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Hidden Orange County Wine Loop – Napa Valley, Eat your Hvarti out!
Hamilton Oaks Winery Vineyards

Hidden Orange County Wine Loop – Napa Valley, Eat your Hvarti out!

Ah, Orange County – – the beaches, the vistas, the wineries…

Wait, the wineries?!  Yes, you can walk beautiful vineyards and go wine tasting right here in Orange County. The Orange County Winery Loop has been here for years, but is quickly coming of age.  There is no need to trek to Temecula for a wine tasting experience.  In less than 30 minutes from San Clemente, 20 minutes from Orange,  and 15 minutes from Coto De Caza, you could be sipping on award-winning, Orange County wines.

I originally wrote this story for the inaugural edition of OC South, a glossy print magazine for  South Orange County . This is an expanded edition of that story, with extra wineries, pictures and tips. Check out OC South Magazine. 

Orange County Wineries

Orange County Wine Loop

Some of Orange County Wineries actually grow their own grapes for their estate blends, other excel at wine making using fruit from the best growing region.  So, buckle up and top down, because I’m going to send you on the perfect South Orange County wine tasting experience.

Cowboy Canyon Winery Glass and Vineyard

The Orange County Wine Loop – There are more Wineries and Vineyards in Orange County then you think

Day 1 – Orange County Canyon Wineries

Day one of your Orange County wine loop adventure begins in the Trabuco and Silverado Canyons. This area feels like you took a plane ride to a different state, even though you are less than a 15 minutes ride from the City of Orange.  The rustic and warm environment is perfect for growing hardy red grapes.

Giracci Vineyards and Farms

Giracci Winery and Farms Tasting Room is like you are visiting Napa Valley

Giracci Winery and Farms Tasting Room is like you are visiting Napa Valley

Your first stop is Giracci Vineyards and Farms, located at 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd., Silverado Canyon. When you pull into Giracci, you feel like you are pulling up into a Napa Valley farm, complete with horses and historic buildings. Giracci has a stately tasting room, and the staff will make you feel like family.

Their award-winning wines are made in the Italian style and are very delicious and fruit forward. I recommend the 2010 Syrah.

 Giracci Vineyards and Farms Details

  • Address: 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd., Silverado Canyon
  • giracci.com
  • Wine Tasting (Walk-ins Welcome): Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.11:30 AM – 5:00 PM 

Cowboy Canyon Winery

Cowboy Canyon Winery -  Owners and Staff

Cowboy Canyon Winery – Owners and Staff

The next winery, Cowboy Canyon Winery, is located on Giracci’s 10-acre farm. You can roll out of one tasting room and into another. Although Giracci and Cowboy Canyon are affiliated, they each provide an entirely different wine tasting experience. Cowboy Canyon has a rock and roll cowboy attitude, and their wines have a little kick as well. My favorite is the 2011 “8 Second Ride” Sangiovese.

Cowboy Canyon Winery Details


Hamilton Oaks Winery

Hamilton Oaks Winery Vineyards

Hamilton Oaks Winery Vineyards

Our third stop is Hamilton Oaks Winery, located at 31111 Hamilton Trail, Trabuco Canyon.  Theirs is an exclusive experience, and reservations are required. Hamilton Oaks has hosted celebrities and foreign dignitaries, and their wines have won multiple awards.

What I like about Hamilton Oaks is that you can sip your wine under the oak trees while gazing at the canyon vineyard. The wines at Hamilton Oaks are delicious and sophisticated, I highly recommend their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hamilton Oaks - Bottle with Owner in background

Hamilton Oaks – Bottle with Owner in background

Hamilton Oaks Winery Details

  • Two Locations
  • Tasting Room at the Historical Swammer House 29943 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
  • Hamilton Oaks Estate Tasting Room and Vineyard
    • 31111 Hamilton Trail, Trabuco Canyon. Reservations Required, plan ahead
    • http://www.hamiltonoaksvineyard.com/
    • Appointments available – Tuesday through Sunday 11 am to 7pm
    • Call (949) 459-6913 to schedule an appointment.


Eat or Play?

If your date is feeling wine frisky, perhaps it is a great time to head home ;). Perhaps your body is feeling another carnal emotion, hunger. If the later is the case, then dinner at Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse is a must.


Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse in Trabuco Canyon

Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse in Trabuco Canyon


It’s one my top 10 steakhouses of Orange County and is a short ride from Hamilton Oaks. The food and ambiance are rustic; hickory smoked steaks and an oak tree growing through the center of the dining room complete the experience.   This place is popular, so reservations are recommended.

I suggest scheduling dinner reservations two hours after your Hamilton Oaks wine tasting reservation. A fair bit of warning, if you show up to Hamilton Oaks with a tie on, it will be cut off and stapled to the wall with your business card. I, usually, bring a tie for this reason.

Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse's Bonein Rib-eye

Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse Bonein Rib-eye

Make reservations early in the day or the day before if possible. (949) 586-0722
20782 Trabuco Oaks Dr, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679


Day 2 –Coastal Orange County Wineries

Day two of cruising Orange County’s wine loop takes us on the coastal route. Some stops are more exclusive than others, so a little planning is required, just like the canyon wineries.

Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery

Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery Grape Vines

Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery Grape Vines.

Perhaps you want to show off your insider connections to your friends, then securing a private tasting at Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery is the uber experience. Although Newport Beach Vineyards and winery is closed to the public, you could score an exclusive wine tasting and cheese pairing if you can gather up 8 of your friends. I guarantee you will be the envy of your group after sipping wines in Orange County’s only wine cave. I recommend the 2010 OC Estate Unobtainium, a meritage blend made using fruit from the Newport Beach vineyard.  

Newport Beach Vineyard and Winery Entrance to Wine Cave

Newport Beach Vineyard and Winery Entrance to Wine Cave

Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery Details

  • 2128 Mesa Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
  • nbwine.com/
  • Call to make a reservation for your group (949) 630-8662


Orange Coast Winery

While you are in the neighborhood, I recommend a stop at Orange Coast Winery. Orange Coast Winery is tucked away in an industrial area of Newport Beach. The winemaker is part of the Weens family, who operates as the winemaker at Weens family Vineyards in Temecula.

Orange Coast Winery

Orange Coast Winery

Orange Coast Winery BarThe wines are made onsite using fruit from all over California. The Weens family winemaking style is evident in the wine, but their wines are nothing like their Temecula cousins.  The wines are good and the staff is friendly. I recommend the 2013 Primitivo reserve, which uses grapes from Lodi.

I have gone back and forth on this winery. I loved it, then was disappointed during the change of ownership. I recently fell in love with it again during a recent incognito visit. 


Orange Coast Winery Details

  • Orange Coast Winery Address Two Locations
  • 869 West 16th Street, Newport Beach
  • 3734 E. Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar
  • http://www.orangecoastwinery.com/
  • Wine Tasting Hours (both locations)
  • Thursday and Friday: 4:00 – 9:00 pm
  • Saturday: Noon – 9:00 pm
  • Sunday: 2:00 – 8:00 pm
  • 949-645-0400

Laguna Canyon Winery

Your last wine frolicking stop for the day is Laguna Canyon Winery, right in the heart of Laguna Canyon Road. I have visited this winery for years and they do a wonderful job of making California wines with a subtle French and Italian influence. Located at 2133 Laguna Canyon Road  in Laguna Beach, this winery is a hidden gem.

Laguna Canyon Winery

Laguna Canyon Winery Tasting room – Image courtesy of www.lagunacanyonwinery.com


Their wine tasting fees are $2 per 2 ounce pour, with fee waived per bottle. Although, I recommend their 1st Friday of the Month Wine Tasting party, which includes 10 one ounce pours for $40. It also includes food and live music! 

If you are still rolling with the group from Newport Beach Vineyards, then schedule a group barrel tasting experience. For $35 a person, you can taste four red wines directly from their French oak barrels. Food can be ordered, and is encouraged, during the barrel tasting. http://www.lagunacanyonwinery.com/

Laguna Canyon Winery Details

  • 2133 Laguna Canyon Road Laguna Beach, CA 92651
  • http://www.lagunacanyonwinery.com/
  • Call for Barrel Tasting reservations: (949) 715-9463
  • Tasting Room Hours
    • Open Daily 11am – 6pm, closed Monday & holidays
  • Next 1st Friday of the month Wine Tasting Party
    • December 5th – 6-9 pm

Other Orange County Wineries, perhaps another article

I highly encourage you to visit http://www.ocwinetrail.com/ it is a great site that chronicles Orange County’s Wineries. The folks at Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery referred me to this great resource.  As a group, they are starting to get organized, resulting in more locally made wine right here in OC. 

Orange County winery map from orangecountywinetrial

Orange County winery map from www.orangecountywinetrial.com


Pozzouli Vineyard and Winery

  • 5481 Red Hill Ave. Suite C, Tustin CA 92780
  • Hours
    • W,TH. 4PM-8PM, F, SA. 11AM-8PM
  • 714-258-8817
  • www.pozzuoliwinery.com
Pozzuoli Winery

Image Courtesy of Pozzuoli Winery

Rancho Capistrano Winery

26755 Verdugo St. #100, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Hours: Opening Soon!

Ph. 949-307-7736. Email. [email protected]


Rancho Capistrano

Image Courtesy of Rancho Capistrano

Frisby Cellars Winery

20331 Lake Forest Dr. Suite C-3, Lake Forest, CA 92630

Hours: Saturday & Sunday 12PM-5PM

Ph. 949-243-6691


Frisby Cellars

Frisby Cellars

Winery on Main Street

4861 Main Street, Yorba Linda , California 92886 , USA

Hours: Closed Sun. & Mon

Tue. to Thru. 4:00pm to 9:00pm

Fri. 4:00pm to 11:00pm

Sat. 1:00pm to 11:00pm


Telephone : 1-(714)-777-WINE (9463)

Winery on Main Street

Image courtesy of Winery on Main Street.

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. I could think of worse ways to spend my time. That steak looks well fit!

  2. It’s amazing that so many wineries are popping up in the south coast now. It’s really making it hard to find places to just be regulars to. then agian, that’s what your blog helps with finding ones near you right?

  3. I’ve been to a winery in Canada, during my student exchange. It was gorgeous. That’s all wineries really have for me the gorgeous landscape, since I don’t drink.

  4. I bet that’s a valuable piece of property that produces a great wine.

  5. Wow…that is so cool. I’d love to visit and try it.

  6. Great article my love! I was so excited to see that we had some great wineries in our very own backyard! We must go tasting there again soon! Congrats on your publication in OC South! :)

  7. I was just in the area for a wedding and had no idea there were so many wineries!
    Thank you for this – totally opened up my world!


  8. The ambiance of the tasting room is amazing.

  9. I have never been to a winery. I will definitely take one in next summer. The wine tasting is something that i would love to do. I really enjoy a nice wine with great food.

  10. Great article! Thank you so much for mentioning Giracci Vineyards and Farms and Cowboy Canyon Winery, we are honored! Of course, our greatest desires are to produce the best wines and share them with all our friends. We hope you join us again soon at Giracci and Cowboy.

    Michele Agopian
    Operations Manager

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