Many people don’t even realize that not all wines are vegan. There are a great deal of wines that are processed using animal ingredients such as egg whites or isinglass (aka fish bladders). It’s not always easy to tell which wines are vegan or not. A safe bet is to stick with wines that are unfiltered and unfined.
However, they are’t always labeled as such. Many winemakers have also developed ways to process their wines using vegan-friendly ingredients. Unfortunately, it is not always readily apparent when this is the case. The good news is that there are now a significant amount of vegan-friendly wines on the market.
Over the past few years, I’ve contacted quite a few winemakers to find out how their wines were produced. As a result, I have been able to compile quite the list of vegan-friendly wineries. It is my pleasure to be able to share this information with all of you and make it a little easier for you to find that perfect glass of cruelty-free wine.
Presqu’ile is located in the Santa Maria Valley. The tasting room is up in the hills of Santa Maria. It has a gorgeous view overlooking the tasting room. The building is a modern architecture and is beautifully crafted. In addition to the wonderful view are some pretty great wines. I was happy to be informed that they take great pride in the fact that they do not use any animal ingredients in their processing. There is definitely a focus on red varieties, particularly Pinot Noir and Syrah. They do, however, also offer a decent selection of whites including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. My absolute favorite is the Late Harvest Chardonnay, which I’ve never seen anywhere else.
This winery has some great member perks. For one, there is a selection of wines only available to members. In addition, several times a year, they have members only events (some of them even have vegan food options). Members are granted access to the members only patio area. This area has plenty of comfortable seating, its own bar, a fire pit, foosball and a ping pong table. If they are so inclined, members have the option of playing bocce ball and horseshoes.
This winery also serves a small selection of hors-devours. Currently, there are no vegan items on the menu, however, I was informed a vegan plate could be assembled upon request. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food into the tasting room.
Pulchella does not filter or fine their wines. This makes them inherently vegan. Although the grapes are grown on the Central Coast, the tasting room is in Santa Clarita. This makes it a convenient tasting option for Angelenos. Pulchella crafts mostly red varieties. However, they offer both light and full bodied wines. This makes it a great option, even if you are typically not a red wine lover. The tasting room is an intimate setting with a small outdoor patio area. Outside food is allowed, which makes it easy to enjoy vegan snacks while tasting.
Pulchella has a wine club with a handful of member perks. Members receive free tasting on each visit. These tastings include wines only available to members. They have a couple of pick-up parties each year. The rest of the time, they are hard at work making delicious wines.
Tolosa has verified that their wines are 100% vegan. Their wines are created in the Edna Valley and they operate a testing room in San Luis Obispo. Tolosa focuses primarily on Pinots and Chardonnays. One thing to note is the range of Chards they offer. They feature Chardonnays aged in both oak and steel barrels.
Tolosa is probably the most eco-friendly winery on this list. They are sip certified and dedicated to sustainable practices. They make a point to recycle and the winery is even solar powered. Visitors can take a self-guided tour using a series of electronic kiosks. Members have access to the picnic areas and receive additional perks the longer they stay in the club.
Carhartt is a family owned and operated winery. Its claim to fame is that it has the world’s smallest tasting room. The tasting room is indeed tiny, but there is a decent sized patio area in the back. The tasting room is located in Los Olivos, CA. Although they are not certified, I’m told they use sustainable and organic farming techniques. They do not process or filter their wines which makes them vegan-friendly.
Stolpman makes wines that are completely unfiltered and vegan-friendly. They use mostly sustainable and organic practices. Stolpman operates tasking rooms in Los Olivos and in Lompocs “Wine Ghetto”. Having two locations makes it convenient to stop in for a taste whenever you are in the Central Coast. It also means that club members have two different places to receive free tastings. Stolpman offers 3 tiers of membership, making them accessible with any budget. They also offer a range of options from everyday wines to high end estate wines.
Stolpman has some unique practices when it come to their employees. They allow their wine making crew to maintain their own block in the vineyard. Each year, the wines are blended with the other lots and the proceeds are given to the workers as a year end bonus.
Other Vegan-Friendly Central Coast Wineries
Note: I have personally contacted each of these wineries. I have done my best to provide information that is as accurate as possible. As a rule or thumb, it is always a good idea to double check with the wine maker or confirm upon visiting the tasting room