The first stop of my trip (after some serious plane delays!) was Gloria Ferrer. Although I didn't have a lot of time here, I was lucky enough to sample a few things (unless on a tour, they only have glass pours available, but at $5-$10 a glass, a stop here is certainly worth it!). They have a gorgeous property perched atop a hill, just outside downtown Sonoma, with sweeping views of the vineyards. I would recommend the guided tour (daily at 11am, 1pm or 3pm) which is $10 per person and includes two tastes. Their staff is very welcoming and knowledgeable, really enhancing the experience. But the best part is their bubbly! They have a bubbly for EVERYONE. Seriously. I was really impressed with the incredible variety of flavors that were brought out with different bottles. I definitely had my favorite though, the 2000 Carneros Cuvée. It was absolutely incredible..creamy, smooth, and my favorite way to describe it "eminently delicious." If you are bubbly fan, this one is worth the investment!
Another winery I visited is Mauritson Wines. WOW! This place is wonderful. Very small, quaint, family owned with some incredible wines and a great outdoor grass/patio area, perfect for relaxing on a summer day with a glass of wine, or even for a picnic. I must admit, their Zin was one of my favorite wines of the entire trip (I even bought a bottle to bring back to San Francisco to give to the friends I stayed with in the city as a thank you...luckily they opened it while I was there, but it made me wish I'd bought a bottle to bring home). The 2010 Dry Creek Zinfandel from Mauritson was the winner. Mauritson is known for their zins and I can see why.
A few others wineries I visited worth quick shout outs were:
Trione (pronouced Tree-oh-knee)
Ferrari Carano-I didn't taste here but the grounds (and gardens) are absolutely gorgeous!!
Passalacqua (pronounced Paw-Saw-Law-Qwah)
|J Vineyards is known for their delicious bubbly..they even have a "Bubble Room" where you can schedule private sparkling tastings. A gorgeous property with a unique interior, I highly recommend a visit here.|
|Amazing views from Twomey, known for their Pinot Noirs. This stunning tasting room has sweeping views of vineyards and a gorgeous fountain out front. Also available are cheese platters to accompany your tasting experience.|
|Although I didn't taste at Ferrari Carano, the grounds, views and gardens are worth a visit. The property was impeccably manicured with a luxe, European feel. Very beautiful.|
There are SO MANY wineries to choose from in the Sonoma area (over 250!!). While I didn't make it to about 5 or 6 that I had on my original itinerary, I would suggest doing a bit of research before you go as there are some misses in this area. Go with a small plan, then go with the flow. There are so many knowledgeable tasting room people that are more than willing to guide you based on what you enjoy at their winery...so always be honest! Whether you are just starting to like wine or have been drinking it for years, the Sonoma/Healdsburg area is stunning and a VERY different feel from the traditional California Napa tasting experience. I've done both, and while I think I prefer Napa, I had a wonderful time in Sonoma. The hospitality was superb, and we met some great people. I would definitely suggest experiencing this part of California wine country!
Big Money Saving Tip: If you have a Visa Signature card, there are about 80 wineries that offer free or discounted tastings with your card. Many of the wineries I visited were on this list, and were excellent. I would suggest doing some research about this program before making the trip, as it can save you hundreds of dollars!
23555 Arnold Drive Sonoma, CA 95476
2859 Dry Creek Road Healdsburg, CA 95448
19550 Geyserville Avenue Geyserville, CA 95441
11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Healdsburg Location: 3000 Westside Rd Healdsburg, CA 95448
Calistoga Location: 1183 Dunaweal Lane Calistoga, CA 94515
8761 Dry Creek Road Healdsburg, CA 95448
3805 Lambert Bridge Road Healdsburg, CA 95448