Planning a Sonoma County Vineyard tour? Look no further!
Perhaps nowhere surpasses Sonoma County wines and vineyards! The rolling hills, tough soil, and superb climate all play a crucial part in maturing the grapes to the highest quality in the world. When the Northern California Wine Rush began in the 1850’s Sonoma County was center stage to the influx of vineyards, and for good reason!
Saving you hours of research we’ve compiled our favorite ones here to save you the time. With so many spectacular vineyards to choose from, many will not be included on this list. These are only a few that we personally recommend. For a wider selection of just about all the vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, St. Helena, and Mendocino check out our Information Page! If you’re having trouble building an itinerary for your Sonoma County vineyard tour we’d be happy to help with your itinerary, just shoot us an email!
Without further a-dew, and in no particular order, here’s some of our favorites!
This long established Sonoma County wine producer only recently opened a tasting room for the first time. Owner Morgan Twain-Peterson, a former Chronicle Winemaker of the Year, seized an opportunity to take over the General Joseph Hooker House in downtown Sonoma, which 166 years ago belonged to a Mexican-American war hero. It’s a good way to take in some Sonoma history alongside wines that showcase historic California vineyards.
A short drive from downtown Healdsburg is DaVero, a scenic biodynamic farm and estate winery where you’ll spot olive trees and farm animals outside the tasting bar. Like Idlewild, the focus is on Italian-style wines, but DaVero expands beyond northern Italy to encompass the full boot, with renditions of Primitivo, Fiano, Vermentino and — maybe DaVero’s best — Sagrantino. Book ahead for a farm tour and get to know the pigs and sheep.
Looking for a place to hang out and grab a drink in downtown Healdsburg? Idlewild is just as much fun of any of the bars in town. The small wine label is based here but sources its fruit from Mendocino County and looks to northern Italy for its inspiration. You’ll find delicate renditions of Arneis, Barbera, Dolcetto and more, offered here alongside hearty platters of cheese and salumi.
One of the Russian River Valley’s pioneering producers, Joseph Swan winery today offers tastings in a no-frills setting among barrels and cases of wine. Don’t let that stop you from discovering these old-school Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Zinfandels, which have maintained an ideal of balance and finesse for 50 years.
Since the 1980s, Laurel Glen has put out some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons in Sonoma County, and for considerably lower prices than comparable Cabernets across the county line in Napa. Although the estate is located high on Sonoma Mountain — whose steep, narrow roads can be intimidating to the unfamiliar driver — the winery operates a tasting room nearby in Glen Ellen where you can taste through these ageworthy Cabs.
The latest addition to downtown Healdsburg’s tasting room scene is Lioco, an intimate space with bar stools and lounge seating that’s open without a reservation (though booking ahead is encouraged). Founded in 2005, Lioco made its name on fresh, energetic, lower-alcohol renditions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but Carignan is a big focus for the winery too. In a nod to cannabis strains, the Carignan rosé is called Indica, while the red Carignan is called Sativa.
Traveling from Healdsburg to points south, you could take a scenic route down Westside Road to River Road before getting onto 101. This route takes you directly by Martinelli’s tasting room, which is an easy stop to tack on to any journey. The bustling space features a central tasting bar surrounded by a gift shop-like display of wines and other products. Zinfandel is a specialty of the Martinelli family, which made headlines this year when it purchased the Three Sisters Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast from its own family members.
What was once a biker bar and gas station in this rural stretch of Alexander Valley is now Medlock Ames, one of the most vibrant spots for wine tasting in the area. Ample outdoor seating gives visitors a great chance to enjoy the scenery and the easy-drinking wines, mostly Bordeaux blends. It’s a breath of fresh, youthful air.
Tragically, Paradise Ridge’s Santa Rosa winery burned during the 2017 Wine Country wildfires, leaving behind only its steel sculpture garden. While the owners rebuild, you can still taste the Paradise Ridge wines at the smaller tasting room in Kenwood, complete with a “sensory garden.” You can choose a tasting experience that pairs garden herbs with different wines.
More Sonoma County tasting rooms require appointments these days, especially on Healdsburg’s Westside Road, a hotbed of excellent wineries. But if you find yourself up Westside without a reservation, you can always pop into Porter Creek. The bare-bones shed of a tasting room can get crowded, but it’s worth a little bit of jostling to taste these expertly crafted wines — and if the crowd’s too much, retire outside with a glass.
If your idea of a great afternoon of wine tasting consists of sitting outside with picture-perfect surroundings and tasting wines at a leisurely pace with tasty, farm-fresh snacks, Reeve may be your Platonic wine-tasting ideal. Co-owner Noah Dorrance departed Banshee to focus on Reeve, which excels with wines as diverse as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and (especially) dry Riesling.
In Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel is king. But Unti sees the valley’s climate as ideal for more than just Zin, and has planted a vineyard full of eclectic varieties grown across the Mediterranean, from Vermentino to Grenache. (Zinfandel is Mediterranean, too, hailing from Croatia.) These are charming, approachable wines, offered in a casual tasting bar — though keep in mind that you do need a reservation.