Top 10 wineries in Sonoma County
From pools at Francis Ford Coppola to spectacular views at Armida to live Tenor Music at VJB Cellars, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Regardless of which winery you pick, you’ll find a relaxed vibe that the region is known for. On your next wine-tasting outing, create a route on Wine Routes and add these 10 best wineries to your list.
Below are the 10 best wineries to experience in Sonoma County.
You can customize your own route to include these wineries and others at www.wineroutes.com
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One of the best winery views in Sonoma County!
Located minutes from the Healdsburg Plaza in the hills just west of Westside Road, Armida Winery’s tasting room is a geodesic dome with a large viewing window to the south, encompassing a panoramic view of the Russian River appellation and the Mayacama mountain range beyond.
Just outside the tasting room door, the winery has a large area that provides guests outdoor picnic areas, all with the same gorgeous views found in the tasting room but without any walls or windows! The patio is huge so the tables aren’t crowded on top of one another.
The east side of the deck is skewered by the trunk of a 60-foot oak tree, its limbs, and leaves providing shade to this side of the deck. Below that side of the deck is a lawn, sloping toward the bocce ball court, the pond and the view. To the west of the patio and behind the parking lot is the Oakhill picnic area with four redwood picnic tables and benches. This area is protected by trees on the west side so it is sunny in the morning and shady in the afternoon.
Armida’s handcrafted wines come from some of the best vineyards in Sonoma County, including Maple Vineyards Zinfandel and Maple Vineyards Tina’s Block (perhaps Dry Creek’s most coveted Zin Block), Durell Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Parmelee-Hill Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, Castelli Knight Ranch Pinot Noir, Gold Mine Ranch Zinfandel, and Bacigalupi Vineyard Pinot Noir. They recently added Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to their portfolio which will be released next year.
Bocce Ball is yet another fun thing you can do while visiting Armida. Their full-size bocce ball court is ideally situated against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Russian River Valley. Overlooking rosebeds, ponds, vineyards, and the valley below, you’ll have a hard time keeping your eye on the ball. On busy weekends competition gets pretty fierce as the wine flows and the good times roll. Don’t be shy, enjoy a bottle or two or three, bring a picnic and PLAY BALL!
Casting the Spell
Tucked into the forest on a tranquil bench above the Grey Palm vineyard in beautiful Dry Creek Valley, Cast Wines grows and crafts wines in limited quantities, highlighting the best grape sources of Sonoma County. The property’s spellbinding views and laid back, seated tasting experience combine to offer an authentic wine country visit recalling a simpler time. The first time the owners visited the property, they observed formations of migrating birds, felt the cool afternoon breeze on their shoulders, heard the distant frogs begin to sing and then, just as the sunset behind Bradford Mountain, a lone coyote began to howl in the distance as if to say…” what are you waiting for?” A spell was Cast at that very moment (as well as a name) and the course was set.
We recommend the Cast Experience Tour which is a full immersion experience of beauty and information. The tour is an in-depth walk through the vineyards and small working winery. Upon arrival, you will toast with sparkling Blanc de Noirs to get the visit started off right.
With a glass in hand, you will embark upon a walk through the Grey Palm Vineyard where you will be treated to one of the best views in Dry Creek Valley. Tour guides will discuss what goes into sustainable farming practices and you will see how the grapes are nurtured and prepared for harvest – everything by hand. The next stop will be the winery crush pad and an overview of the harvesting steps in the winemaking process – paired with another wine. You will then proceed to the fermentation tank area and into our barrel aging room.
Each step of the way you will be guided by Cast’s knowledgeable winery team who will share interesting facts about the winery and the winery’s approach. The experience will finish with a seated tasting of reserve wines accompanied by a cheese and charcuterie plate. As an added option, with ample notice, you can order box lunches for your party.
9280 HWY 128, Healdsburg, CA 95448 | 707.431.4310| Hours 10-4 daily |Classic Tasting of 5 wines – $15 per person, no reservation required, up to 6 guests | Premier Tasting of 5 wines – $22 per person, no reservation required, up to 6 guests |Private tasting $25 | Picnic under the Oak Tree $45 | Vip Gallery Tasting $25 | Wine and Cheese Paring $35
HANNA Winery thrives on Sonoma’s world-class diversity of climate, topography, and geology. For a small, quality-focused family winery, it boasts a stunning collection of long-held vineyards – from the cool Russian River Valley to the sunny Alexander Valley to the rugged Moon Mountain appellation high in the Mayacamas.
HANNA Winery was founded in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna, who was eager to find a place in the country to continue the farming heritage of his upbringing. Now in its fourth decade, Hanna is as loyal to its supporters as it is to the terroir – as intent as ever on exploring and capturing the heart of Sonoma to share it with wine enthusiasts across the US.
It isn’t just the locations that make HANNA’s vineyards special, although that certainly is a big part of the equation. Just as important is the knowledge and insight the HANNA family has gained through decades of farming these parcels, season by season. It all started with 12 acres in the Russian River Valley, purchased in 1985, and the family’s holdings now total 600 acres, 230 planted to vines.
Red Ranch Vineyard has 88 acres planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec & Petit Verdot. The red loam soils and warm climate in this area are ideal for red Bordeaux varieties.
Russian River Valley
Home Ranch Vineyards is the flagship vineyard with 25 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as the winery production facility. Slusser Road Vineyard is in the heart of the Russian River Valley, with 50 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Bismark Mountain Vineyard is high in the Sonoma Mayacamas Mountains in the new Moon Mountain AVA. The high elevations and rocky volcanic soil bring out the character of the fruit in 67 planted acres, which are devoted to the Bordeaux varieties and Zinfandel.
300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441 | (707) 857-1471 | Hours 11-5 daily | First Flight Tasting $20-$25 | Sonoma Inclusive Tasting $20 | Guided Tasting Experience $25-$30 | Bottling Ballet Mecanique $10 | Private Tastings $35-$40 | Private Tour and Tasting $45-$50 | *Wine Family membership discounts and benefits are extended for up to four people total.
2017 Winery of the Year – Cinema | Wine | Food | Hideaways & Adventure
Rounding out our 10 Best Wineries to Visit in Sonoma County is Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Winemaking has been a Coppola family tradition for several generations. Agostino Coppola, Francis Coppola’s grandfather, used to make wine in the basement of his New York apartment building using concrete vats he constructed himself. According to Francis’s Uncle Mikey, they weren’t fancy wines, just pleasant everyday drinking wines that anyone could enjoy.
The wines that Francis Coppola makes today aren’t the same as those Agostino made, but they are produced in the same spirit—for sharing with friends and family.
Over 35 years ago, when Francis and Eleanor Coppola and their kids were living in San Francisco, the family began looking for a small cottage in Napa Valley that they could use as a weekend retreat where they could make a little homemade wine. The family cottage they found turned out to be the great Niebaum Mansion in Rutherford, on the famed Inglenook Estate. Suddenly, the prospect of restoring that legendary property sounded far more exciting than making a little bit of wine in the basement.
Once they had successfully accomplished the estate’s restoration—a 30-year endeavor—the Coppola family decided to build a new winery in Sonoma County so that at long last they could create a home for their ever-popular Diamond Collection and Rosso & Bianco wine brands. Since these wines have always reflected the gracious style of everyday living, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is now the ideal place for friends and family to enjoy award-winning wines, a bite to eat, and simply relax in a comfortable, casual setting.
4960 Red Winery Rd, Geyserville, CA 95441 | (707) 431-4811 | Hours 10-4:30 daily | Barn Tasting $20 | Cellar Patio Experience $30 | Cellar Library Experience $50 | Barrel Cave Experience $50 | Barn Tasting fees are waived with the minimum purchase of two bottles. For Parties of 6 or more, we request a call and the $20 tasting fee is non-refundable | Patio is dog-friendly for supervised, well-behaved dogs
Taste with the first family to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in all of Alexander Valley!
Located in the heart of Alexander Valley, Robert Young Estate is among the most honored winegrowing properties in the world. The ranch is planted with 287 acres of benchland and hillside vineyards, containing three main grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Nine other varieties thrive on the ranch in lesser quantities. A variety of vineyards contain 9 specific soil types of sandstone, shale, oceanic crust and sediment, each providing well-drained and uniquely diverse beds for the vines.
Robert Young was one of the first to plant French Dijon Chardonnay clones in Alexander Valley. After many years working with many different clones, Robert decided to create a hybrid clone taking the Dijon Clone of France and combining it with the Wente Clone found here in California. The resulting Robert Young Clone 17 Chardonnay is a distinctive clone that has many positive attributes in the resulting wines: lifted aromatics, rich textural body and flavor intensity. They currently make three different estate-grown Chardonnays, all with distinctive flavor profiles achieved from clonal selection, site-specificity, winemaking techniques, and barrel treatment.
In 1963 Robert Young was the first to plant the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal in Alexander Valley. Today, they source all of their Cabernet Sauvignon from estate blocks situated in the hillsides that lie between 500-600 feet elevation above the Alexander Valley floor. They farm their vineyards using low yield, sustainable methods and handpick 100% of the fruit during harvest. Their Cabernet Sauvignons are known for their power and structure, with intense flavors allowing for the wine to be aged 24-26 months in French oak barrels.
Robert Young makes only 100% Estate wines, including all of the five classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. These varietals thrive in the Alexander Valley, much like they do in the Bordeaux region in France. All Robert Young Estate Winery vineyards are grown in small blocks throughout the hillsides, taking advantage of ideal growing conditions that foster low yields, berry maturation with balanced fruit intensity. They occasionally blend their Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec or Petit Verdot grapes into their Cabernet Sauvignons, but also like to make each one of these classic Bordeaux varietals into their own distinctive, single-site wines.
25 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448 | (707) 433-0870 | Hours 10-5 daily | Open by Appointment – hosted tasting in a seated environment | Tastings last approximately one hour and the fee is $50 per guest. Customized, private tastings are available starting at $75 per guest | Tasting fee independent of wine purchase
Located in Healdsburg, the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, Ramey Wine Cellars is convenient to the area’s many attractions – shopping, biking, hiking, golf, kayaking and some of the finest restaurants you’ll find anywhere.
David Ramey spent his early career creating benchmark wines for such wineries as Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus, and Rudd. With that impressive resume, David and his wife Carla founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996.
Located amidst the natural charm of Healdsburg, Ramey Wine Cellars embodies the balance that is the essence of California wine:
- Absolute attention to the tiniest detail, balanced by a willingness to trust nature’s sometimes unpredictable impulses.
- A philosophy rooted in traditional methods combined with an eagerness to explore exciting innovations in the industry.
- The belief that life is for living, wine is for sharing, and harmony is essential to both.
5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, CA 95439 | 707.571.7500 | Hours 10-5 daily | Wine and Food Pairing $41.25-$50 | Wine and Chocolate Pairing $18.75-$25 | Wine and Cheese Pairing $22.50-$30 | Reserve Tasting $15 | Estate Tasting $20 | Garden Tour and Tasting $25 | Private Experience – Call
Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay among Wine Spectator Top 100 Jackson Family Wines
(JFW) is a family-owned company that crafts award-winning wines of distinct character and quality. With a focus on sustainable viticulture practices, responsible vineyard and natural resource management and unparalleled winemaking, the family’s portfolio comprise more than 40 renowned wineries. In addition to their acclaimed California producers, JFW includes fine wines from France, Chile, Italy, and Australia.
Founded in 1982 by wine pioneer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jess Jackson, JFW and its various wineries are led by chairman & proprietor Barbara Banke and the Jackson family. The Kendall-Jackson Estate Gardens offer seven distinct garden spaces. Some are educational in nature; some planted solely for beauty. Still, others provide the fruit, vegetables, and herbs that inspire the Food & wine pairings created by our Culinary Team. A veritable cornucopia of beauty and flavor, the gardens are a core component of our commitment to food and wine education.
2191 Laguna Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 | (707) 823-2404 | Hours 10-5 daily | Winemakers’s Flight $20 | Pavilion Tasting $45 |Noble Tasting $20 | Tour & Tasting $20 | Picnic Lunch $45 | Estate Lunch $60
Most people driving along Laguna Rd recognize both the Water Tower and beautiful flowers fronting this winery. The simple A-frame architecture of the tasting room may not be as flashy as other nearby wineries, but as the saying goes, it’s what’s inside that counts. Once visitors pass by the picnic, bocce ball and cornhole gaming area they will know they have found a diamond in the rough. The comfortable, unassuming location will have you and guests enjoying the wine in no time.
The winery is located in the heart of the Russian River Valley and produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Today, Wine Maker Courtney Benham and his winemaking team devote themselves to Ray’s ideology of making “wines of place”. By sourcing from hillside vineyards, they are relentless at telling the story of each exceptional appellation and vineyard.
The depth of the portfolio offers those seeking a unique experience the chance to explore some of the most revered appellations in California.
1400 Lytton Springs Rd, Healdsburg, CA | 800-501-8466 | Hours 10-5 daily | Traditional $15 | Lounge $25 | Garden $25 | VIP 6 hour Tour $600
Few top 10 wineries set out to make cult wines, and probably fewer earn a widespread following as well. There is no doubt that Mazzocco has made the top 10 best wineries. Mazzocco Founders Ken and Diane Wilson made their entry in the Dry Creek Valley as Grape Growers, planting their first vineyards high in the mountains of the northern part of the Dry Creek Valley Appellation.
Today visitors sample wines at the horseshoe inspired tasting bar which is stocked with current releases and wines found only at the tasting room. Depending on the weather, visitors can sip wines outdoors under a covered patio and enjoy views of the vineyard. Each month local bands and caterers come onsite to play music and keep bellies full.
If you visit during the spring wildflowers line the driveway and it makes for a great photo op. Check their website regularly as they have a lot of club related events going on throughout the year. The Wilson’s have 14 or 15 brands and know how to throw a proper party.
700 Grove Street, Healdsburg, CA | 707-395-3615 | Classic Tasting $20 | Cellar Flight $40 | Chef’s Table $80 | Private/Custom Price Varies – Reservation Required
Located just off the beaten path in Healdsburg, Ca – Seghesio Family Vineyards has been part of the history and fabric of Sonoma County since 1895 – a testament to the indomitable will of a man, his wife, their family, and their determination to persevere against incredible odds. Through five generations, their stewardship of the land and craftsmanship of handcrafted wines has paid tribute to those who came before them.
Seghesio Family Vineyards specializes in Sonoma County Zinfandel and Italian variety wines made from estate-owned and farmed vineyards, including those Edoardo and Angela first planted in the late 1800s.
Seghesio’s intent is to create wines that embody Sonoma’s regional distinctiveness. Ted, the head winemaker, will tell you his goal is to make wines that people seek out.
When it comes to events, Seghesio never misses a beat. They participate in fan favorites like Passport to Dry Creek Valley, Centennial Club Release Party, Home Ranch Vineyard Hike, Experience Alexander Valley, and Chef Dinner’s located on the property.
60 Shaw Ave, Kenwood, CA |707-833-2300 | Tasting Room $15 | Piazza Tasting $35 by appointment only |Owner’s Tasting $125 by appointment only
For so many Italian families, traditions are important. For the Belmonte family, the owners of VJB Vineyards and Cellars, that’s most certainly true, and it’s those treasured traditions combined with the relaxed California lifestyle they’ve come to love that they share with guests to their winery since 2003.
VJB, which looks like a Tuscan-Style Villa, houses the tasting room but most guests find their way outdoors and on to the courtyard where they sip, sniff and taste popular Montepulciano and Aglianico wines. The winery offers a Cucina with Artisan Cheeses, Imported Salami, Fresh Local Bread, Panini Sandwiches, Green Salads, Homemade Mozzarella, Olive Oil, Illy Espresso, and Oven Fired Pizzas.
In the summer of 2012, VJB Vineyards and Cellars celebrated its grand opening. With a portfolio of more than 15 wines including several Italian varietals rarely produced in California, coupled with wood oven pizzas and the wonderful, home-style Italian food, VJB quickly became a must-visit destination in the Sonoma Valley.
Check VJB’s events tab as they have unique events every weekend. The tenors perform every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-1:30pm starting the last weekend in April. Make sure to grab your seat early so you don’t miss the show!