Best Santa Rosa Wineries To Try in a Weekend

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  • by BROOKE HERRON
  • on APRIL 15, 2021
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Centrally located in Sonoma County Wine Country, Santa Rosa is a city that is sometimes overlooked by visitors who head straight to popular Wine Country destination cities like Sonoma and Healdsburg. However, visitors to Sonoma County will find that Santa Rosa offers just as much in the way of world-class tasting experiences, renowned wineries, and beautiful scenery. Below are some of the best wine tasting destinations in Sonoma County’s largest city.

 

 

 

 

1
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Donelan Family Wines

Started by Joe Donelan in 2009 after he had spent some years working on a different winery project and decided to branch out, Donelan Wines is a true family operation now run by Joe and his sons Tripp and Cushing. The Donelan’s focus is on making boutique wines that showcase the unique Sonoma County vineyards they are sourced from. With an affinity for cool-climate syrahs and Rhône blends, they produce a range of extremely limited production wines, many of which are only available to their wine club (though they may make an exception if you are tasting with them and they have a few bottles available for sale). Visit their production facility and hospitality space in an industrial area in Santa Rosa, where tastings include a seated tasting of four to six wines. Just don’t miss the very limited production syrahs, for which the winery has garnered four 100 point scores.

Insider Tip

If you are a fan of French Rhône blends such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Northern Rhône-style syrahs you will be pleasantly surprised at the subtlety, balance, and elegance of Donelan’s Cuvee Moriah and Cuvee Christine.

Image courtesy of Donelan Family Wines

Details Visit Website
2
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Carol Shelton Wines

Launched by U.C. Davis graduate Carol Shelton and her husband Mitch Mackenzie in 2000, Carol Shelton Wines set its sights on sourcing the best zinfandel from some of the most unique sites in California and building a reputation for producing stellar zinfandels. All that hard work has paid off; Carol Shelton Wines has won a cult following of zinfandel loving fans over the past two decades. And, while the winery and tasting room are located in an industrial complex in Santa Rosa, you won’t even miss the vineyard views. Shelton provides one of the most laid back, fun, and ‘anti-snob’ wine tasting experiences in the city from which to sample their many zinfandels and rosé. Definitely pay a visit to this tasting room once they reopen later this spring.

Insider Tip

Want to bring a bit of Carol Shelton Wines into your home until you can visit in person? Order a couple of bottles then try one of Carol’s recipes (found on the website). Her braised duck with mascarpone polenta is a particular favorite (pair it with zinfandel)!

Image courtesy of Carol Shelton Wines

Details Visit Website
3
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Pellegrini Wine Company

The Pellegrini family, having worked with grapes and wine since the 1920s in San Francisco, arrived on their Olivet Lane property (then a plum and apple orchard) in the 1970s. They were among the first in the Russian River to plant pinot noir and chardonnay using heirloom clones. Fifty years later, the winery has some of the oldest still producing pinot noir vines and enjoys a reputation for not only crafting some of the most classic Russian River pinot noirs but also growing and providing fruit to some of the Russian River’s most prestigious pinot noir producers (William Selyem, Merry Edwards, etc.). In addition, they make chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, rosé, and zinfandel.

Insider Tip

Make a Pellegrini ‘catered lunch’ reservation to enjoy a tasting of five wines served alongside an artisanal style shared lunch board with locally sourced ingredients (prepared by local Chef Franceso Torre of Canneti Roadhouse Italiana) at one of Pellegrini’s outdoor tables.

Image courtesy of Pellegrini

Details Visit Website
4
Wineries / Santa Rosa

DeLoach Vineyards

DeLoach Vineyards has sat for over four decades on its Olivet Road property in the heart of the Russian River. While the winery was founded by Cecil DeLoach in the 1970s and was one of the first vineyards to plant pinot noir in the region, the vineyard changed hands in 2003 when it was purchased by local French wine mogul Jean-Charles Boisset. At that time the winery’s entire vineyard estate was converted to organic and biodynamic farming, and its production was decreased while the focus on creating terroir-driven wines of high quality was increased. The winery now produces a range of AVA focused wines, many of which can only be purchased at the winery. They also place a focus on hospitality and education and offer a range of wine tasting experiences worth seeking out.

Insider Tip

Regardless of which tasting experience you choose, plan to make time to explore their Theater of Nature. Vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants, sheep, chickens, and goats are just a few of the many things you’ll find in this idyllic 20-acre organic and biodynamic farm and garden, which makes a great spot for an afternoon picnic.

Image courtesy of DeLoach

Details Visit Website
5
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Inman Family Wines

Established in 2000 by Kathleen Inman, Inman Family Wines released its first vintage in 2002. Making less than 5,000 cases of pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris, Inman Wines is a true ‘boutique’ winery. Kathleen’s focus is minimal intervention winemaking, sustainable farming, and eco-friendly practices (including a solar-powered winery). The Inman Wines tasting room is open Thursday - Sunday for $20 tastings (with advanced reservation), but it’s worth looking into booking a private tasting with the winemaker ($50) for a true insider’s perspective.

Insider Tip

Inman Wines features charging stations for electric cars, so you can taste wines while refueling your car with sunshine!

Image courtesy of Inman Family Wines

Details Visit Website
6
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Paradise Ridge Winery

Paradise Ridge sits on a 155-acre ranch in the Russian River Valley purchased in the 70s by Walter Byck and Marijke Hoenselaar, and over the past three decades, the winery has become an icon in Sonoma County. From the warm, friendly hospitality to its highly renowned sculpture garden (you know that iconic L-O-V-E sign that is featured in so many peoples’ Wine Country pictures? Yeah, that’s in Paradise Ridge’s sculpture garden), Paradise Ridge is beloved by locals and visitors. While Paradise Ridge was significantly damaged in the 2017 fires (their wine production facility and tasting room were destroyed), the family is happy to once again be able to welcome visitors ‘to paradise’ to taste pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and small-lot, vineyard designate wines and blends.

Insider Tip

During normal, non-pandemic summer months, Paradise Ridge runs its ‘Wines and Sunsets’ event series at their Russian River Valley Estate Amphitheater, from which guests can enjoy views of their vineyards. ‘Wines and Sunsets’ features live music, wines by the glass or bottle, and goodies from gourmet food trucks. Keep an eye out for its return.

Image courtesy of Paradise Ridge

Details Visit Website
7
Wineries / Santa Rosa

Hanna Winery Russian River Valley

Founded in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna, a world-famous cardiac surgeon who wanted to get ‘back to the land,’ Hanna Winery is now run by her daughter, Christine. Beginning in the 90s, the winery rose to make its mark as an iconic sauvignon blanc producer and has continued to garner renown for their Russian River estate-grown pinot noir and chardonnay and Alexander Valley estate-grown Bordeaux varietals. As the winery has both Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley properties, there are also two Hanna Winery tasting room locations. At the winery’s Russian River tasting room, guests can enjoy either a VIP seated tasting or a Wine & Cheese Pairing tasting consisting of a flight of wines from Hanna’s Flagship, Reserve, and Bismark Mountain lines from the picnic area overlooking the vines.

Insider Tip

Love Hanna wines and plan to visit often? Then it might be worth signing up for their wine club. Club members get unlimited complimentary tastings at both their Russian River and Alexander Valley tasting rooms, one complimentary cheese plate per year, access to library releases, and a variety of other perks worth noting.

Photo courtesy of Kim Carroll

Details Visit Website

Brooke Herron

A 17-year wine industry and brand-marketing professional, Brooke has recently returned home to Northern California after four years of living and working abroad. When she’s not working on marketing projects for clients or writing articles for publications or her own travel blog you can find Brooke hiking, enjoying a good glass of wine, or sitting somewhere with an ocean view.

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