It might surprise you to learn there are actually several great wine destinations in America, aside from just the well-known Wine Country of Napa Valley. Below, our team of highly passionate wine experts from Taste of Purple will explore one of the lesser-known but still fantastic wine destinations you should consider visiting: Sonoma Valley. While we don’t have the time to cover every notable feature, restaurant, or winery of Sonoma, we can at least help point you in the direction of some of the best-rated, most popular options.
Please read on to learn more, and also consider checking out the wide assortment of hand-crafted wine glasses and stemware available in our shop. Chances are, you’re going to bring back some delicious wine from your Sonoma trip, and we want to ensure you can experience it in the best way possible!
Visiting Sonoma Valley? Here’s What You Need to Know Before your Trip
It’s no secret that in the California Wine Region, Napa Valley reigns supreme. This small plot of Earth receives over three million visitors a year, spending over 1.6 billion dollars a year! And who can blame them? The Napa Valley is ethereal and transporting, it can be easy to fall in love, completely neglecting surrounding regions. But before you tie the knot with Napa, maybe take a look at it’s younger sister, Sonoma.
Sonoma is home to over 60,000 acres of grapes, 66 different grape varietals, over 50 miles of coastline, is responsible for 6 percent of California wine production and was named the best US wine destination in 2012 by Trip Advisor. Certainly, it’s earned its place in the race. So now that you’d decided to visit Sonoma, where do you go?
Naturally, with Sonoma being such a sought-after destination with wine enthusiasts from around the country, there’s a massive selection of wineries, restaurants, and other high-quality establishments for people to pick from. And with only so much time available on any vacation, people need to do their research to find the best possible destinations to meet their needs. That’s why our experts have compiled this short list of some of our favorites Sonoma locations.
Here are four must see destinations. you need to add to your itinerary immediately!
Top Restaurants and Wineries
To start our list of best Sonoma establishments, let’s cover some of the most popular restaurants and wineries in and around the area. Locals and yearly tourists alike adore these fantastic destinations, and not just for the massive selection of delectable wines that they all proudly offer.
LaSalette. This Portuguese inspired restaurant has a casual but sophisticated ambiance and a menu that will keep you going back. LaSalette is highly regarded for its fine selection of wines and expertly made cuisine. We highly recommend that you try their Mantanca de Porco (Pork Ribs) and Roasted Lamb Chop are both worth an order and their wine list is extensive. Among other categories, it breaks down into Light to Powerful reds, and offers to “put yourself in capable hands” with their guided wine pairing.
2. Flowers Vineyard & Winery
The Flowers Vineyard & Winery is a gorgeous location that combines the image of a hip, modern estate with acres of lush greenery and a long legacy within the world of high-quality wine creation. The vineyard and winery recently released the long-awaited addition of the House of Flowers, a new part of the estate that features an array of sprawling gardens and other amenities to support indoor and outdoor wine tasting events. Be sure you make a reservation before you arrive!
3. Siduri Wines.
“A Culmination of Fruit, Fermentation and Family” is their tagline, and it rings true. Their focus is solely on Pinot Noir but their real focus is on quality. Minimal intervention and specifically sourced fruit are all to that end. Their winery is by appointment only so book ahead, it’s worth your while.
4. Landmark Vineyards
Founded in 1974 and now highly regarded for producing some of the most exceptional quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the market, Landmark Vineyards is a must-see location for all wine enthusiasts visiting the area. The vineyard proudly features two beloved tasting rooms for guests to enjoy a unique selection of their most renowned wines, primarily served in winery-only bottles. We highly recommend trying their La Encantada Point Noir when you stop by for your visit.
5. Selby Winery.
‘My father taught me that wine is an incredible combination of art, science and nature. I learned after he died that wine holds a special place for celebration love and life.’ We’re crazy for the lovely father daughter story behind Selby Winery. And our time visiting the winery was just as lovely. If you’re looking for a hospitable experience, this is your place. Try their port, it was life changing.
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6. Scribe Winery
Over time, the Scrib Winery has developed an almost cult-like following of wine-loving individuals across the country due to their selection of terroir-driven wines. The winery is located in a gorgeous 19th-century Mission-style home and sits amid vast swaths of land dedicated to agriculture and viticulture. However, as much as we recommend visiting this particular winery, there is one caveat that we need to mention; membership is currently required to enter and tour the property. Thankfully, they’re now accepting new members into the Scribe Viticulture Society.
Rustic and put simply, beautiful, Buena Vista Winery is a must see when visiting the Sonoma area. It’s heralded as the oldest known winery in California and the birthplace of the wine industry. You certainly feel like you’re stepping back in time when you see this winery’s stone walls and flowing fountain. Try their Cabernet, thank us later.
8. Hamel Family Wines Estate
Expert and everyday wine enthusiasts often consider Hamel Family Wines to be a beloved label for its dedication to top-quality, small-production wines that leverage only organic and sustainable practices. If you’re a fan of their wine yourself, why not take the chance to visit their winery during your trip to Sonoma Valley? The family’s gorgeous estate offers visits by reservation. It provides a fantastic experience for everyone who makes the trip by offering a personalized wine and food selection supplied by its executive chef. Property tours also finish with a full, four-course meal alongside some of their best Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
9. Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Affectionately known as “GunBum” to residents of Sonoma Valley, this location is not just a gorgeous tourist destination where you can enjoy a nice glass of wine; it’s a genuine piece of wine history in America! Gundlach Bundschu Winery is widely known as California’s oldest family-owned winery and is renowned as one of the region’s most famous producers of fine wine. Operating since 1858, this winery is a true must-see for wine connoisseurs and history buffs alike!
10. Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Last- but certainly not least on our list- is the Jordan Vineyard & Winery. When stepping onto the property, it will feel like you’ve stepped not only across time but across the world and onto the threshold of a historic French wine château. This winery should be a definite go-to destination for anyone looking for something that goes beyond an ordinary winery tour and tasting while experiencing the true meaning of the term luxury.
These places only scratch the surface of a much-overlooked region that is growing every day. There is much to see and even more great wines to try. Happy Sipping!
Related: Taste of Purple Visits Wolfer Estate
Touring the Scenic Sonoma Valley
With hundreds of wineries in Sonoma Valley alone, you're going to have to cover a lot of ground if you want to see even a handful of them. Don't worry, because there are several ways that you can do Sonoma Valley wine tours, and just four of them are listed below.
This is obviously one of the ways that you can tour Sonoma Valley wineries whether you use your own car or you rent one. However, aimlessly driving around and hoping you come across a great wineryisn't usually the best option, especially if you're restricted on time. Instead, check out this super-handy Sonoma Valley Winery Map that also features the names, websites, and phone numbers of wineries to make it easy for you to find what you want.
Want to burn off those wine calories? Doing a bike tour can be a great option. There's group bike tours, private bike tours, and self-guided bike tours available that allow you to go through and around various Sonoma Valley wineries. You'll be able to learn all about the wine-making process, taste-test some fabulous wines, and be out in the sunshine. Rent a bike or bring your own.
Did you know that there's a Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley? It involves a six hour cable car wine tour in a replica of an 1890s San Francisco cable car. You'll be able to do a wine tasting at four Sonoma Valley wineries and enjoy beautiful scenic views. Beverages as well as a catered picnic lunch is included.
Want to get a little fancy? Rent a limo and do a Sonoma Valley wine tour in style. There are some companies that have limo wine tours already in place while for others you can rent a limo and make your own tour depending on where you want to go. This is an especially good option for those who are looking to celebrate a special occasion, such as a bachelorette party.
There's no shortage of ways to do a Sonoma Valley wine tour, which means that there's something for everyone. However you choose to do your tour, there's few things better than enjoying some fantastic wine and everything that Sonoma Valley has to offer.
Final Factors For Sonoma Guests to Consider
Our team of dedicated wine professionals at Taste of Purple sincerely hopes that the above guide has helped provide you with a wide range of great ideas that you’ll consider trying out during your upcoming trip to Sonoma Valley. If you’d like to access even more great resources covering other top-quality destinations for wine lovers in America, please don’t hesitate to browse through the different educational resources under the Travel & Leisure section of our blog.
Also, feel free to read some of our other articles covering key topics related to all things wine. We explore topics and issues, including how to properly get wine out of clothing and hold a wine glass for different occasions.
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