We're Trippin: Sonoma County Wine Country
When people find out we moved to St. Louis from Sonoma County, it always opens up a great conversation from both sides with mutual wine country admiration. We love to hear your stories of visits and experiences of the place the place we used to call home. Not surprisingly, many people tell us of an upcoming trip CA wine country and will ask for suggestions from our own experiences and list of favorites. So without further ado, let's go....
First and foremost, our heart & soul are in Sonoma County because it is at once always a welcoming, relaxed & playful experience - whether it is an afternoon of tasting or week long getaway.
Starting from our old home base of Santa Rosa, is the Russian River Valley AVA
Within our old neighborhood is Paradise Ridge, known for a wide-ranging portfolio, from its pinot noir to a sparkling blanc de blancs, incredible hilltop setting overlooking Santa Rosa, and renowned sculpture garden.
Further west- and crested on a hill above the town of Sebastopol is Iron Horse Vineyards, one of our favorite things about visiting, is there outdoor tasting room- overlooking the Green Valley.appellation where they have been a pioneer in building a legacy of prestige sparkling wines and estate bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Heading north towards the town of Windsor, is a name that many Pinot & Chardonnay fans will recognize, La Crema. The most spectacular way to enjoy a tasting of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is at te Estate at Saralee's Vineyard- an incredible multi level tasting room surrounded by lush vineyards.
Continuing north again, not to be missed is the experience and legacy of (revered) Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery. Perched above the Russian River Valley, the wines here are more than produced - they are truly crafted with a focus on pure varietal expression.
Other favorite within this AVA are:
North and west of everybody's favorite wine country town of Healdsburg is the
Winding up and along West Dry Creek Road, we always recommend a stop at Quivira Vineyards, with wines that are from 100% CCOF-certified organic estate vineyards, and an ever-changing seasonal garden. They are a leading producer of Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rhone varietals, built upon intentional winegrowing and a thoughtful commitment to sustainable and organic farming. The atmosphere is super chill, yet elegant and relaxed.
Continuing up, up, up to the end of West Dry Creek Road is one of our favorites to recommend: Bella Vineyards And Wine Caves. A family-owned winery, Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves, you're not just a customer, you feel like a guest in their home (a really cool home). The tastings take place in their wine caves- built into the side of the hill, in front of the caves is a sprawling lawn for picnics and on the weekends there is live acoustic music from local bands and games like hoola hoop and corn hole. They are known for their estate grown, small lot Zinfandel- each one being so good- it's difficult to pick a favorite. As special as the wines are, even if you don't stop to taste (but you must), it is the view over looking the entire northwest valley which will take your breath away.
Other favorite winery stops in this AVA are:
Moving on northeast of Healdsburg to the Alexander Valley AVA
The Alexander Valley for one reason or another was always our go-to afternoon getaway- maybe it's the long, meandering roads with vineyards for days in either direction, and the broad vistas from winery decks and porches...
East of Healdsburg on HWY128 is the HANNA tasting room, a great stop for a extensive variety of wines, at four label tiers (from really tasty to award winning) but it is the VIEW which cannot be missed. Plenty of areas to picnic under the oaks, sip some wine and generally- relax.
If there is only one stop here (which would be cruel) it must be Medlock Ames, an absolute, all time favorite of ours.
North of Healdsburg on HWY128, they have organically farmed, vineyards at Bell Mountain Ranch in Alexander Valley for over 20 years with a mindful commitment and the wines they produce are always exceptional, special and approachable. Their historic vineyard tasting room always offer a relaxed experience full of conversations and education. You will leave there wanting to be and feeling like you are part of the family.
We would be totally remiss here if we did not mention a visit to Francis Ford Coppola Winery. In a nutshell, you will discover Wine/Food/Adventure- this is not your average winery destination. Surrounded by the mansion-like winery and visitor buildings, a pool, cabanas, two full bars, a fantastic restaurant and a museum’s worth of movie memorabilia. Oh and of course -a bocce court.
The Alexander Valley AVA is home to many small, larger and famous wineries, a few of our other favorites to recommend are:
Now it's your turn, let us know some of your favorite wineries to visit!