The following road trip to Sonoma Valley occurred in 2014. At the request of friends who are visiting the area, I am posting this blog.
A few weeks ago I toured Sonoma Valley while visiting the Bay area for a family graduation. I have frequented Napa Valley on other trips to the Bay area as it’s a easy one hour drive from San Francisco. Napa has become very popular (and commercialized) with crowded and expensive tasting rooms (fighting for a spot at tasting bar) , busy restaurants with reservations not easy to come by, local traffic and a prevailing attitude among locals and patrons that Napa is something special. That being said, everyone should make at least one visit to Napa and judge for himself.
Sonoma Valley is an additional 15 minute drive from SF. Sonoma County has more open space – it is double the acreage of Napa and a higher percentage is designated farmland. The wineries are more accessible (not crazy busy and more attentive), town-squares not crowded and there is a genuine friendliness reminiscent of California wine country in the 1980’s.
During our four day itinerary we spent nights in Santa Rosa, Mendocino and Sebastopol. We visited the cute towns of Healdsburg and Mendocino, drove north into Anderson Valley and hiked the redwoods forest.
Our journey included 12 winery visits which are listed below. The highlights of our visits were Jordan winery and Benziger winery which are described in separate blogs.
GLORIA FERRER Sonoma Brut ($17)
Sparkling wine from pinot noir with trace of chardonnay, crisp and vibrant.
Great winery for the first visit winery located in Carneros region. Sipping sparkling wine at 10am!
RIDGE Three Valleys 2012, Dry Creek Valley ($21)
Blend of 79% Zinfandel, 12% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouchet
Popular zinfandels with primary winery in Paso Robles
Nice deck seating in vineyards for tasting and picnic lunches
JORDAN Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Alexander Valley ($45)
JORDAN Chardonnay 2012, Russian River Valley ($28)
Elegant French chateau in 1,200 acres of natural habitat
Beautiful estate tour and tasting (appointment required)
BENZIGER Sauvignon Blanc 2012, North Coast ($15)
Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Sonoma ($19)
One of few certified biodynamic & organic wineries in North America
Outstanding tour with many wines for tasting
Healdsburg is quaint town in heart of Sonoma County
Downtown area has many tasting rooms including Kendall-Jackson, Rosenblum Cellars, La Crema, and Murphy-Goode.
Seghesio, ½ mile walk from the plaza, is one of my favorite zinfandel wines.
FERRARI-CARANO Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010,
Alexander Valley ($49)
92 points Wine Advocate
Lavish estate and gardens comparable to opulent Napa estates
IRON HORSE Classic Vintage Brut 2009, Sonoma ($35)
Sparkling blend of estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Produces 12 different cuvees – sparkling, pinot noir, chardonnay
JOSEPH PHELPS, Freestone Vineyards
Parent winery in Napa Valley
Pinot Noir wines estate grown at Freestone
Anderson Valley appellation, 1 ½ hours north of Sonoma county, is best known for Pinot Noirs. Anderson Valley wineries are located on Highway 128 leading to Mendocino. The following wineries are worth a visit:
• Breggo Cellars – Pinot Gris, Gerwurztraminer, Pinot Noir
• Scharffenberger Cellars –outstanding sparkling wines
• Navarro Vineyards is an icon and pioneer of wine-making in Anderson Valley.
GOLDENEYE Pinot Noir 2011, Anderson Valley ($49)
Goldeneye Winery is owned by Duckhorn, Napa
Beautiful, modern winery with outdoor gardens
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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