Sonoma County is arguably one of the best regions in California for the production of sparkling wine. With several sub-appellations boasting the perfect climate for growing premium sparkling wine grapes, it’s no wonder numerous Sonoma bubblies have garnered worldwide attention. Many have even been served at some of the country’s most prestigious events (read: Presidential Inaugurations).
While sparkling wines are found throughout the region, there are several AVAs within Sonoma that are producing truly world-class sparkling wines. The Russian River Valley, along with the Carneros and Sonoma Coast AVAs are marked by the perfect climate for growing classic sparkling wine grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir. Here, a strong marine influence from the Pacific Ocean provides breezes and lingering fog that keeps the region cool. These factors contribute to a long growing season that allows the grapes to slowly ripen, developing complex and elegant flavors, while retaining the bright acidity so crucial to producing quality sparkling wines.
If all this talk of bubbly has you ready to pop some corks, read on for a list of some of Sonoma County’s best sparkling wine producers.
320 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 934-8237
Anything Jean-Charles Boisset touches turns to gold… and green velvet… and jewel-encrusted leopard print. This opulent tasting room in downtown Healdsburg is no exception. A study in luxury and extravagance, the décor alone, decked out in textures and special touches designed to surprise and delight the senses, will evoke the feeling you are tasting somewhere otherworldly. Guests can explore a lineup of sparkling wines produced in a range of styles – some even contained in Swarovski-adorned bottles.
Insider Tip: Each wine is known by a number that is deeply significant to Jean-Charles. The sparkling Rosé “69” was named for the year he was born as well as the year man first landed on the moon.
11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (888) 594-6326
With a cheerful tagline like “Let life bubble over,” this iconic winery is a must-visit. Located in the heart of the Russian River Valley, J Vineyards produces a range of still wines and bubblies made from classic grapes like pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, and meunier. From bone dry extra brut to softly sweet demi-sec to complex vintage selections, sparkling wine lovers of all types are sure to find something up their alley.
Insider Tip: While gorgeous spaces to sip and savor at J Vineyards abound, few compare to the food and wine pairing experience at The Bubble Room, available during six seatings per day, Thursday – Sunday.
9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472, (707) 887-1507
The wines of this family-owned estate, located in the Green Valley appellation of the Russian River Valley, have an impressive history; they have been served at the White House for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, starting with the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meetings ending the Cold War. Iron Horse produces 12 different vintage sparkling wines, ranging from their classic Vintage Brut to their Joy! Blanc de Blancs, made from 100% chardonnay and aged for a whopping 13 years en tirage.
Insider Tip: Every bottle of Iron Horse Gratitude vintage rosé sold donates $5 to The Redwood Empire Food Bank, and their Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs gives $4 per bottle to National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative.
4353 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 473-0115
Founded by Charles and Helen Bacigalupi in 1956, the Bacigalupi family has a rich history in sparkling wine production. Their hallmark sparkling wine – Brillante – is a tribute to Paul Heck, co-owner of Korbel, daughter-in-law Pam Bacigalupi’s father, and close friend to Charles. Bacigalupi produces their traditional method sparkling wine with estate chardonnay and pinot noir.
Insider Tip: It was Bacigalupi’s chardonnay that helped put California wines on the map during the 1976 Paris Tasting, when the 1973 Château Montelena chardonnay, which was made with 40% of Bacigalupi fruit, triumphed over many acclaimed French wines.
3900 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 293-9576
A passion for pinot noir led Napa native Kathleen Inman to establish her winery in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Since then, this small, terroir-driven winery produces both still and sparkling wines made from pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris that are naturally low in alcohol and food friendly. The winery’s two sparklers, the Inman Sister’s Cuvée and their 100% pinot noir-based Brut Rosé, are both great testaments to the potential of the Russian River Valley for world-class sparkling wines.
Insider Tip: The winery is made almost entirely from recycled materials and has the first privately owned, publicly available electric vehicle charging station in the North Bay.
3575 Slusser Road, Windsor, CA 95492, (800) 314-1762
This family-owned and operated winery produces wines exclusively from cool-climate appellations, not to mention it offers breathtaking vineyard views. While they have typically focused on still wines, this year, winemaker Jen Walsh created their first Russian River Valley traditional method sparkling Brut Rosé made from 73% pinot noir and 27% chardonnay.
Insider Tip: In addition their Signature Tasting, La Crema offers a wide range of VIP experiences, including walking tours, picnic lunches, wine and cheese, and the Saralee’s Vineyard Tour, a private golf cart tour of the estate.
23555 Highway 121, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 933-1917
Winegrowers since the 1500s and owners of Spain’s La Freixeneda (of the famous Freixenet Cava), the Ferrer family founded this winery in 1986 to pursue their dream of creating traditional method sparkling wines in New World terroir. They chose Carneros, where they would become the first sparkling wine house in the area. Produced as both still and sparkling, and ranging from brut to demi-sec, the wines have been awarded over 500 gold medals and fifty 90-point scores in the last five years alone.
Insider Tip: Wine geeks will love the Reserve Tour, which gives guests the chance to become “Certified Sparkling Wine Knowledgeable” at its conclusion.
13250 River Road, Guerneville, CA 95446, (707) 824-7000
This Russian River Valley mainstay has been producing méthode champenoise sparkling wine since 1882. While, like Iron Horse, the wines have been served at many Presidential Inaugurations, Korbel believes that sparkling wine should be part of every kind of celebration, from milestones to small, intimate weeknights at home. Korbel also employs sustainable farming and winemaking practices, and is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers.
Insider Tip: Grab a bite at the Korbel Delicatessen & Market, offering salads, sandwiches, and boxed lunches, as you sit on the outdoor decks among the majestic redwoods and sip a glass of your favorite Korbel sparkler.
1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 257-0101
Though it’s not technically in Sonoma, Domaine Carneros is just a stone’s throw away in Carneros and should be on your radar if you like bubbly. This popular Château shines with a wide range of sparkling wines and cheese pairings, which can be enjoyed on the sun-drenched terrace. Or, if an elevated tasting is what you’re after, the Bubbles & Bites experience features four sparklers paired with Asian-inspired appetizers, while the Ultimate Chips & Dips Tasting allows two people to savor a selection of caviar, chips, crème fraîche, and sparkling wine.
While not all wineries in Sonoma County specialize in sparkling wines like Iron Horse, J Vineyards, Gloria Ferrer, and Domaine Carneros, there are plenty others that offer exceptional bottlings worth sampling. In addition to their stellar selection of still wines, Patz & Hall produces their North Coast as a nod to the great grower Champagnes of France, and Sonoma-Cutrer‘s Grand Cuveé Late Disgorge sparkling chardonnay is a must-sip while touring the region. Hidden gem Sosie Wines is slated to launch a sparkling program in the coming months. Enterprising wine lovers will want to book a private tasting; who knows, they may even give you a tank sample of something up-and-coming.