Sonoma Wineries can be divided into three sections: South Sonoma, The Russian River, and
Northern Sonoma. Each has its own perfect alchemy for growing generous and diverse vineyards.
The town of Sonoma itself is home to tasting rooms and several large wineries, including Sebastiani.
Sonoma town is a pretty buzzing place. Fool around the plaza and explore the small wineries in local tasting rooms and restaurants. Then head north out of Sonoma through Highway 12. (Want less traffic? Take the western parallel route of Arnold Drive.) Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon is Highway 12, running north/south in southern Sonoma County.
Some good choices for wine tasting include: Domaine Carneros, Cline Cellars, Chateau St. Jean, Benziger Family Winery (great tour), Mayo (fabulous pairings), Gundlach Bundschu (history), Buena Vista (more history!), Ravenswood (hands on) and Gloria Ferrer (atmosphere to spare). There are countless others. The towns in the Valley of the Moon, from south to north, include Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. Enjoy the champagne, pinot, and chardonnay.
The soil, sun, primeval redwoods and people of the Russian River Valley, in the west part of Sonoma County, create an entirely different experience and atmosphere. The towns here are Guerneville, Monte Rio, Rio Nido, Sebastopol, Graton, Forestville and Duncan Mills. Some of our favorite Russian River wineries include: Korbel Champagne Cellars (great tour, tasting, and deli), Foppiano (they continued through prohibition), J Vineyards, Rodney Strong, Hop Kiln, Hartford Family (off the beaten path), and Iron Horse. Again, there are at least three myriad more that we truly love.
Sonoma Wineries in the north include those in Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. The main towns are Healdsburg (a gem), and Geyserville. There is rustic charm in these valleys and hills. The air is warmer, and it smells different than the rest of the county. Along with some grand wineries, there are plenty of family wineries, picnic areas and fantastic food. Some of our favorite wineries in this northern area of Sonoma include: Ferrari-Carano (complete with pink Italianate mansion), Ridge, Dry Creek, Michel-Schlumberger, Quivira, Bella, and Alexander Valley Vineyards (wonderful!). Don’t forget to enjoy a unique afternoon at Kendall—Jackson, complete with a maze of herb gardens.
Sonoma County is laid back, brilliant, gorgeous, steeped in history, and she knows how to laugh. Explore each region and see which holds the most magic for you. Sonoma is filled with incomparable beauty.