckle and apple create an irresistible bouquet. The palate has a toasty note and tastes of tropical fruit mixed with crème brûlée and lemon sorbet. Good aftertaste. Apples, peaches, lemon curd, apricots, and honeysuckle aromas define this Chardonnay bouquet, adding plenty of fruity notes.

Now, as the wine enters the mouth, tastes of crème brûlée, pineapples, mangoes, lemons, apricots, and lemon sorbet emerge. The tasting profile concludes in a medium finish where elements of charred wood emerge. Moderate acidity.

Growing Some of the Best Burgudina Grapes

Raeburn lies in the heart of the Russian River Valley and cultivates some of the best Burgundy grapes of California. Originally, the winery was built as an egg storage facility, yet it was converted to a small production wine estate in 2000 by Cecil DeLoach, an iconic Sonoma County vintner.


Best Cheap Under $10

  • Name — Goldschmidt Vineyards Singing Tree Chardonnay
  • Winery — Goldschmidt Vineyards
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Peach, Melon, Pineapple, Honeysuckle, Apple, Nectarine, Earth
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Fig, Honey, Grapefruit, Cream, Pineapple, Pear, Crushed Stones
  • Alcohol Content — 13.9%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Seafood, Roast Shellfish, Roast Chicken, Foie Gras
Overall Rating: 4.3

Positives
  • Attractive Aromas
  • Refreshing Acidity
  • Lingering Finish
Negatives
  • Slightly Sour

Tasting Notes

A well-balanced Chardonnay that displays fragrant aromas of white peaches, melons, apricots, and nectarines. The complexity continues onto the palate, where flavors of peaches, figs, citrus, and honey create a creamy structure. Salty minerality graces the long finish. This is an attractive and balanced Chardonnay with beautiful aromas and flavors of peaches, melons, pineapples, nectarines, and earth elements.

The flavors are intense, as tastes of figs, honey, citrus, and cream give substance to the wine’s palate. A firm structure characterizes this Chardonnay, which many wine enthusiasts appreciate. Last but not least, a salty minerality defines the long finish, as the moderate acidity refreshes the taste buds.

Winemaking With High-Quality Grapes

Goldschmidt Vineyards focuses on sourcing high-quality grapes that grow in optimum soil conditions and show a balance of nutrients. These clay components play a big role in creating juicy and flavorful grapes, as they can retain water, increasing flavor concentration. These grapes come from the two prestigious Northern California vineyards, Vyborny Vineyard, located on a slope in Alexander Valley, and Game Ranch, located on a river bottom in Silverado Trail. The result? Exceptional wines.


Best Under $15

  • Name — Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
  • Winery — Kendall-Jackson
  • Country/Region — United States, California
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Pineapple, Mango, Papaya, Grapefruit, Lemon, Vanilla Spice, Honey, Butter, Melon
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Lime, Lemon Blossom, Green Herbs, Pineapple, Guava, Nutmeg, Butter
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Oysters, Crab Cake, Sea Bass, Risotto With Vegetables, Salmon
Overall Rating: 4.4

Positives
  • Racy Acidity
  • Long Finish
  • Structured Palate
Negatives
  • Intense Butter Flavor

Tasting Notes

Beautifully integrated flavors of tropical fruits and citrus define this wine, which is explosive. Elements of charred wood and butter culminate in a lingering finish. Medium-high acidity. One of the top-rated Chardonnay wines in California. The nose shows the aromas of pineapples, mangoes, and papayas, as well as citrus notes of grapefruits and lemons.

Now, these aromas lead to a fulfilling mouth of vanilla spice, honey, butter, charred wood, and melons. Flavors of limes, lemon blossoms, and green herbs are distinguishable, too, creating balance and depth throughout. Nutmeg touches combine with toasted oak notes as they drive to a long and lingering aftertaste. Racy acidity.

The World’s Largest Barrel-Fermentation Project

Kendall-Jackson farms over 5,000 acres of vineyards in California’s coastal regions, creating high-quality wines and housing possibly the world’s largest barrel-fermentation project. No matter how large the amount of wines produced, though, Kendall-Jackson remains a family-owned winery committed to winemaking excellence.


Best Under $20

  • Name — Bread & Butter Chardonnay
  • Winery — Bread & Butter
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Peach, Mango, Honeysuckle, Caramel, Vanilla Spice, Crème Brûlée
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Pineapple, Apricot, Passion Fruit, Flint, Wet Stone, Cinnamon Spice, Grapefruit
  • Alcohol Content — 13.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Fried Chicken, Seafood, Halibut, Pan-seared Salmon, English Cheddar
Overall Rating: 4.5

Positives
  • Powerful Bouquet
  • Bright, Uplifting Minerality
  • Well-integrated Oak Notes
Negatives
  • A Bit Too Sweet

Tasting Notes

Bread & Butter wines celebrate the natural beauty and diversity of California vineyards. This Chardonnay tries to do just that. Packed with ripe nectarines, apricots, apples, and vanilla spice, this wine is full-bodied and creamy. Apricots, nectarines, honeysuckle, green and yellow apples, and vanilla spice notes grace the bouquet. Wine fans can also notice rich notes of crème brûlée, tropical fruits, and crushed stones.

The palate syncs with the nose, as juicy tastes of citrus, stone fruits, and tropicals produce a powerful and delicious result. Elements of vanilla bean and nuts are discernible, too, and add depth and complexity. The finish is medium and creamy, packed with oak influences. Moderate acidity refreshes the mouth.

Masters of the Burgundy Varieties

Bread & Butter wines show the diverse terroirs of Napa Valley and California. Their vines take advantage of the morning mists of the Pacific Ocean, the fog that rolls in beyond the hills, and the sunshine to produce grapes of concentrated flavor. Bread & Butter signature wines are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; in other words, the winery has mastered the Burgundy varieties.


Best Under $25

  • Name — Stags’ Leap Chardonnay
  • Winery — Stags’ Leap
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Grapefruit, Lime, Orange Blossom, Honeysuckle, Peach, Brioche Bread
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Toasted Bread, Butter, Cream, Pineapple, Guava, Allspice, Paraffin Wax
  • Alcohol Content — 14.2%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Turbot, Halibut, Steak Béarnaise, Foie Gas, Spiced Salads
Overall Rating: 4.6

Positives
  • Bright Bouquet
  • Flavorful
  • Crispy
Negatives
  • A Bit Bitter

Tasting Notes

A boisterous nose invites wine enthusiasts in with aromas of citrus, orange blossoms, peaches, and honeysuckle. The tastes of brioche, butter, and guavas are backed up by a luscious texture that’s balanced and rich. Medium-to-full body, moderate acidity, and medium finish. The bouquet is bright and packed with scents of grapefruit, limes, orange and lemon blossoms, honeysuckle, and delicate touches of peaches.

These aromas are supported by notes of brioche and Tarte Tatin. In the mouth, you can taste flavors of toasted bread, butter, cream, pineapples, guavas, and warm hints of allspice and paraffin wax. The crispiness is prevalent, too, as the moderate acidity refreshes the mouth. Medium but savory finish.

An Old and Respected Napa Valley Winery

Stags’ Leap is one of the oldest Napa Valley wineries, housing a renowned country resort. In the mid-20th century, the wine estate was popular among Hollywood actors and was filled with legends of gangsters and bootleggers. Yet, since the 1970s, the family who runs the winery has attempted to modernize the winery. It’s known for its high-quality and expressive wines reminiscent of Napa Valley’s terroir.


Best Under $30

  • Name — The Prisoner The Snitch Chardonnay
  • Winery — The Prisoner
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Apple, Pear, Meyer Lemon, Violet, Honeysuckle, Pineapple, Mango
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Grapefruit, Cherry, Orange Blossom, Brioche Bread, Smoke
  • Alcohol Content — 14.5%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Salmon, Sea Bass, Pappardelle Lobster, Fried Chicken, Camembert, Roquefort
Overall Rating: 4.7

Positives
  • Uplifting Fragrances
  • Smooth Texture
  • Tasty Palate With Great Depth
  • Balanced
Negatives
  • Slightly Weird Aftertaste

Tasting Notes

The Prisoner winery takes a fresh approach to traditional grape varieties, including Chardonnay. The result is a bright, rich wine that’s highly aromatic (thanks to the Viognier in the blend), perfect for enjoying with grilled seafood. One of the best-selling Chardonnay wines in California. Aromas of honeysuckle and lemon blossoms grace one’s nose as they take a whiff, followed by nuances of green fruits, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and peaches.

The palate is what you would expect – fruity and refreshing. Tastes of citrus and stone fruits dominate, although subtle touches of vanilla spice and nuts exist, too. Some notes of flowers, herbs, and cream add structure, while the medium finish is peach-driven. Refreshing acidity.

Grapes From Diverse Vineyards

The Prisoner Wine Company collects grapes from more than 100 vineyards in California and partners with high-end growers passionate about cultivating unique grape varieties. This way, the winery produces wines that are accessible to everyone and also have enough complexity to satisfy the most demanding taste buds.


Best Under $50

  • Name — Far Niente Chardonnay
  • Winery — Far Niente
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Peach, Nectarine, Apricot, Guava, Vanilla Spice, Citrus Zest
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Peach, Honeydew, Pineapple, Charred Wood, Crushed Stone
  • Alcohol Content — 14.3%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Turbot, Chicken, Ham, Salad With Nuts And Buttery Sauce, Veal Chops With Mushrooms
Overall Rating: 4.8

Positives
  • Good Depth
  • Racy Acidity
  • Rich Aftertaste
Negatives
  • Just A Little Bit Acidic

Tasting Notes

Oaky with bright acidity, Far Niente Chardonnay opens with aromas of honeysuckle, peach blossoms, and citrus zest. Some accents of vanilla exist, as well, adding silkiness. The palate is rounded with a cool minerality and a citrus note. Captivating finish that has depth and intensity.

The wine begins with aromas of peach blossoms, nectarines, apricots, and guavas, as well as notes of citrus zest and vanilla. Silky tastes of stone fruits, honeydew, pineapple, and charred wood flow across the palate, and touches of crusted stones add texture and depth. The racy acidity refreshes the mid-palate, while the integrated wood notes contribute to the lasting richness.

Passionate Winemaking

Far Niente has mastered every part of winemaking. It sources grapes from high-end Napa Valley vineyards and, with precise vinification, produces luxury Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Chardonnay wines. Their refined wines are consistent and representative of their house style. For these reasons, wine critics praise them.


Best Under $100

  • Name — Chateau Montelena Chardonnay
  • Winery — Chateau Montelena
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Apricot, Peach, Grapefruit, Honeydew, Rose Water, Cinnamon Spice, Pear
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Lemon Curd, Apple, Toast, Cream, Butter, Orange Zest, Pepper
  • Alcohol Content — 13.6%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Cod, Shrimp, Scallops, Toasted Nuts, Pastry Crust, Risotto
Overall Rating: 4.9

Positives
  • Plethora Of Flavors And Aromas
  • Vibrant Acidity
  • Persistent Finish
Negatives
  • Oakiness Could Have Been A Bit More Intense

Tasting Notes

The wine starts with fresh aromas of honeydews, peaches, apricots, and roses. This aromatic diversity is astounding, as the floral characteristics give way to the luscious palate of cream and exotic fruits. A note of pepper graces the long finish. An exceptional wine that begins its journey with scents of fresh honeydews, white peaches, apricots, and nectarines.

Wine fans will then detect rose water, grapefruit, pears, and cinnamon spices. On the palate, creamy touches are prevalent, showing tastes of butter, custard, oil, pineapple, and ripe guavas. In fact, the flavors exude vibrancy and juiciness, which is a wonderful combination. Stone fruit and pepper join notes of orange zest in a persistent conclusion.

One of Napa’s Most Storied Wine Estates

Chateau Montelena is one of the most legendary Napa Valley wineries, founded in 1882 in Calistoga. It’s one of the largest wineries in the state, and even though Prohibition put an end to Montelena’s winemaking, from 1968 and onwards, they produce exceptional wines from Burgundy grape varieties. The Master winemaker is Bo Barrett who runs the estate with Matt Crafton, winemaker, and Dave Vella, vineyard manager. All of them work hard to produce wines of unparalleled quality and expression.


Best With Unlimited Budget

  • Name — Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons
  • Winery — Aubert
  • Country/Region — United States, California, North Coast, Napa County, Napa Valley, Los Carneros
  • Type — Californian Chardonnay
  • Aroma — Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon, Cinnamon Spice, Allspice, Garden Herb, Parsley, Coriander
  • Grapes — Chardonnay
  • Taste — Sea Salt, Ginger, White Pepper, Guava, Cordial, Flint, Lime, Passion Fruit, Peach
  • Alcohol Content — 15.2%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Scallops, Fish And Chips, King Crab, Chestnuts, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes
Overall Rating: 5.0

Positives
  • Superbly Concentrated
  • Pleasing Bouquet
  • Remarkable Finish
Negatives
  • Nothing Really

Tasting Notes

Lime curd, smoke, and mango notes define this wine’s nose. Some ginger, too, as well as nuances of papaya. Full-bodied and mouthwatering, the wine has a palate of concentrated flavors. Focused and clear, Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons is delicious and irresistible to sip. Definitely one of the best Chardonnay in California. An exceptionally balanced wine that begins with great aromatics of smoke, honeysuckle, lemon blossoms, mangoes, and lime curd.

The palate is full-bodied and rich, packed with flavors of lemons, pineapple, guavas, ginger, almonds, and floral notes. The creaminess is intense, adding a certain level of depth. Fortunately, it’s not overpowering as the medium-high acidity brings balance and freshness. Great, irresistible finish.

Mark Aubert

Mark Aubert was founded in 1999, and since then, they craft wines expressive of Sonoma’s terroir. According to many critics, their wines showcase an effortless grace and are complex. This is evident in Aubert Chardonnay Larry Hyde & Sons and appeals to wine lovers with diverse palates. Expect but the best from this winery.

Conclusion

Whether it’s fruity or oak-influenced, Chardonnay is an amazing wine, full of taste and expression. If you’re into whites, don’t miss out on a California Chardonnay. It will impress not only you but also your family and guests. You will be surprised if you allow Chardonnay to showcase its expressiveness and dynamism. You certainly won’t regret it.

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