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Sip & Savor: 10 Best Wineries of Sonoma County, California

10 Best Wineries of Sonoma County, California

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

grapes for the best wineries in sonoma california

As a wine enthusiast and a fan of California’s beautiful wine country, I have had the pleasure of visiting many wineries in Sonoma County over the years. From the historic cellars of Buena Vista to the stunning modern architecture of Three Sticks, the region is home to some of the best wineries in the world. 

Whether you’re a connoisseur seeking rare vintages or a casual sipper looking for a scenic spot to enjoy a glass of wine, Sonoma County has something for everyone. Join me as I share my list of the 10 best wineries in Sonoma County, California.

An Overview: Sonoma County as a Wine Country

a green winery field of sonoma country for the best wineries

Sonoma County, California, is known worldwide as one of the best wine regions in the world. It is often referred to as “Wine Country” due to its sheer number of wineries and vineyards within its borders. The county has a long and rich history of winemaking, dating back to the early 1800s when Russian settlers first planted grape vines in the area [1].

Today, Sonoma County is home to over 425 wineries, ranging from small family-owned operations to large, internationally recognized brands. The county’s unique geography and climate provide ideal conditions for growing a wide variety of grape varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and many others.

Visitors to Sonoma County can enjoy tastings and tours at many of the region’s top wineries, each with their own unique character and style. Some of the best wineries in Sonoma County include the historic Buena Vista Winery, the elegant Donum Estate, and the sustainably-focused Littorai Wines.

In addition to a range of beautifully crafted tasting rooms, Sonoma County visitors can also participate in a wide range of other activities, such as exploring the area’s beautiful natural landscapes, hiking, biking, and enjoying delicious local cuisine. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Sonoma County has become a mecca for wine enthusiasts from around the world.

10 Best Wineries in Sonoma County

two champagne bottles, a handful of grapes, and a barrel which is in a winery making the best wines around sonoma

Sonoma County is a haven for wine enthusiasts in the heart of California’s wine country. With over 425 wineries, it can be overwhelming to choose where to go. Fear not, for I have compiled a list of the 10 Best Wineries of Sonoma County, California, each offering unique experiences and exceptional wines. 

From the historic Buena Vista Winery to the innovative Three Sticks Wines, there is something for every palate. So grab a glass, sit back, and let’s explore the best Sonoma wineries. This way, you can meticulously plan your next Sonoma wine tasting tour!

Hanzell Vineyards

Location: 18596 Lomita Ave, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 996-3860

Hanzell Vineyards has a long and illustrious history. Founded in 1957, Hanzell was one of the modern California wine industry pioneers. It was the first winery in Sonoma valley to produce a Chardonnay, and its wines quickly gained a reputation for their quality and complexity [2].

Hanzell is renowned for its commitment to quality. The winery takes a meticulous approach to every aspect of winemaking, from vineyard management to barrel aging. The winery’s vineyards are farmed sustainably, and every step of the winemaking process is carefully monitored to ensure that the resulting wines are of the highest possible quality.

Hanzell is located in a prime location for winemaking. The winery’s vineyards are situated on the Mayacamas Mountains’ slopes, providing excellent drainage and ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The winery’s location also offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, making it a popular destination for visitors.

Hanzell offers an immersive and unique wine tasting experience. Visitors to the winery can take part in guided tours of the vineyards and winery and enjoy tastings of the winery’s current releases. The winery’s hospitality team is knowledgeable and passionate, making every visit memorable.

Three Sticks Wines

Location: 143 West Spain Street, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 996-3328

Three Sticks Wines has a strong commitment to sustainability. Three Sticks Wines takes a holistic approach to farm and winemaking, with a focus on regenerative practices that benefit both the land and the community. The winery’s estate vineyards are certified sustainable and organic, and the winery uses solar power to offset its energy consumption.

Three Sticks Wines produces exceptional wines. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and its wines have won numerous awards and accolades. The winery takes a minimal intervention approach to winemaking, allowing the terroir to express itself in the wines.

Three Sticks Wines offers a unique and immersive wine tasting experience. The winery’s historic Adobe tasting room, located in the heart of Sonoma, provides guests a welcoming and intimate environment. Visitors can enjoy tastings of the winery’s current releases and take part in guided tours of the estate vineyards and winery.

Three Sticks Wines has a strong commitment to philanthropy. The winery donates a portion of its proceeds to support local organizations and causes, including sustainable agriculture, education, and the arts.

Donum Estate

Location: 24520 Ramal Road, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 732-2200

Donum Estate is dedicated to producing exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that truly express the terroir of Sonoma County. The winery sources its grapes from carefully selected vineyards in the region and uses a combination of traditional and modern winemaking techniques to craft its wines.

Donum Estate places a strong emphasis on sustainability and responsible farming practices. The winery’s estate vineyards are farmed using organic and biodynamic methods, with a focus on preserving the natural ecosystem and promoting biodiversity. The winery is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint and has implemented several energy-efficient practices, such as solar power and water conservation.

Donum Estate offers a unique and immersive wine tasting experience. The winery’s main tasting room, situated on a picturesque hilltop overlooking the vineyards, provides a stunning backdrop for visitors to sample the winery’s current releases. Guests can also take part in guided vineyard tours and tastings and enjoy private tastings in the winery’s various art galleries, which showcase works from some of the world’s leading contemporary artists.

Donum Estate has a strong commitment to philanthropy and supporting the local community. The winery donates a portion of its proceeds to various charities and causes, including those that promote sustainable agriculture, education, and the arts.

Hamel Family Wines

Location: 15401 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 996-5800

Hamel Family Wines is dedicated to producing exceptional wines that showcase the unique terroir of Sonoma County. Hamel Family Wines sources its grapes from carefully selected vineyards throughout the region, and the winemaking team employs a combination of traditional and modern techniques to craft elegant and expressive wines.

Hamel Family Wines is committed to sustainability and responsible farming practices. The winery’s estate vineyards are farmed using organic and biodynamic methods, with a focus on preserving the natural ecosystem and promoting biodiversity. The winery also uses renewable energy sources and has implemented several water conservation and waste reduction programs.

Hamel Family Wines offers a unique and immersive wine tasting experience. The winery’s stunning estate, which includes a state-of-the-art winery, a tasting room, and a hospitality center, provides guests with breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains. Visitors can enjoy guided tours and tastings, private wine and food pairings, and even take part in winemaking workshops.

Hamel Family Wines has a strong commitment to philanthropy and supporting the local community. The winery donates a portion of its proceeds to various charitable organizations and causes, including those that promote environmental conservation, education, and healthcare.

Ridge Vineyards

Location: 650 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 433-7721

Ridge Vineyards is renowned for its exceptional quality wines that are made with a focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. Ridge Vineyards has been practicing organic and sustainable farming methods for over 30 years and is committed to preserving the biodiversity of its vineyards. This results in wines that reflect the unique terroir of the region and showcase the best of Sonoma County.

Ridge Vineyards is committed to the traditional winemaking methods that have been used in the region for centuries. The winery uses only native yeasts and ages its wines in oak barrels for extended periods to develop complex and nuanced flavors. The winery also uses a combination of modern and traditional winemaking techniques to craft its wines.

Ridge Vineyards offers a unique and immersive seated wine tasting experience. Visitors can take a guided tour of the winery and vineyards and taste a variety of wines in the tasting room, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The winery also offers private tastings and educational seminars for wine enthusiasts.

Ridge Vineyards is committed to supporting the local community and promoting cultural and environmental conservation efforts. The winery is a member of several environmental and cultural organizations and supports local charitable causes through donations and fundraising efforts.

Kistler Vineyards

Location: 1370 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 942-1539

Kistler Vineyards has a strong commitment to producing exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. The winemaking team uses sustainable farming practices, carefully selects the best fruit from their estate vineyards, and uses a minimalist approach to winemaking to produce wines that are true to their terroir.

Kistler Vineyards has a long-standing reputation for quality. The winery was founded in 1978 by Steve Kistler, who had previously worked at Ridge Vineyards. Over the years, Kistler has earned numerous accolades for their wines, including high scores from wine critics and recognition as one of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 Wineries.

Kistler Vineyards offers a unique tasting experience for visitors. The winery is located in a picturesque setting in the Russian River Valley and has a beautiful tasting room with a scenic outdoor patio. Guests can sample Kistler’s current releases and library wines, learn about the winery’s history and winemaking philosophy, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Williams Selyem Winery

Location: 7227 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 433-6425

Williams Selyem Winery has a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines that are highly sought after by wine enthusiasts and collectors around the world. Williams Selyem Winery has access to some of the best vineyards in the Russian River Valley and beyond, which allows them to consistently produce wines with a unique sense of place and exceptional depth of flavor.

The winery is committed to sustainable and organic farming practices, ensuring that the grapes used to make their wines are of the highest quality and free from harmful chemicals. Williams Selyem Winery has a talented and experienced winemaking team led by Jeff Mangahas, who carefully crafts each wine to express the true character of the grapes and the terroir. 

This attention to detail and dedication to quality has earned Williams Selyem Winery numerous accolades and awards over the years, solidifying its place as one of the best wineries in Sonoma County, California.

Littorai Wines

Location: 788 Gold Ridge Road, Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (707) 823-9586

Littorai Wines focuses on organic and biodynamic farming practices. The winery is deeply committed to sustainability, and its vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic. This means they rely on natural pest control and soil fertility methods rather than synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. By adopting these practices, Littorai Wines is able to produce wines that are not only high-quality but also environmentally responsible.

The winery similarly focuses on small production and single-vineyard wines. Littorai Wines believes that the best wines are made from grapes that are grown in specific microclimates and soil types. As such, the winery produces small-batch wines from single vineyards, allowing them to showcase each vineyard’s unique characteristics. 

This approach also enables the winemakers to be highly selective about the grapes they use, resulting in consistent and high-quality wines. Littorai Wines is also known for its commitment to minimal intervention winemaking techniques. This means that the winery uses traditional winemaking methods, including natural fermentation and aging in oak barrels, to allow the grapes to express themselves fully. 

The winemakers take a hands-off approach, allowing the grapes to guide the winemaking process, resulting in expressive, nuanced wines that reflect the terroir. Littorai Wines has a passionate and talented winemaking team led by owner and winemaker Ted Lemon. Lemon is widely regarded as one of the best winemakers in California and is known for his meticulous attention to detail and commitment to quality. 

His approach to winemaking has helped establish Littorai Wines as one of the premier wineries in Sonoma County and beyond. All of these factors contribute to Littorai Wines’ status as one of the best wineries in Sonoma County, known for producing complex, nuanced wines that reflect the terroir.

Merry Edwards Winery

Location: 2959 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (888) 388-9050

Merry Edwards Winery is widely regarded as one of the best wineries in Sonoma County due to its commitment to producing high-quality Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines that showcase the unique terroir of the region. Founded in 1997 by Merry Edwards, a highly respected winemaker with more than 40 years of experience in the industry, the winery has garnered numerous awards and accolades for its wines.

One key factor that sets Merry Edwards Winery apart is its focus on sustainable and environmentally responsible practices. The winery is certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and is also certified by Fish Friendly Farming, which promotes practices that protect local fish and wildlife habitats. 

The winery uses solar power to generate a portion of its energy needs and has implemented water conservation measures to minimize its environmental impact. In terms of winemaking, Merry Edwards Winery is known for its meticulous attention to detail and focus on crafting wines that express the unique character of the region. 

The winery sources grapes from some of the best vineyards in Sonoma County, including the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. The winemaking process involves careful sorting of the grapes, gentle handling to preserve the fruit’s natural flavors, and aging in French oak barrels to add complexity and depth to the wines.

One of the winery’s signature wines is its Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, which is renowned for its rich, fruit-forward flavors and elegant balance. The wine is aged for up to 16 months in French oak barrels, resulting in a complex wine with black cherry, raspberry, and spice notes. Merry Edwards Winery also produces a highly regarded Sauvignon Blanc that is known for its vibrant acidity and crisp, refreshing flavors.

Buena Vista Winery

Location: 18000 Old Winery Rd, Sonoma County, California

Telephone Number: (800) 926-1266

Buena Vista Winery has a rich history and is considered the oldest commercial winery in California. Founded in 1857 by the Hungarian-born Count Agoston Haraszthy, Buena Vista has played a pivotal role in shaping the wine industry in California. The winery’s founder was responsible for bringing many European grape varieties to the United States, including Zinfandel, and was a pioneer in the use of oak barrels for aging wine.

Today, Buena Vista Winery is known for producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique terroir of Sonoma County. The winery’s location in the Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, which are the primary varietals that Buena Vista focuses on. The winery’s vineyards are sustainably farmed, and the winemaking team uses traditional and modern techniques to produce elegant, balanced, and expressive wines.

One of the unique aspects of Buena Vista Winery is its wine caves. The winery’s founder, Count Haraszthy, was a visionary and understood the importance of aging wine in a cool, dark environment. He built the first wine caves in California at Buena Vista. Today, visitors can tour these historic caves and see where the winery’s wines are aged.

FAQs

What wine is Sonoma County known for?

Sonoma County is known for producing a wide variety of high-quality wines. However, some of the most famous wines from the region are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sonoma County is also renowned for its Zinfandel, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

The region is unique because it has a range of microclimates, which allow for producing many different types of wines. Additionally, the diversity of soil types in the area contributes to the complexity and character of the wines produced in Sonoma County.

What is the oldest winery in Sonoma?

The oldest winery in Sonoma is Buena Vista Winery. It was founded in 1857 by a Hungarian immigrant named Agoston Haraszthy, who is considered the “Father of California Viticulture.” Haraszthy brought over 100,000 cuttings of European grape varieties to California and established the first premium winery in the state. 

Buena Vista Winery was the first commercial winery in California, and it played a significant role in shaping the state’s wine industry. The winery’s historic stone buildings and vineyards are still in use today, and visitors can enjoy tastings and tours of the property.

Which wineries are better: Sonoma or Napa?

It’s difficult to say which wineries are better between Sonoma and Napa as both regions have unique characteristics and offer different experiences for wine lovers. Napa is known for its prestigious, high-end wineries with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon.

Meanwhile, Sonoma has a more diverse range of wineries and is known for producing a variety of grape varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what kind of wine experience you’re looking for.

What is the difference between Napa and Sonoma wines?

Napa and Sonoma are two of the most famous wine regions in California. While they are located close to each other and share some similarities, they also have distinct differences. One of the main differences between Napa and Sonoma wines is the grape varietals that are grown in each region. 

Napa Valley is known for its full-bodied, bold red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. On the other hand, Sonoma County is known for its diversity of grape varietals, producing everything from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc to Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

Another difference is the terroir or the natural environment in which the grapes are grown. Napa Valley has a warmer climate, with long, hot summers and cooler nights. In contrast, Sonoma County has a more moderate climate with cooler temperatures and more fog. This difference in climate affects the grape-growing season, resulting in grapes with different characteristics.

The winemaking styles in each region also differ. Napa Valley wineries tend to use more new oak barrels in the aging process, which can add flavors of vanilla and spice to the wine. Sonoma County wineries tend to use a higher percentage of neutral oak barrels, which allow the natural flavors of the grape to shine through.

References

  1. https://www.sonomacounty.com/regions/wine-country
  2. https://www.sonomacounty.com/wineries/hanzell-vineyards
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