The 10 Best Wineries in Sonoma County for Newcomers

  • Wine
  • on JULY 22, 2015
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Considered the little sister to its counterpart Napa Valley, Sonoma County was always the runner up when it came to producing the top wines. Now, with over 275 wineries, Sonoma County is all grown up and home to several wineries that have become top in class and will provide newcomers a fantastic wine experience. We’ve compiled a list of those top wineries based on insider tips, reviews, and articles that make for the perfect introduction to Sonoma County.

A Walk in the Park

Image Source: Partake by K-J

Bartholomew Park Winery
1000 Vineyard Lane
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 935-9511
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 62 reviews

Bartholomew Park is unlike any other property in the valley. Situated in a 300-acre park resting against the base of the Mayacamas Mountain range, the winery practices organic farming, offers hiking trails, and boasts an onsite winery museum. Bartholomew Park was founded in 1994 by the Bundschu family, who have been making wine in Sonoma County since 1858, and specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. Several tasting options are available, and it’s also possible to purchase a bottle to enjoy at the onsite picnic grounds while taking in the serene beauty of the property.

Bartholomew Park also offers a great introduction to Sonoma wine country by way of the winery museum. Learn about Sonoma’s wine-making history as well as the rich background of this historical property. For a true introduction to Sonoma County, we recommend the tour and tasting option, which includes a visit to the property’s winery museum, a tour of the vineyard, and a tasting of the estate wines.

Insider tip: After wandering around Bartholomew Park, make a stop at the family’s other property, Gundlach Bundschu—the state’s second oldest family-owned winery (it’s just a 15-minute drive away).

Environmentally Friendly

Image Source: Benziger Family Winery

Benziger Family Winery
1883 London Ranch Rd.
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 935-3000
Yelp: 4 stars, 286 reviews

Environmentally friendly with beautiful rolling hills and a knowledgeable staff, Benziger Family Winery provides the whole experience every newcomer should try. Benziger offers two different winery and tasting tours that include a close up look at the bioiodynamic vineyards and barrel caves, followed by wine tastings that include the estate wines and pinot noir.

Insider tip: Schedule a private tour and you might get to taste the grapes and enjoy a tasting in the middle of the vineyard.

Haven for Champagne Lovers

Image Source: Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards Yelp

Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards
23555 Highway 121
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 933-1917
Yelp: 3.5 stars, 427 reviews

Gloria Ferrer is not only the first sparkling wine house in Sonoma, but also the first to plant Champagne clones. Sit outside on the vista terrace, enjoy flights in the recently renovated tasting room, or take one of the three tours that include food and wine pairings, bottling demonstrations or a deep history lesson of the main cave. Snack on seasonal cheese and chocolate available for purchase. Groups of eight or more are required to make reservations and some tours are only available Monday through Thursday.

Insider tip: Gloria Ferrer offers a Visa Signature discount for two guests which includes a two oz.taste of the Carneros Merlot and the sparkling Va de Vi. Guests will also receive a 15% discount on bottle purchases.

Bordeaux in California

Image Source: Jordan Winery

Jordan Winery
1474 Alexander Valley Rd.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(800) 654-1213
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 72 reviews

One of the earliest wineries to put Sonoma County on the map, Jordan is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and gracious hospitality. Inspired by the chateaus and wineries in France, Jordan was the first to bring a Bordeaux-style California Cabernet Sauvignon to northern California. Make sure to come with an appetite because Jordan is also known for its culinary expertise that includes dishes such as duck or rabbit confit, spiced tuna with saffron israeli cous cous, grilled japanese eggplant, and meyer lemon and lemon verbena ice cream.

Insider tip: Join the Jordan Winery email list and automatically be entered into the winery’s rewards program. For every dollar spent, members receive points that can be redeemed for private wine tastings, dinner parties, and more.

Upscale Experience

Image Source: Paul Hobbs Winery

Paul Hobbs Winery
3355 Gravenstein Hwy N
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 824-9879
Yelp: 4 stars, 10 reviews

Known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Paul Hobbs is one of the more upscale wineries in Sonoma County. With gorgeous views and a warm, comfortable tasting area in the living room of the main house, Paul Hobbs will give you a very memorable experience. Because its not the everyday winery, Paul Hobbs requires reservations for tours and tastings and is only open during the week.

Insider tip: In order to secure a tasting, be sure to make reservations online in advance—there can be a waiting list.

World Renowned Zinfandel

Image Source: Ravenswood Yelp

18701 Gehricke Rd
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 933-2332
Yelp: 4 stars, 242 reviews

If Zinfandel is your wine of choice, be sure to make the trip out to Ravenswood. Charmingly tucked away in the country, this well known and popular winery has it all—views, a knowledgeable staff, and a casual atmosphere that will make every newcomer feel welcome.

Insider tip: If you’ve always dreamed about blending your own wine, sign up for the “Blend your own “No Wimpy Wine” seminar. Reservations required.

Hollywood Flair

Image Source: Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery
300 Via Archimedes
Geyserville, CA 95441
(707) 857-1471
Yelp: 4 stars, 434 reviews

Francis Ford Coppola winery isn’t just a winery, its a wine wonderland. Film maker Francis Ford Coppola spared no expense bringing his Italian heritage and Hollywood roots to Sonoma County. The beautiful grounds, swimming pool, and movie gallery showcasing his films, are just a few of the amenities newcomers can enjoy. Bring your appetite and dine at Rustic, the restaurant that combines Coppola’s favorite recipes from Italy and Argentina.

Insider tip: Bringing the kids along? The winery offers a kids’ smoothie tasting event every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the Pavilion.

A Little Gem

Image Source: Bella Vineyard and Wine Caves Yelp

Bella Vineyard and Wine Caves
9711 W Dry Creek Rd.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 473-9171
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 212 reviews

There is a certain relaxed and casual “vibe” at Bella Vineyard and Wine Caves. With its setup of Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, hula hoops, and cornhole/baggo games, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The caves are open to explore and during the week is where the tastings occur. The view is spectacular and the staff is known to be very friendly, charming, and insightful. Bella is known for its Zinfandel, but also has a great Pinot Noir.

Insider tip: Call to make an appointment for their “Mix It Up” tour, which includes a cave tour and blend your own wine experience.

An Impressive Wine Portfolio

Image Source: Dutton-Goldfield Winery Yelp

Dutton-Goldfield Winery
3100 Gravenstein Hwy N
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 827-3600
Yelp: 4 stars, 43 reviews

Although famous for its Pinot Noir, Dutton-Goldfield is still top in class for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Zinfandel, and Syrah. The staff is friendly and approachable—perfect for beginners. Dutton-Goldfield, unlike most other top wineries in the area, has a “no frills” approach to the look and feel of the tasting room. Although roomy and sleek, its all about tasting the wine.

Insider tip: Sushi lovers will enjoy the Bright Whites and Sushi Flight. Reservations are required.

Tasting Room With an Ecclectic Vibe

Image Source: Red Car Wine Co.

Red Car Wine Co.
8400 Graton Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 829-8500
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 49 reviews

Eclectic, hipster, indie, vintage, artsy, and fun are several words that describe the Red Car Wine Co. tasting room. With its friendly and patient staff, newcomers will have the chance to taste the Pinot Noir and Syrah. Like shopping? Red Car Co. has a collection of jewelry and furniture available for purchase.

Insider Tip: Red Car Co. is pet friendly.

If you still need some inspiration for your Sonoma County visit, browse our winery options.

WineCountry Staff


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