Northern California’s Sonoma County is a dream destination for wine and food lovers. The area’s diverse geography and multitude of microclimates provide an optimal environment for producing world-class, terroir-driven wines and bountiful local foods. Sonoma is home to more than 425 wineries and nearly 60,000 acres of vineyards that span 19 American Viticultural Areas from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains. In addition to wine tastings, many of these top Sonoma wineries host special events like dinners and live music performances. Read on to learn more about the delicious wines and inviting atmospheres offered in Sonoma’s wine country.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery: Geyserville
(Chad Keig/Courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola Winery)
Francis Ford and Eleanor Coppola purchased this 28-acre property in Alexander Valley in 2006. Inspired by Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola wanted to create a family-friendly, resort-like winery where guests could “celebrate the love of life.” Accordingly, this property has something for everyone, including two swimming pools with private “cabines” (cabanas), a poolside cafe and dining with a view at Rustic. The property also boasts a gallery filled with movie memorabilia from Coppola’s feature films, bocce ball courts, and other activities and amenities. As for the wine, reservations are highly recommended if you want to enjoy a 45-minute seated tasting flight on the terrace, while the 30-minute tasting on the main floor operates on a more casual first-come, first-serve basis.
Address: 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441
Jordan Vineyard & Winery: Healdsburg
(Matt Armendariz/Courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery)
The inspiration for Jordan Vineyard & Winery, founded in 1972 by Tom and Sally Jordan, came from France’s food and wine culture. This stunning 1,200-acre property is set among the vineyards and rolling hills of the Alexander Valley. The winery chateau houses the winemaking operation, wine cellars, kitchen and other facilities; it’s also one of the venues where you can sample the vineyard’s notable cabernets and chardonnays. Tasting experiences include a winery walking tour with a seated wine and food pairing in the new French-inspired cellar room. A guided vineyard tasting includes two vintages of Russian River chardonnay and two vintages of Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon paired with a selection of artisanal salumi and cheeses chosen by the winemaker – amid panoramic vineyard views. The wines you’ll sample on a three-hour estate tour are accompanied by food pairings and an olive oil tasting, along with a light lunch. Keep in mind that reservations are required for all tastings.
Address: 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Patz & Hall: Sonoma
(Courtesy of Patz & Hall)
Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by a group of four friends with knowledge of and passion for winemaking. One of the founders, James Hall, has been at the helm of the winemaking program since its inception. The Sonoma House at Patz & Hall offers a picturesque setting to sample and appreciate its wines amid the vineyard and mountain views – as long as you have a reservation – while sipping a notable chardonnay or pinot noir. Select the casual Sonoma House tasting to try four single-vineyard wines as an introduction to the vineyard. The Sparkling & Still Flight tasting option includes its specialty wines – pinot noir and chardonnay – in both sparkling and single-vineyard vintages.
Address: 21200 8th Street E., Sonoma, CA 95476
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens: Fulton
(Courtesy of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens)
Kendall-Jackson is picturesquely situated in the heart of Sonoma County, surrounded by gardens and vineyards. The culinary gardens at the estate cover about 4 acres, producing rare, organic and sustainable vegetables, and microgreens for the estate – and for San Francisco’s best chefs. The Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate also has a truffle orchard that produced the winery’s first harvest of Périgord black truffles in 2017. Travelers can make a reservation to experience either the estate wine tasting or the wine and food pairing, which comes with seasonal ingredients sourced fresh from the on-site garden to complement limited-release wines. From spring through fall the winery also hosts a garden tour and tasting option that lets you sample the wines alongside harvested produce, as well as a farm-to-table dinner series.
Address: 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, CA 95439
Martinelli Winery: Windsor
(Courtesy of Martinelli Winery)
The Martinelli family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Russian River Valley for more than 135 years, beginning with the arrival of Giuseppe Martinelli from Italy in the 1880s. This family operation, which farms and produces small-batch chardonnay, syrah, pinot noir and zinfandel, is best known for the latter two wines. Martinelli Winery offers several tasting experiences, with reservations strongly encouraged but not always required if space permits. Splurge on The Collector’s Flight to sample exclusive and highly rated wines, or check out the Heritage Tasting, which is hosted in the historic Baler Bar and features a flight of the winery’s single-vineyard chardonnay, pinot noir, and syrah or zinfandel. You may also enjoy a private estate walking tour that includes a tasting, or the seasonal Vineyard Terrace Tasting offered April to October.
Address: 3360 River Road, Windsor, CA 95492
Cline Family Cellars: Sonoma
(Courtesy of Cline Cellars)
Cline Family Cellars is a family-owned and -operated sustainable winery. Fred Cline began making wine in 1982 at a small ranch in Oakley, California, and then purchased a 350-acre horse farm in the Carneros region of Sonoma Valley in 1989. The ﬁrst vintages were from original plantings of ancient vines of mourvedre, zinfandel and carignane grapes. Other varietals now include syrah and viognier, as well as pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay and grenache. Reservations are recommended for the Sonoma Heartland Tasting, which includes a flight of Sonoma AVA-focused wines. For a real treat, rent a private garden cabana that comes with a provision basket and a bottle of wine: This two-hour bottle service experience with beautiful views of the Great Lawn requires a reservation and a minimum of four guests.
Address: 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
Dry Creek Vineyard: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Dry Creek Vineyard)
Dry Creek Vineyard was established by David Stare in 1972. The winery considers itself one of the few remaining truly private, family-owned operations of its kind in Sonoma County; its 185-acres of land are certified sustainable and its wines are consistently highly rated. As the founder of the first new winery in Dry Creek Valley following Prohibition, Stare was the first winemaker to plant sauvignon blanc in the valley – and the first to produce a fume blanc in Sonoma County. He also initiated the process for Dry Creek Valley to become a wine appellation in 1983. Visitors to Dry Creek Vineyard can enjoy intimate seated tastings with a reservation. The approximately 1.5-hour visit includes learning about the family’s history and winemaking philosophy while tasting single-vineyard and limited-production wines.
Address: 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Mauritson Wines: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Mauritson Wines)
Mauritson Wines is famed for its zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. The family of sheep ranchers and grape growers has been located in Dry Creek Valley since 1868; S.P. Hallengren, the great-great-great-grandfather of Mauritson Wines founder Clay Mauritson, planted his first vines in Sonoma County’s Rockpile region in 1884. To accompany the family’s long history of growing grapes, Clay Mauritson sought to add winemaking to the farming operation in the 1990s, debuting the winery’s inaugural zinfandel in 1998. Today, signature flight tastings are available to visitors by reservation. The experience includes a tasting of the new releases along with insight into the wines and history of Mauritson’s six-generation journey in the winemaking industry.
Address: 2859 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Keller Estate: Petaluma
(Michael Ryan/Courtesy of Keller Estate)
The Keller family began producing organically farmed estate wines 30 years ago at this picturesque locale in the Petaluma Gap region. The goal was to produce extraordinary, handcrafted wines that would express the unique soil, climate and topography of their property. Keller Estate is recognized for its limited production of pinot noirs and chardonnays, but visitors should also be sure to try the brut rose sparkling and Rôtie syrah blend wines. The winery offers an estate visit and tour by reservation only for a taste of five flagship wines (chardonnays, pinot noirs and syrah) and of Keller Estate olive oil. The property is pet- and family-friendly but does not allow picnicking.
Address: 5875 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, CA 94954
Laurel Glen Vineyard: Glen Ellen
Laurel Glen’s organic vineyards sit on the hillsides of Sonoma Mountain in the Sonoma Mountain area, one of the smallest AVAs with just 667 vineyard acres. The winery specializes in cabernet sauvignon but also makes a small-batch rose and sauvignon blanc. Two tastings are available by reservation in the Glen Ellen tasting room. The sampling of four current releases begins with either the Blanc Slate sauvignon blanc or Rosella rose, followed by three distinctive cabernet sauvignons from Sonoma Mountain. Visitors can also taste rare vintages of Laurel Glen Vineyard’s cabernet sauvignons (spanning at least a decade) from the wine library in a separate tasting.
Address: 13750 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Ledson Winery & Vineyards: Kenwood
Steve Ledson began construction on a house and a vineyard on this beautiful 21-acre Sonoma property in 1989. Ten years later, the 16,000-square-foot Gothic and French Normandy-style “castle” opened as Ledson Winery, surrounded by a 17-acre estate vineyard. The family also owns several other vineyards and produces more than 70 wines. Whether you opt for the Castle Selection tasting in one of three bar venues or the seated Vineyard Selection option, you’ll enjoy handcrafted wines and recommendations from staff. Private wine tastings are held in individual suites and feature six top-rated wines. All tastings require advance reservations.
Address: 7335 state Route 12, Kenwood, CA 95409
Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Estate)
In 1979, Switzerland-born Jean-Jacques Michel planted the original vines at what is now the 100-acre Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate. Situated less than 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the property spans more than 88 acres of benchland vineyards: strips of level land with steep slopes above and below the vineyards. The winery produces more than 15 varietals, including its signature cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot and chardonnay. The Spanish mission-style property, located in Dry Creek Valley, is open for seated estate tastings by reservation only. You’ll have the chance to sample four limited-production wines in the tasting salon for about 90 minutes.
Address: 4155 Wine Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
MacRostie Winery & Vineyards: Healdsburg
(Kathryn MacDonald/Courtesy of MacRostie Winery & Vineyards)
MacRostie Winery & Vineyards was founded by Steve MacRostie in 1987. With winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen, MacRostie produces chardonnay and pinot noir made from grapes sourced from 21 chardonnay vineyards and more than 17 pinot noir sites. These include MacRostie’s Thale’s Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley and the new 74-acre Nightwing Estate Vineyard in the acclaimed Petaluma Gap region. While the MacRostie Estate House is situated in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, the winery’s vineyard program has sites in Green Valley, Carneros, Fort Ross-Seaview, Redwood Valley, Anderson Valley, Santa Maria Valley and Petaluma Gap. Guests can book a seated tasting experience with vineyard and valley views at the estate house (by reservation) that includes information on their vineyards and winemaking process. The experience also features five wines highlighting the single-vineyard chardonnays and pinot noirs from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.
Address: 4605 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Iron Horse Vineyards: Sebastopol
(Courtesy of Iron Horse Vineyards)
Iron Horse Vineyards is a small, family-owned estate winery located in Green Valley, part of the Russian River Valley. Audrey and Barry Sterling fell in love with the picturesque setting in 1976 and purchased the 300 acres two weeks later. The winery is known for its sparkling wines – a favorite at the White House for the last six presidential administrations – and particularly its chardonnay and pinot noir. Guests can sample these wines at Iron Horse’s outdoor “tasting room,” which features panoramic views across Sonoma County with Mount Saint Helena in the distance. All winery visits and tastings are by appointment only.
Address: 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Rodney Strong Vineyards: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Rodney Strong Vineyards)
Rodney Strong, an American dancer, decided to pursue his dream of winemaking when he purchased a 160-acre vineyard in Windsor in 1961. He was the first winemaker to produce a single-vineyard Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon. The current owners, the Klein family, bought the winery in 1989 with the goal of using sustainable farming and winemaking practices to produce premium wines. Rodney Strong has 11 estate vineyards across four AVAs: seven in Alexander Valley, two in Chalk Hill, one in the Russian River Valley and one in Northern Sonoma County. The tasting room offers indoor and seasonal outdoor wine tastings by appointment; patrons can sample a handcrafted flight such as the Rodney Strong Flight, which features five wines. You’ll have the option to add on certain food pairings, including a cheese and charcuterie box, when you make your reservation. The winery also hosts special events, including a summer concert series that features acts like Blues Traveler.
Address: 11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448
J Vineyards & Winery: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of J Vineyards & Winery)
J Vineyards & Winery is located in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and boasts three distinct venues where wine aficionados can experience both estate wines and culinary offerings. The J Bubble Room offers an inventive Sonoma-inspired five-course wine and food pairing menu. Legacy Lounge tastings highlight small-production wines with an optional artisan cheese pairing. The Signature Bar Tasting features five sparkling and varietal wines from the Russian River Valley. J Vineyards also hosts events such as “Shifting the Lens,” a limited culinary series that offers special dinners and wine pairings with guest chefs in summer 2022. All of the tastings, pairings and events require a reservation.
Address: 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery)
Don and Rhonda Carano acquired land in the Alexander Valley AVA and founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in 1981. The winery’s first wines were released six years later – a 1985 Alexander Valley chardonnay and 1986 fume blanc. The 24 certified sustainable vineyards now produce more than 20 white, red and dessert wines. Travelers will want to set aside several hours for visiting this beautiful Tuscan-inspired property. Visitors can wander through the 5 acres of gardens that surround Villa Fiore, the hospitality center, then enjoy a reserve wine tasting in the Enoteca (the “wine library”) in the cellar of Villa Fiore: This flight of five limited-release and reserve wines requires a reservation. Ferrari-Carano Vineyards also offers a classic tasting indoors or outside by appointment. For a special celebration, reserve a spot for La Colazione Italiana, a Sunday brunch and wine experience. The Italian-style menu features a selection of brunch favorites prepared with seasonal ingredients from the estate gardens, a sweet ending to the meal and a flight of reserve wines.
Address: 8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Arrowood Vineyards & Winery: Glen Ellen
Arrowood has been producing Bordeaux-inspired Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon from organic and sustainable vineyards since 1986. Founder Richard Arrowood would search for the most distinctive and terroir-driven vineyards across Sonoma to create his wines – and that tradition continues today. The winery also produces a red blend, Knights Valley malbec, Carneros chardonnay, Saralee’s Vineyard viognier and Alexander Valley sauvignon blanc. The winery is open daily and offers tastings by appointment. The Portfolio Tasting introduces guests to a sampling of Arrowood’s red and white wines, while the Reserve Tasting showcases its single-vineyard and reserve wines. Visitors are allowed to bring a picnic lunch to the property’s Winemaker Veranda, where you can soak in views of the vineyards and estate; call ahead to reserve a table.
Address: 14347 state Route 12, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Ridge Vineyards: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Ridge Vineyards)
Ridge Vineyards is known primarily for its red wines – particularly its cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel – but also produces a small amount of chardonnay. Its Lytton Springs Winery in Dry Creek Valley is surrounded by 115-year-old ancient vines. This sustainable winery is unique in that the building is made of vineyard clay and bales of straw and largely solar-powered. The seated estate tasting at Lytton Springs offers a sampling of five single-vineyard wines with an incredible view of the property. The Century Tour & Library Tasting takes guests around the vineyards while you learn about the history of the estate; current release and older vintage wines are served in a seated tasting at the conclusion of the visit. A seated private tasting of Ridge’s renowned Monte Bello cabernet sauvignon features other wines from its Monte Bello vineyard. An optional charcuterie, cheese and olive board can be purchased to pair with some tastings, all of which require reservations.
Address: 650 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Chalk Hill Estate: Healdsburg
(Courtesy of Chalk Hill Estate)
This beautiful 1,300-acre property was first seen from the air as founder Fred Furth flew his plane over the Russian River in 1972. After viewing the land more closely, he knew the terrain and climate were ideal for growing world-class wine grapes. Chalk Hill Estate is now home to 300 acres of vineyards and a winery, in addition to a hospitality center, a culinary garden, stables, an equestrian center and wilderness areas. Chalk Hill Estate offers guests a Vineyard Overlook Experience with scenic tastings of estate wines by appointment. Visitors can also book a guided tour of the estate in a Hummer, which also includes a walk through its culinary gardens and ends with a wine and food pairing.
Address: 10300 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery: Jenner
Perched atop a coastal ridge along the rugged Sonoma Coast and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the 55 vineyard acres in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA sit at about 920 to 1800 feet above sea level in what is called a distinct “coastal cool” wine-growing area. The winery owners, Lester and Linda Schwartz, purchased the stunning 976 coastal acres in 1988, only farming the grasslands, leaving the pristine forests and meadows untouched. This area is set apart from other Sonoma Coast AVAs by its elevation and proximity to the ocean, creating an optimal environment for farming pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards. Visitors who make an appointment can take the picturesque coastal drive to the winery to sample four of its estate wines paired with small bites prepared with locally sourced ingredients.
Address: 15725 Meyers Grade Road, Jenner, CA 95450
Buena Vista Winery: Sonoma
(Scott Chebegia/Courtesy of Buena Vista Winery)
Founded in 1857 in Sonoma by Hungarian farmer, vintner and business owner Agoston Haraszthy, Buena Vista considers itself California’s first premium winery. Haraszthy, the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista,” is regarded as one of California’s best-known and most flamboyant viticulturalists. Today, the original winery – set in the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma Valley – is a California Historic Landmark. You can visit this beautiful property, now owned by winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset, to tour the winery and sample vintages in the original tasting room. There are several experiences available to reserve at Buena Vista. Take a step back in time while sipping Champagne and sparkling wines at the Bubble Lounge, or opt for the barrel tasting and tour, which includes a walk through the property’s grounds, a visit to the renovated Champagne Cellar, a flight of current-release wines and a sampling of wine from a barrel. For a real treat, splurge on the seated Grand Reserve Tasting.
Address: 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
Ram’s Gate Winery: Sonoma
(Courtesy of Ram’s Gate Winery)
Founded in 2011, this 28-acre estate sits on a hill at the convergence of Napa and Sonoma counties and San Francisco Bay. The property is also located across three AVAs: Sonoma Coast, Carneros and Sonoma Valley. Guests can visit the picturesque winery and enjoy views of the organic vineyards while sampling estate varietals like pinot noir and chardonnay, in addition to the wines produced from other vineyards. Ram’s Gate Winery’s tasting experiences include a casual flight of four wines at the tasting bar, which requires a minimum of two guests. For a more immersive experience, a seasonal wine and food pairing provides more information about the farming and winemaking techniques at the estate. Caviar and Champagne aficionados will want to reserve a spot for the winery’s Caviar Experience: This tasting allows you to select either the reserve or golden caviar, complemented by Ram’s Gate’s traditional sparkling wine and two still wines.
Address: 28700 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
Hamel Family Wines: Sonoma
(Courtesy of Hamel Family Wines)
The Hamel family’s wine adventure began with Pam and George Hamel Jr.’s 2006 purchase of a home in Kenwood in Sonoma Valley with an acre of cabernet sauvignon vines. Now the Hamels make limited-production cabernet sauvignon, cabernet blends and other varietals at their beautiful 124-acre property, estate house and winery about 5 miles north of Sonoma Town Square. The four estate vineyards, located in the Sonoma Valley and Moon Mountains District AVAs, are certified biodynamic and organic. To immerse yourself in the family’s winemaking practices, book the Estate Experience for a private tour of the vineyard, winery and wine cave. Afterward, guests will engage in a seated tasting of four estate series wines and a light snack with views of Sonoma Mountain and the valley. The Reserve Experience includes a multicourse food and wine pairing. Hamel Family Wines also offers a Collectors’ Experience, which combines an informative tour with a private tasting in the cave of several reserve wines and a culinary accompaniment from the chef. These options all require an appointment.
Address: 15401 state Route 12, Sonoma, CA 95476
Matanzas Creek Winery: Santa Rosa
Nestled in the quiet – and beautiful – Bennett Valley AVA of Sonoma County, Matanzas Creek is known primarily for its sauvignon blanc and merlot. The winery, launched in 1977, farms sustainable estate vineyards that also produce small lots of Bordeaux-style red wines, pinot noir and chardonnay. For a casual visit, the winery offers picnic tables and bocce ball court rentals and bottle service with a reservation. The Matanzas Creek Comparative Tasting, another option by reservation, gives you time to explore the stunning lavender fields, vineyards and gardens, followed by a tasting of five wines. You can also reserve the Collectors Tasting to try six wines and compare current releases to the library vintages.
Address: 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards: Sonoma
José Ferrer moved with his wife, Gloria, from Barcelona to Sonoma, California, in the 1980s, bringing his family’s expertise in Spanish sparkling wine to the region. In 1984, the Ferrers planted the initial 50 acres of pinot noir and chardonnay vines in Carneros, opening the winery two years later. Carneros straddles Sonoma and Napa, and the impact of the maritime effects of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean creates the environment for a long growing season – and the optimal terroir to produce sparkling wines. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in 2016 was certified as sustainable. The estate comprises a total of 335 acres spanning two ranches, and guests can visit the winery and sample its sparkling wines with a selection of reservable tours and tastings. The classic experience takes place outdoors in the vista pavilion and includes four wines, with optional food add-ons available for purchase. To learn about the history, sustainability and winemaking methods, Gloria Ferrer’s agricultural tour lets guests explore the vineyards by club car and enjoy a five-course food and wine pairing on the terrace.
Address: 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476