Sonoma County is on the westside of Napa Valley, between San Francisco and the towering redwoods of Mendocino. The area’s wineries are known for their extensive selection of grapes and for attracting more intimate crowds. From Bella Vineyards to Copain Winery, here are the best places to enjoy a glass in the Californian state.
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Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves
Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves are operated by husband-and-wife team Scott and Lynn Adams, who acquired the zinfandel vines planted in 1915, formerly known as Lily Hill Estate in Dry Creek Valley. The main focus of Bella Vineyards is zinfandel and rhone varietal wines. Tasting the wines is a great experience in Bella’s wine caves, nestled under Lily Hill vineyard, affording a view of the barrel storage and winemaking led by winemaker Joe Healy. Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves strive to produce wine with rich textures and fruity notes, drawing out the complexities of their century-old vines.
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Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield shared the vision of producing quality wines that could be enjoyed with friends. Together they established Dutton-Goldfield Winery. Dutton does the harvesting and Goldfield the winemaking. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the focus of this winery, nestled in the cool climate of Northern California’s Russian River Valley. The goal is to capture the brightness, complexity, structure and balance of the fruit. Wine tasting is offered daily at the vineyard’s tasting bar for parties fewer than six. Book the “picnic & pinot flight”, which entails tasting followed by a picnic lunch on the patio or near the fireplace.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
With more than 40 on-site wines to taste, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is an experience that pairs farm-to-table cuisine perfectly with its vineyard offerings in Hollywood-style settings. Coppola’s Mystery Tasting gives guests a chance to blindly identify different wines without labels. Two pools are located on the property as well, with cabines that can be rented daily for a full family experience.
Iron Horse Vineyards
Iron Horse Vineyards is an independent estate and family-owned winery offering exceptional tours and tastings throughout their working acreage. Three generations of the family live in Green Valley on the winery, where they practice micro-farming under the expert guidance of Daniel Roberts, PhD, aka Dr. Dirt. The winery practices sustainable farming, which they define as a holistic effort to protect and nurture the environment, the community and natural resources. Iron Horse Vineyards consists of 39 blocks that are individually farmed and harvested separately. The tasting room sits atop undulating hills overlooking the vineyards where guests are invited to taste pinot noir, chardonnay and their very own highly-rated sparkling wines.
Biodynamic farming is a phrase the Quiviria Vineyards and Winery holds dear to its heart. This type of farming begins with the soil composites and a self-sustaining system that includes compost piles, chicken coops and vegetable gardens. Through this farming process, the vineyards achieve balance with their environment, which in turn will produce exceptional wine. Husband-and-wife team Pete and Terri Knight own and operate Quiviria Winery, which consists of a 93-acre (38ha) vineyard producing zinfandel, sauvignon blanc and the rhone varieties: syrah, grenache and mourvedre.
Red Car Wine
This West Sonoma winery nurtures wine that is procured in cold climates, such as syrah, pinot noir and chardonnay. Red Car Winery is a small production operation that relies on the natural acidity of weathered grapes and gravity flow. These natural resources help the winery to produce complex, aromatic wines with body and finesse. Founded by winemakers Carroll Kemp, Mark Estrin and Richard Crowell, Red Car is a tribute to the electric trolley cars that ran throughout Los Angeles from the late 19th century through the early 1960s.
Available by appointment only, Copain Winery is perched on a hill in the Russian River Valley, where guests are invited to share an informative yet informal tasting experience. The wines at Copain are crafted to accompany the celebration of food, family and friends. Winemaker Wells Guthrie is known for producing syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir, all of which are available to taste and to purchase. Don’t miss the farm-to-table tasting, which consists of a selection of Copian’s five wines paired with local artisan cheeses and small bites.
Looming above Alexander Valley, Stonestreet Winery sits at the pinnacle of the Mayacamas Mountains, encompassing 5,100 acres (2,064ha) of land at 2,800 feet (853m) above sea level. The height of this winery yields single vineyard offerings with distinct character, like cabernets, chardonnays and rieslings. The director of winemaking, Graham Weerts, hails from South Africa and knows how to produce wine from a rugged landscape, while Stonestreet’s female winemaker, Lisa Valtenbergs, oversees the process from fruit ripening to cellar production. Take a tasting trip up the mountains to the Alexander Estate, or stay in the lowlands at the store in downtown Healdsburg.
Calistoga Motor Lodge
When it’s time to hit the hay after all that wine, Calistoga Motor Lodge is a great option for an overnight stay. Inspired by the classic American road trip, Calistoga Motor Lodge is all about escaping the everyday and exploring life off the beaten path. The retro-inspired Camper rooms offer a luxury take on van life, while the new Vista rooms boast views over the Vaca Mountains. To truly unwind, take a dip in the three geothermal mineral pools followed by a visit to the MoonAcre Spa & Baths. Slather your skin in mud at the mud bar, or try one of their unique treatments – think a grape seed body scrub or a hemp-derived CBD massage.
This boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Napa is perfectly located just steps away from dozens of tasting rooms, restaurants and the Napa Riverfront. Inside, the vibe is “luxe wine country retreat” brought to life in a sophisticated palette of cream, grey and gold. Make sure to enjoy a glass of wine under a canopy of olive trees on the Sky & Vine rooftop bar – it boasts panoramic views over the valley. Overnight guests also have access to the exclusive sky terrace, with a luxurious shallow water deck, chaise lounges and cabanas.
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