8 Best Spots for Wine Tasting in Sonoma

  • Wineries
  • by WINECOUNTRY STAFF
  • on DECEMBER 20, 2019
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While Sonoma County offers a diverse range of wines and plenty of worthy wineries to visit, you don’t have to venture far for a day or two of wine tasting when staying in the charming town of Sonoma — many of the local tasting rooms are centrally located near Sonoma Plaza or just a short drive away. To help narrow down where to taste when you’re short on time, we’ve gathered the eight best spots for wine tasting in Sonoma.

Day 1 – Sonoma Plaza

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Wineries / Sonoma

WALT Wines

Kathryn Hall, founder of HALL Winery in Napa Valley, founded WALT Wines in 2007 with brothers Roger and Richard Roessler. Located just off the square in a converted home, WALT’s Sonoma tasting room is a welcoming place to sample the brand’s Sonoma County pinot noir and chardonnay wines. Stop in for a tasting of current release or library selections, or, for a more elevated experience, reserve the Root 101 tasting, which features five single vineyard pinot noirs (spanning over 1,000 miles) with pairings from the nearby the girl and the fig restaurant.

Insider Tip

WALT just recently opened a tasting room in Napa’s Oxbow district, where the same great wines and a variety of new experiences can be enjoyed in a more youthful, hip ambiance.

Photo courtesy of Walt Wines / John Bedell

Details Visit Website
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Wineries / Sonoma

Three Sticks Wines

A stop into The Adobe at Three Sticks Wines should be high on your list when visiting Sonoma Wine Country. The meticulously restored Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe house is the oldest continuously occupied residence in California, originally built in 1842, and makes for a memorable place to taste. Here, seated tasting experiences are both intimate and educational, providing the opportunity to sample the winery’s esteemed chardonnays and pinot noirs — each made with grapes sourced from some of Sonoma County’s best vineyards.

Insider Tip

Each room in the rAdobe is beautifully decorated, but believe it or not, the bathrooms are some of the most impressive rooms you'll find here. These washrooms stand out for their decorative mirrors and elaborate wallpaper, so be sure to make time for a bathroom break.

Photo courtesy of Facebook: Three Sticks Wines

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Things To Do / Sonoma

Sigh Champagne Bar

Named for the sound a bottle of sparkling wine makes when the corrk is eased out, SIGH is a worthy destination if you like sparkling wine, or if you need to break away rfrom the sea of pinot and chardonnay. This bubbly-focused bar offers a vast range of sparkling wines from around the globe, including vintage Champagne, Italian Prosecco, and local Sonoma sparklers — all available by the glass and bottle. They also offer a rotating list of tasting flights, still wines from Sonoma County, and, for those who prefer their bubbles with hops, beer (including the “Champagne of Beers,” Miller High Life). To make your time at SIGH even more fun, order a cheese plate or a side of salty chips to pair with your high acid bubbly, or go big and splurge on a caviar tasting.

Insider Tip

Though the space is bright and airy, the color scheme (reminiscent of a New Year’s Eve fête) is more indicative of the vibe this place has on a weekend: festive. If looking for a quiet place to sip Champagne, head here during off-hours or on weekdays, as Friday and Saturday nights can be bustling.

Photo courtesy of Wilson Ishihara Design

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Wineries / Sonoma

Pangloss Cellars

Step inside Pangloss Cellars, located in a historic building over a century old, and take in the grand tasting room, with its high ceilings, exposed beams, and rock walls. Despite the expansiveness of the 4,000-square-foot space, it still manages to feel warm and inviting, thanks to intimate seating areas, cozy leather chairs, and a communal tasting bar. Tastings range from the classic tasting at the bar to flights with food pairings in the lounge. There’s also a private, more focused seated tasting paired with local cheeses and charcuterie.

Insider Tip

While many tasting rooms close around 4 or 5pm, Pangloss stays open until 6pm on weekdays and 7pm on weekends, making it a great choice for when you want to squeeze in one more tasting before dinner.

Photo courtesy of Frame2Table

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Day 2 – Minutes From Town

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Wineries / Sonoma

Buena Vista Winery

Just five minutes from Sonoma Plaza is Buena Vista Winery, the first premier winery founded in California in 1857. A designated Historic Landmark, this legendary estate has been reimagined by Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates, and offers no shortage of things to do, see, and taste — think a variety of tasting experiences, picnic grounds, wine caves, and even a 19th and 20th century tool museum. The Wine Museum Tour and Tasting offers visitors a chance to experience the history of winemaking through its tools, followed by a tasting of current release wines, but on a nice day you can’t beat an al fresco glass of wine with a picnic.

Insider Tip

Buena Vista’s colorful founder, Agoston Haraszthy, also known as The Count of Buena Vista, was one of California’s first pioneering winemakers. He dug Sonoma’s first wine caves, introduced innovative viticulture techniques, and brought over 487 different varieties from Europe to the Sonoma region. The winery honors his legacy with the Founder's red blend.

Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Winery

Details Visit Website
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Wineries / Sonoma

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Established in 1858, “Gun Bun” is California’s oldest family-owned winery, located near Buena Vista just a few minutes from downtown Sonoma. This historic winery has a wide variety of wines to taste, from Gewürztraminer to chardonnay, tempranillo to cabernet franc, and a tasting experience for every taste and budget. Try the Pinzgauer Excursion for a chance to venture into the vineyards, or opt for the Vista Courtyard Tasting, which takes place on a courtyard under the olive trees overlooking a pond. In the cooler months, head indoors for the Gun Bun Underground experience, which includes a seated cave tasting of five wines paired with local cheese and charcuterie.

Insider Tip

Many of Gundlach Bundschu’s tasting experiences are offered on weekends only and/or are seasonal, like the Dirt to Bottle Tour and Tasting, which is only offered in September and November on Saturdays and Sundays, so plan accordingly if there’s a particular tasting you’re interested in.

Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu

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Wineries / Sonoma

Scribe Winery

Situated on a piece of land that pioneered pre-prohibition Sonoma Valley winemaking, Scribe Winery is a top destination for city dwellers and farm-to-table fanatics. Tastings of Scribe’s wines take place in the estate’s renovated historic Hacienda, which looks out onto rows of vines and the surrounding majestic oak trees. The wines, made using minimally-invasive vinification techniques, include a variety of pinot noir and syrah wines, as well as more off-beat selections like skin-fermented chardonnay, St. Laurent, and white pinot noir.

Insider Tip

Scribe is owned and operated by fourth-generation California farmers and brothers, Andrew and Adam Mariani, who deem a connection to the land an important part of Scribe’s philosophy. So, it’s not surprising that the winery has an on-site garden, dedicated chefs, and regular dinners inspired by what’s in season.

Photo courtesy of Scribe Winery

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Corporate Events /

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Founded in 1986 by the Ferrer family (of Spain’s La Freixeneda), Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling wine house in Sonoma, established to fulfill the family’s dream of producing traditional method sparkling wine in America. Today, this winery just south of downtown Sonoma is a popular destination for glasses or flights of sparkling wine and estate varietal wine, best enjoyed from the outdoor terrace. For a glimpse into Gloria Ferrer’s history and the sparkling wine process, join one of the daily tours (which include a taste of sparkling wine), or choose from the list of elevated experiences, such as the 90-minute Bubbles & Bites or the 60-minute Glassware Exploration.

Insider Tip

Not really into sparkling wine? No problem. The winery’s Red Wines & Perfect Pairings experience focuses on red wine styles from California, Spain, and Australia, to help guests learn the different characteristics of each style and region. Pairings are also part of this one-hour exploration, to help show the versatility of each wine with food.

Photo courtesy of Gloria Ferrer

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Hana-Lee Sedgwick

Hana-Lee Sedgwick, based in her hometown of Santa Barbara, California, specializes in West Coast wine, food and travel. Her work has appeared in publications including Santa Barbara Magazine, The Tasting Panel, and 7×7. She loves to travel, stay active, and share food and wine with friends. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderandwine or visit her blog, wanderandwine.com.

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