Sonoma County is located slightly to the west of Napa Valley
, between San Francisco
and the towering redwood forest. There are many differences between the two famed wine regions, mainly the varieties of grape grown. Sonoma County wineries are known for their extensive selection of grapes and for attracting more intimate crowds. From quaint family-run operations to larger-than-life Hollywood icons, here are 10 wineries in Sonoma County sure to please the palate.
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.
Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA, USA, +1 707-473-9171
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.
Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA, USA, +1 707-823-3887
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
With more than forty 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. The ‘Wine, Whim & Song’ tasting tour discovers the combination of wine and music; ‘Tasting in the Dark’ has guests blindfolded and tasting in the winemakers lab and the ‘Bottle Ballet Mecanique Tasting’ is done in the state-of-the-art bottling facility. Two pools are located on the property as well, with cabines that can be rented daily for a full family experience.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA, USA, +1 (707) 857-1471
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 of undulating hills overlooking the vineyards where guests are invited to taste Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Brit Rosé.
Iron Horse Vineyards, Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, CA, USA, +1 707-887-1507
Quiviria Vineyards and Winery
Quiviria Vineyards and Winery
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. Throughout this farming process, the vineyards will achieve balance with its 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 vineyard producing Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and the Rhone varieties: Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Quiviria Vineyards and Winery, Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA, USA, +1 707-431-8333
In 1977, winemaker Joel Peterson was one of the first wine proprietors to produce the infamous Merlot. Ravenswood had a sordid start producing small batches of Zinfandel, which expanded to Merlot, Shiraz, Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Sourcing grapes from different vineyards in the region lent itself to a non-sedentary winery lifestyle. Ravenswood was before its time in that it was perhaps the first pop-up winery, not finding a permanent ‘home’ until it landed on Gehricke Road. Currently, Ravenswood offers wine enthusiasts the Single Vineyard Designate, County Series and Vintners Blend.
Ravenswood, Gehricke Road, Sonoma, CA, USA, +1 888-669-4679
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 romanticised tribute to the electric trolley cars that ran throughout Los Angeles from the late 19th century through the early 1960s.
Red Car Wine, Graton Rd, Sebastopol, CA, USA, +1 707-829-8500
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.
Copian Winery, Eastside Road, Healdsburg, CA, USA, +1 707-836-8822
Lioco Winery presents vintage California wines from Sonoma, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz, all which focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Carignan grapes. Once the grapes are harvested, they are transported to the Punchdown Cellars in Santa Rosa, California. LIOCO often pairs wine tastings with cuisine from local restaurants for their LIOCO Lunch Series, which celebrates food and wine alongside a combination of forward-thinking flavours. LIOCO Wine represents owners Matt Licklider and Kevin O’Conner’s ideals on wine and life, as well as the letters in their last names.
LIOCO Winery, Hopper Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA, USA, +1 707-331-3582
Looming above Alexander Valley Stonestreet Winery sits at the pinnacle of the Mayacamas Mountains, encompassing 5,100 acres of land at 2,800 feet 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.
Stonestreet Winery, Hwy 128, Healdsburg, CA, USA, +1 707-433-9463