Off the Beaten Path Wine Country – Hollister


Written by:

Joe Becerra

Last updated:

That’s right, Hollister. Most likely, you have never heard of Hollister wine country. We have four wineries in this area that are excellent and can match wine quality with any other California wine country. Avoid the crowds, the high tasting fees, and much more in Hollister wine country. We introduce the Hollister Wine Trail.

Hollister Wine Trail

Eden Rift on the Hollister wine  trail
Vineyards at Eden Rift on the Hollister wine trail

How do we get there

Hollister is a farming city in San Benito County. This area is part of the Central Valley. From the north or south take Highway 101 to Highway 25 to Hollister. Besides the wine country, there is the spectacular Pinnacles National Park.

Where do we stay

Where do we dine

Hollister Wine Trail

We recommend four wineries to visit in the area of Hollister. Leal Vineyards is off Highway 25 and 25 minutes away from the Pinnacles National Park. The three other wineries are on Cienega Road. All of these wineries are in the Cienega Valley AVA, a sub-appellation of the Central Coast AVA. Check out the map below to get your bearings.

Leal Vineyards

From the city of Hollister, Leah is about 5 miles away. It is a good idea to program your GPS or smartphone map to get there. Leal Vineyards is in a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Central Coast Mountains. The vineyards look spectacular against the foothills. Besides making delicious wines, the winery is probably more well known as a wedding venue. It is a lovely setting for a wedding, and the winery hosts a large number of weddings each year.

The estate vineyards are Bordeaux grapes and Rhone grapes. The morning fog and the cooling afternoon breezes from the ocean make a perfect climate for these vineyards.

The Leal Vineyards tasting room is open daily from 10am to 4 pm.

Phone: (831)636-1023


De Rose may be the most fascinating of the wineries on Cienega Road. Some wine historians say that De Rose is the oldest existing winery in California. The first vineyards were planted in 1854. The winery has changed owners several times. Almaden was one of the prominent wineries in the 1950s and 1960s. After Almaden sold to Hublein the vineyards remained abandoned for a long stretch. Then, in 1988 came the DeRose and Cedolini families.

Today the winery case production is blah. No Pinot Noir or Chardonnay at DeRose, but we find award-winning Zinfandel, Negrette, Cabernet Franc, and Viognier.

The De Rose tasting room is open Monday to Friday, from 11 am to 5 pm. On Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

Eden Rift

The vineyards at Eden Rift date back to 1849. Seven different owners have run the property since 1849, the latest and perhaps the greatest is Christian Pillsbury. Eden Rift land is a unique growing area. The soil is calcareous, making the land ideal for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pacific Ocean is 20 miles to the west. The afternoon breezes from the ocean provide a quick temperature drop to the heat of the day. The property sits on the San Andreas Fault.

Remarkably, the first grapes planted were Pinot Noir. The long-term plan is to take this historic vineyard to the next level with modern vineyard management techniques and excellent winemaking skills. We are looking forward to that.

The tasting room is open daily from 11 am to 4 pm. The tasting fee is $15.


Josh Jensen fell in love with the wines of Burgundy. When it was time to settle down from his passion for the French lifestyle, he came to California to make beautiful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In the Central Valley is where Josh discovered the perfect growing region. The area is Cienega Valley and specifically, Mount Harlan. This area is limestone, providing the ideal soil and climate for growing Burgundian grapes. 

Wine critics consider Josh Jensen one of the great pioneers of Pinot Noir in California. Two entry-level Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are labeled as Central Coast and are in many wine shops and supermarkets. It is the vineyard-specific wines that are referenced by the wine critics. 

In 2017 Josh Jensen stunned the wine world selling the Calera Wine Co. to the Duckhorn Wine Company. Jensen, 73 years old at the time, felt it was time to move on and retire and live off his Pinot Noir accomplishments. Today, Calera has the same winemaker, Mike Waller, and the wines are still delicious and beautifully crafted.  

There are no vineyards at the winemaking facility and tasting room. Visitors are not allowed in the vineyards, which are two miles from the tasting room. However, the views of the Coastal Mountains are breathtaking. Bring your lunch and sip a glass of delicious Chardonnay while enjoying your picnic. 

The tasting room is open from 11 to 4:30 daily.

One side note: We hiked the Pinnacles the day before we did wine tasting on the Hollister Wine Trail.

Hollister Wine Trail Map

More off the beaten Wine Trails

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.