Drink Your Way Through Sonoma History

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The history of Sonoma County is deeply connected to the history of wine in the U.S. With a vineyard culture that dates back centuries, every bottle of Sonoma County wine is part of a proud tradition, with a fiercely independent spirit. Fortunately for visitors, you can sip your way through the region’s rich history.

Day 1

1
Wineries / Guerneville

Korbel Champagne Cellars

Founded in Guerneville in 1882 by three brothers from Czechoslovakia, Korbel is now a sparkling wine empire. In 2011, it was the 12th-largest wine producer in the United States. The winery has long specialized in “California Champagne” — technically only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France can be called as such, but Korbel uses the old European production methods to produce bottles that are light, bubbly, and delicious. The large, historic winery in Sonoma County is a pleasure to visit, and offers tours through some beautifully landscaped gardens.

Insider Tip

Don’t just sample the bubbles — Korbel’s terrific port is complex and refreshing — perfect for a night cap.

Details
2
Wineries / Healdsburg

Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery

This Healdsburg classic is still bursting with Wine Country charm. The winery began in the 1960s, before Sonoma County became the wine mecca it is today, and every bottle released showcases the skill of these pioneers. Visits to the winery often last at least an hour, with a wide selection of wines available in the tasting room located on the 65-acre estate.

Insider Tip

A landscaped path in back of the waterwheel is easy to miss, but it leads up a hill to a terrific picnic area that includes power outlets and great views.

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3
Wineries / Sonoma

Buena Vista Winery

As the oldest operating winery in California, Buena Vista Winery is a treasure for history buffs and wine lovers alike. It was founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy, now widely known as the father of California viniculture. The winery is still on its original grounds, and features gardens, historic stone buildings, and a romantic tasting room with plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the winery’s 150-year history.

Insider Tip

Buy a bottle and bring a picnic dinner — Buena Vista Winery opens up its lovely outdoor patio at 6 p.m. for sunset suppers.

Details
4
Wineries / Sonoma

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Opened in 1858, Gundlach Bundschu Winery is the oldest continuously family-owned winery in the state, and is the second oldest of any California winery besides Buena Vista Winery, which was founded a year before. The immense 320 acres of property is a delight to behold, and the winery offers tours around the estate in a giant truck. Tastings of Gundlach Bundschu’s legendary wines are conducted among the barrels in the winery’s cave — a cool, dark escape from the Sonoma County heat.

Insider Tip

After your tasting, you can walk atop the cave area for terrific views of the countryside.

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Day 2

5
Wineries / Sonoma

Bartholomew Park Winery

The stately manor at Bartholomew Park Winery actually houses a whole wine history museum, so you can find out about the storied past of the entire area with one visit. The winery is just a few blocks east of downtown Sonoma, so it’s a relaxing stroll away from even more Sonoma County history, a crucial part in the founding of the American west. The wines are organically grown and made in small batches, so each taste is delight in the richly decorated tasting room.

Insider Tip

Miles of hiking trails around the property open up an hour before winery does, so you can get some quick exercise and nature before your wine tasting day officially starts.

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6
Wineries / Sonoma

Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery

Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery has been producing excellent bottles of Sonoma County wine for more than a century. The winery’s skill and love of the craft are on display in every tasting, poured in the cozy tasting room near downtown Sonoma. Outside the tasting room, you’ll find joyful fountains and well-kept gardens that mimic a luxurious Italian villa.

Insider Tip

Today, Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery is far from some dusty relic — on Friday nights, the winery throws opens its doors to the public and welcomes food trucks and live music.

Details
7
Wineries / Healdsburg

Foppiano Vineyards

Foppiano Vineyards was founded in 1896 in the Russian River Valley by an Italian immigrant, and has been pleasing Sonoma County visitors ever since. Petite Syrah was the family’s favorite variety, and now the winery produces some of the best in the world, all available to taste in the sunny Healdsburg tasting room. The shaded picnic area is always open — visitors can soak in the natural bounty of the valley and find out for themselves why the Foppianos settled here.

Insider Tip

Learn the winery’s tale from the horse’s mouth by taking one of the tours led by a fifth-generation member of the Foppiano clan.

Details
8
Wineries / Sonoma

Hanzell Vineyards

Although it was established in 1957, the buildings, décor, and aura of Hanzell Vineyards feel a century older. Now one of the oldest operating wineries in the county, it produces highly lauded Chardonnay and Pinot Noir each year. Founded by a former ambassador to Italy, it was actually one of the first wineries in the state to produce Chardonnay. The tasting room is peaceful and intimate, while the staff will treat you like a member of the family.

Insider Tip

The winery, which is open by appointment only, is home to some farm animals, which kids can watch as the adults sample Hanzell Vineyards’ richly flavored wines.

Details

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