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 Sonoma AVAs 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.
23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 933-1986
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 Gloria Ferrer 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: Book the Carneros Experience for the ultimate sparkling wine tasting. You’ll enjoy a flight of four sparkling wines while seated outside with views of the Carneros estate vineyards.
11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 431-5430
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 five 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 six consecutive Presidential Administrations, starting with the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meetings ending the Cold War. Iron Horse produces 17 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 15 years en tirage.
Insider Tip: Each bottle of Iron Horse Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs gives a portion of every bottle sold to The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California.
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 Southeast Asian-inspired appetizers, while the Ultimate Caviar Experience allows two people to savor a selection of three portions of Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, gourmet potato chips, toast points, crème fraîche, and sparkling wine.
21200 Eighth Street E, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 265-7700
Founded in 1988, Patz & Hall has become California’s most highly regarded wineries. Known for meticulous winemaking, the winery used to focus exclusively on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir until they made their first sparkling wine in 2015. Since then, their sparkling wine portfolio has been just as much of a draw as their still wines. The detail and artistry that Patz & Hall has diligently put into their renowned wines is apparent in their 100% Chardonnay-based North Coast Brut.
Insider Tip: Book the Seek and Savor Selection tasting to try their current releases as well as favorites from their cellar. Reservations are required.
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, in 2019, winemaker Jen Walsh created their first Russian River Valley traditional method sparkling Brut Rosé made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay.
Insider Tip: In addition to their Estate Tasting, La Crema offers a wide range of VIP experiences, including picnic lunches, barrel tasting, and the Best of the Vine Estate Tour, a private of the historic estate.
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 three sparklers, the Extra Brut Luxe Cuvee, 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, and their 100% Pinot Noir-based Blanc de Noir, are 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.
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.
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.