Glen Ellen Wineries: A Weekend Tasting Itinerary

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Glen Ellen is home to wineries large and small. No matter the size, many are family-run businesses that treat guests with much more hospitality than many large corporations. An assortment of tasting rooms run the gamut from classy and expansive, to friendly and informal.

Day 1

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Mayo Family Winery

Guests turning into Mayo Family Winery will be greeted by a vintage Chevy pickup truck once used to deliver wine barrels, and by a knowledgeable and friendly staff. The tasting room, which is pet friendly, is quaint but refined. From the tasting room, guests can take in the views of the vineyards or eat lunch on one of several picnic tables outside. Don’t expect throngs of tourists, but ready yourself for a personalized tasting experience.

Insider Tip

The tasting room offers two special sampling journeys: a “Premium Tasting” for those with classic tastes, and an “Adventure Tasting” that features lesser-known varieties.

Directions

From US-101 N, take exit 460A for CA-37 E toward Napa/Vallejo and follow CA-37 E for 7.2 miles. Turn left onto CA-116 W and take a slight right on Arnold Drive. At the traffic circle, turn onto Agua Caliente Road West. Turn left onto CA-12 W, turn left onto Arnold Drive, and the winery will be on your left.

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Benziger Family Winery

Expect a few more wine tourists at Benziger Family Winery compared to Mayo Family Winery, but prepare to be enthralled by the grand views from the elegant tasting room or from the vineyards. Specialized tours pour tastings in the cozy ranch house, which dates back to 1868, or the newly renovated library, under dazzling chandeliers. Not only are the vineyards lovely to look at, they’re also ecologically sustainable, with a focus on utilizing livestock—chickens, cows, and goats—to cut down on weeds and pests

Insider Tip

If you have kids along with you, Benziger Family Winery offers a tour of their vineyards and up-close views of the farm animals.

Directions

From Mayo Family Winery, head southwest on Arnold Drive toward Arroyada Road and turn right onto London Ranch Road. Turn right onto Lillis Road and the winery will be on your left.

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Eric Ross Winery

Eric Ross Winery is a small operation, but visitors will get a memorable wine tasting experience catered to their specific palettes. The tasting room is cozy and filled with photographs taken by Eric Ross, who was a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle before he opened up this winery. Because of the tiny staff’s friendly demeanor, Eric Ross Winery is a favorite of locals. The rolling hillside provides plenty of spots for picnics or to enjoy the sunset over Sonoma County.

Insider Tip

Eric Ross Winery opens a little later than many surrounding vineyards. Since it is a small operation, it would be prudent to call before visiting to ensure that they are open.

Directions

From Benziger Family Winery, head south on Lillis Road and turn left onto London Ranch Road. Turn right onto Arnold Drive and the winery will be on your right.

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Day 2

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Imagery Estate Winery

Imagery Estate Winery can get busy, especially on weekends, but the staff is known for taking care of each guest as if the winery was a tiny affair. The tasting room is rustic but has a funky flair, and the winemakers are renowned for their experimentation. Imagery Estate Winery is focused on bringing edgier flavors and obscure varieties to the mainstream, so the staff is very enthusiastic about introducing guests to new wines.

Insider Tip

Imagery Estate Winery claims a $15 tasting that includes five wines—but the staff is very loose with that number. Friendly guests might find themselves tasting 10 wines or more for the same price.

Directions

Head northwest on Arnold Drive toward Hill Lane. Turn right on CA-12 E and the winery will be on your left.

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Arrowood Vineyards & Winery

Many wineries try to replicate an old castle or European mansion with their tasting rooms. Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, however, based its tasting room on a New England farmhouse with large outdoor porches and a warmly decorated interior. Wine tastings and cheese plates can be savored inside by a regal fireplace, or outside on comfortable couches. The decks are bright and provide stunning views of the countryside, bringing some East Coast cheer to the Pacific.

Insider Tip

Before enjoying a tasting at Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, check out the Quarryhill Botanical Garden about 2 miles down CA-12. Tranquil ponds, burbling waterfalls, and a large selection of wild Asian flowers create the setting for a serene afternoon.

Directions

From Imagery Estate Winery, head southeast on CA-12 E and turn left onto Babb Lane. The winery will be on your left.

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B.R. Cohn

B.R. Cohn Winery is housed within a ranch home that dates back to the 1920s, where the owners attempt to preserve the romantic aura of an earlier age with a healthy dose of relaxation. The tasting room is far from fussy, and the gift shop sells Doobie Brothers memorabilia (the titular B.R. Cohn was the band’s longtime manager). Alongside wine tastings, visitors can also sample a large variety of olive oils and vinegars at a separate bar—the hand-crafted, barrel-aged vinegars are a specialty.

Insider Tip

The winery hosts live music every Sunday afternoon, rain or shine.

Directions

From Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, head south and turn right onto Babb Lane. Turn left onto CA-12 E and the winery will be on your right.

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Little Vineyards

True to its name, Little Vineyards is a small, family-run operation, but that doesn’t prevent it from producing world-class, award-winning wines. The tasting room is a comfortable space that recalls a rustically decorated living room. Guitars, banjos, and mandolins hang from the walls – the founder is a music lover and live music is often featured. The property is very pet friendly: several dogs wander the winery and are often the first to greet guests.

Insider Tip

There is no indoor seating, so visits might be quick if the weather is cold. If it is warm, though, there are bocce ball courts outside.

Directions

From B.R. Cohn Winery, head south on CA-12 E and the winery will be on your right.

Details

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