The 8 Best Wine Tasting Spots in Sonoma

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The town of Sonoma is full of tasting rooms pouring a diverse range of wines, including classic Sonoma County Chardonnay, bold Zinfandels, and experimental Italian varieties. The majority of the tasting rooms are centered around the town’s beating heart, Sonoma Plaza, so a day of tasting couldn’t be easier: simply park your car, pick a winery, taste, and repeat.

Day 1

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Wineries / Sonoma

Three Sticks Wines

If you’re looking for magic in Sonoma, look no further than The Adobe at Three Sticks Wines. The beautifully restored adobe house is the oldest continuously occupied residence in California, originally built in 1842, and makes the perfect backdrop for Three Sticks Wines’ exquisite wines. The rich, balanced Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs hail from some of Sonoma County’s best vineyards. Three Sticks also dabbles in some heavier reds, including a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and an intriguingly rustic red blend, Castañada, which is splashed when you arrive.

Insider Tip

Be sure to check out the bathrooms. We’re not kidding, they are stunning—you’ll want to move in immediately.

Directions

Walk to the north end of Sonoma Plaza, turn left onto Spain Street, and look for the low, white adobe building on the left.

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Wineries / Sonoma

Hawkes Cellars - Sonoma

Hawkes Cellars embodies what people love about Sonoma County: honest, down-to-earth winemaking with a bit of irreverence and humor thrown in for good measure. Stephen Hawkes began farming grapes in 1971, and in 2002 his son Jacob Hawkes joined him to make the wine. Both father and son bring their varied life experience—discovering the magic of old saxophones, being a metal worker in Oakland, etc.—to the cellar to create wines loaded with character, inside and out. They specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, so if you’re a Cab fan, this laid back tasting room is your mecca.

Insider Tip

If you really want to get the dirt on Hawkes Cellars, schedule a Library Tasting or Rare Single Vineyards tasting in the vineyards on their home ranch.

Directions

From Three Sticks Wines, turn right on Spain St., walk to 1st St. West, turn left and walk half a block. The tasting room is on your left.

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Wineries / Sonoma

WALT Wines

Kathryn Hall, founder of HALL Winery in Napa Valley and former U.S. ambassador to Austria, founded WALT Wines in 2007 with brothers Roger and Richard Roessler. Their goal was to make classic Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and they have succeeded admirably. You can taste the wines in the cute house-turned-tasting room a block north of Sonoma Plaza. The atmosphere is pure Sonoma: welcoming, relaxed, and fun.

Insider Tip

Sign up for their Appellation Exploration classes, where you’ll learn about everything from soil types to the best modern viticultural practices, all while tasting wines that complement the lesson.

Directions

Look across the street from Hawkes Cellars, and you’ll see WALT Wines.

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Day 2

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Wineries / Kenwood

Enkidu Wines

Enkidu Wines' spare and elegant tasting room, just south of Sonoma Plaza, will introduce you to some of Sonoma County’s most concentrated wines. Named for a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh who stays true to his roots, Enkidu makes a variety of wines—Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Barbera—all of which are delicious. Owner and winemaker Phil Staehle earned his winemaking chops in Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards throughout California, and it shows in his commitment to vineyard expression and full-bodied wines.

Insider Tip

Be sure to try the Bedrock Zinfandel. It’s a luscious, inky wine from one of Sonoma’s best vineyards and is a confirmation of Sonoma’s stellar reputation for Zinfandel.

Directions

From Rumpus Cellars, turn left, walk down E Napa St. to Broadway and take a left. The tasting room is on your left in a few steps.

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Wineries / Sonoma

MacLaren Tasting Lounge

MacLaran Tasting Lounge specializes in cool-climate Syrah, producing spicy, elegant wines from small parcels throughout Sonoma County. Winemaker and owner Steve Law hails from Scotland, but lived in France for 10 years, where he picked up the art of translating terroir into the glass. The low-key, fun tasting room just off of Sonoma Plaza is certainly worth a stop, especially if Steve is there to pour the wine himself, which he often is.

Insider Tip

While the focus is on the Syrah, the Sauvignon Blanc is a must-try too, and a great way to ease into the tasting.

Directions

Exit Enkidu Wines through the back, which puts you in a courtyard with MacLaran Wine Company, directly to your right.

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Wineries / Sonoma

Bryter Estates

Husband and wife team Bryan and Terri (Bry-Ter, get it?) Ignozzi founded the winery in 2007, and have since made it one of the most hospitable places in Sonoma. They produce Sonoma County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also make Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, so you can get a taste of the “other side.” Stop by for a casual tasting or a more in-depth guided flight.

Insider Tip

Be on the lookout for the tasting room’s mascot, Zoe, the “World Famous Winery Dog.”

Directions

Walk straight out of MacLaran Tasting Lounge, bear to the right through the plaza, and BRYTER Estates Winery will be on your left.

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Wineries / Sonoma

Passaggio Wines

Passaggio’s wide range of wines makes it a great place for a diverse group of tasters or Sonoma newcomers. Sonoma classics like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot are not in short supply, but they also make many interesting Italian varieties, including Roussanne, Sangiovese, and Barbera. The tasting room is located in the Sonoma Court Shops, a hidden mini plaza off of Sonoma Plaza, and founder and winemaker Cindy Cosco is often there to pour a glass and share her story.

Insider Tip

Be sure to enjoy the outdoor patio, with comfortable seating and an Italian-inspired fountain.

Directions

Directly next door to BRYTER Estates Winery, one door north.

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Things To Do / Sonoma

Sigh

Named for the sound a bottle of sparkling wine makes when the cork is eased out, Sigh is a breath of fresh air for Sonoma. Currently the town’s only bubbles bar, Sigh offers a vast range of sparkling wine from around the world, including vintage Champagne, German Sekt, and local Sonoma sparklers. Buy a glass or try a sampling flight, and order a cheese plate to cut through all of that delicious acid. Beer tastings are also available at Sigh, for those who like their bubbles with hops. Located down Wine Alley, just off of Sonoma Plaza, it’s something different in a sea of Pinot and Chardonnay.

Insider Tip

When you order a bottle, ask them to saber it for you. “Sabering” a bottle of bubbly is just what it sounds like: a large knife is used to hack the top of the neck clean from the bottle for a dramatic, fun effect. They even sell sabers: if you buy one, they’ll teach you how to use it so you can up your party game!

Directions

Across the alley from Passaggio Wines: you can’t miss it.

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