Sonoma Valley Wineries: Best Places to Taste in this Northern California Wine Region

Jill at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

You will find more than 100 Sonoma Valley wineries in this gorgeous Northern California wine region. It's proximity to San Francisco and access to the town of Sonoma make it a popular stop for visitors.

I have so many favorites in this region. I've pulled together a list of 12 places I love to visit for various reasons. If you are looking for some great places to sample wine during your stay, try some from my list and let me know what you think!

Most of the wineries on my list offer open tastings without an appointment. However, this can change at any time, so double check to make sure they haven't changed their visiting policy. Also, most of them highly recommend or require a reservation if you will be visiting with a large group, or if you plan to take a tour of the caves or vineyards.

Sonoma Valley Wineries

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. Anaba Wines

Address: 60 Bonneau Road, Sonoma

Anaba Wines is one of the sustainably farmed, family owned and run Sonoma Valley wineries just outside the quaint town of Sonoma. Since they are located on the more southern end of Sonoma, it is a great winery to either start or end, your visit.

Anaba is known for the delicious Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Rhone blends. If you've never had a Rhone blend, the reds are known for being strong, fruity and yummy. Anaba also has a white wine varietal Rhone wine, Viognier. If you've never had a Viognier, you are in for a treat as it is not a common varietal to find in wineries.

Their tasting room is open to the public and has tastings you will enjoy every day of the week. If you wanted a deeper experience into how Anaba Wines produces their wines, you can try one of the in-depth tastings that are more personal and extensive. As with all wineries on this list, there is an extra charge for these tastings and an appointment is needed in advance.

2. B.R. Cohn

Address: 15000 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen

If you are looking for a very large range of wines to taste, B.R. Cohn is a great place to visit on your tour around the Sonoma Valley. Not only do they have the wines you know, like Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Chardonnay, but they have large selection of wines you might not know. Some of these include Semillon, Malbec, or Sangiovese, which is an Italian varietal.

Trust me, if you like to experiment, and have your taste buds learn something new, B.R. Cohn is one of the must-visit Sonoma Valley wineries.

Another fun reason to visit B.R. Cohn is that they also produce both vinegar and olive oil. Not only that, but they make chocolate and Chardonnay sauces to add to your food. They are delicious, and if in stock, one of my favorite additions to my ice cream after a yummy dinner.

Speaking of chocolate, B.R. Cohn has a wine and chocolate pairing that you will love. Make sure to check their calendar as they often have events that include live music.

Sonoma Events

Are you looking for some additional fun as you explore these Sonoma Valley wineries? If so, you will find plenty to do all around the county on my monthly events calendars. Click the links below for details.

3. Bartholomew Park

Address: 1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma

Just to the Northeast of Sonoma, is the Bartholomew Park Winery. It got its name because it is in the middle of a 300-acre park! Not only do you get to visit a winery that has premier wines, but you also get to visit a park, a museum, and take a hike on perfectly manicured trails.

They have a limited collection of wines but produce a high-quality selection. Not surprisingly, since the winery in is a park, it is fully organic.

One of the wonderful benefits of Bartholomew Park Winery is that they have a beautiful area to have a picnic as you taste your wine and relax in the middle of nature. On clear days, you can even see all the way to the San Francisco Bay!

This is one of the Sonoma Valley wineries that also has the museum explaining the over 150-year-old history of the winery's pioneer, Agoston Haraszthy, and a collection of photographs from the influential artist Eadweard Muybridge.

Reservations for tastings are recommended, but you can always call them for same day availability. If you want private tours or prepared lunches, you'll want to make reservations ahead. Please remember that there will be an extra charge as decided by the winery.

4. Benziger Family Winery

Address: 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen

Benziger Family Winery is not only famous for their wines, but also for being sustainable, organic and biodynamic. The reason this is important is that you will have the healthiest wine for you, and for the environment, as you enjoy your time tasting and exploring the beautiful grounds of Benziger Family Winery.

And trust me, it is a beautiful and special place to taste and relax as you continue your wine tour around Sonoma.

Benziger is primarily known for the numerous red wines that they produce, but they also have a few white wines which are perfect on one of those warm Sonoma summer days.

Tastings are offered Thursday through Monday, and walk-ins are welcome.

This is another one of the Sonoma Valley wineries that offers tours. You can visit their biodynamic vineyard and wine caves. If you really want to treat yourself, you can even have a tour with Chris Benziger as you enjoy his wines and have a delicious picnic lunch! What more could you want?

5. Buena Vista

Address: 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma

Originally opened in 1857, you can feel the class, elegance, and history the second you enter the winery which was started by Agoston Harazsthy. You might think you've already heard that name, and you have!

He is the same winery owner that started Bartholomew Park that was previously mentioned in this list. He has a long history, and an interesting one, which you will want to learn more about when you visit this exquisite winery.

Something you will greatly enjoy, beyond the amazing wines prepared at Buena Vista, is the many different tours you can experience on your trip here. There are classic tastings open to anyone, but many of the visitors have said they would have felt like they had missed something special if they had skipped one on them.

There are tours that take you into the barrel room, the cellar, the wine caves, and you can have prepared picnic lunches on their gorgeous patio.

One of the two most intriguing tours is the Historic Wine Tool Museum and Tasting (you also get to visit the wine caves). I'm guessing you can imagine just how interesting, and informative, a tour like that would be!

The second tour is the Wine and Music Experience, where, not surprisingly, you get to experience tasting wine with listening to live music.

>> Find more great wineries around Northern California

Fun Fact: Sonoma Valley is the birthplace of California wine. In 1823, the first vines were planted by Franciscan monks. Buena Vista was the first established commercial winery in the area.

6. Chateau St. Jean

Address: 8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood

You will think you've taken a wrong turn as you come upon Chateau St. Jean and ended up in Europe. The winery is housed in a 1920s chateau (and therefore the name) and is a gorgeous representation of architecture from France.

Visitors are always amazed at the beauty, elegance and nature that they experience when they taste at Chateau St. Jean. Not only is there the chateau, but there are also the gardens, the vineyards, and the visitor's center and tasting room.

The winery has been opened since 1973 and has a highly respected history of making extraordinary wines that receive multiple awards. In fact, Chateau St. Jean has twice been included in Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" listing and even winning it for their 1996 vintage, and then placing 2nd in 1999.

Chateau St. Jean was one of the first wineries to use single vineyard designation. Their wines include classics like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. However, they also produce some of the more exotic wines such as Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Viognier depending on the season.

Like many Sonoma Valley wineries, they have special tastings and tours, as well as some light food and wine pairings. Make sure to check on pricing as wineries charge extra for the in-depth tastings and tours.

7. Cline Family Cellars

Sonoma Grapes in October

Address: 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma

Cline Family Cellars is your place if you are looking for tastings, and even free tours, without an appointment (though reservations are recommended). Besides tasting great wines, you can see their animals, check out their Mission Museum, and enjoy beautiful views all around.

Cline Family Cellars is, and has been since opening many years ago, dedicated to sustainable farming and continues to be a leader in that regards. Most Sonoma Valley wineries that are sustainable pay attention to irrigation, pesticides and how to keep both flora and fauna safe.

Cline, however, goes well beyond that, as they have over 500 goats and 1500 sheep to clean the vine row in spring, and then only the sheep from July to September. So, depending on when you visit, you might see some super cute animals cruising around the vineyard!

Cline is known for varietals that everyone knows and loves, and some of the more obscure wines such as Mourvedre, Carignane and sweet Late Harvest wines. Cline Cellars has more in-depth tours and tastings if you choose to reserve and pay an added charge.

A benefit of tasting is that their sister winery, Jacuzzi, is right across the street so you can taste at two locations without driving anywhere! Remember that the extra tastings and tours will cost you an extra fee so plan accordingly.

8. Deerfield Ranch

Address: 10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood

When you head into Deerfield Ranch, you are going to be in for a real treat since their tasting room is inside a 23,000-square foot CAVE. Yes, a 23,000-square foot cave. Just imagine the thrill of walking into it, looking around, and then meeting Walker, the friendly winery dog, and—after all that—being able to taste delicious wines! Trust me, you will never forget this experience.

If you have had red wine before, you might have gotten a headache when you drank it. This is because of the histamines that occur during fermentation. Deerfield Ranch reduces bacteria during fermentation and uses as few sulfites as possible. Because of their artistry and the way they make their "clean" wine, it might allow you to have red wine without having headaches.

This is another one of the Sonoma Valley wineries with wines that range from Chardonnay, to Cabernet Sauvignon, to Malbec, to dessert wines and even to sparkling wines.

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9. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Address: 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma

In what must be one of the longest histories of wine growing families on this list, the Ferrer family goes back over 600 years to the old country of Spain. The winery in the US seems like a toddler in that it opened in 1986. However, during that time they have won many awards and accolades for their incredible still and sparkling wines.

If you like sparkling wines, this is a should see on your wine tasting excursion around Sonoma Valley wineries. If you like still wines, this is also a should see. Now, if you like both of those, and wine caves, it is a must-see winery. You will be able to taste still wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and over 5 or more different types of sparkling wine.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards has many different tastings and tours for you to choose from and enjoy. Make sure to check in advance for their special tastings like the Pinot and Bites, Bubbles and Bites, or Gloria's Wine Country Picnic.

And, of course, they have tours and tastings in their caves if you want to experience that. As with all the wineries listed, the more extensive tastings and tours cost extra, and you need to book them in advance.

10. Gundlach Bundschu

Address: 2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma

Gundlach Bundschu—called "Gun Bun" if you are in-the-know and want to impress the locals—is a famous winery that has been around for over 150 years. If you like romance, Gun Bun is a great place to start since Jacob Gundlach bought 400 acres in 1858, returned to his home country of Bavaria, married his childhood sweetheart and then they moved back to the states to begin this winery.

Famous for their wines, they also are one of the best Sonoma Valley wineries to take tours of, since they have the Pinzgauer excursion, a ride around the vineyard in their classic Austrian Army transport vehicle. It holds 12 people and has 6 wheels, so it is a pretty impressive. It's a great way to see the grounds, explore areas where almost no other automobile can reach, and enjoy a wine and cheese pairing during the excursion.

Trust me, the photos you take will amaze any of your friends when you come back from your trip.

If you don't want to drive around the vineyards, Gun Bun also has a private patio, caves, and you can always visit the "Donkey Bar" which is dedicated to their two donkeys, Daisy and Knickers and enjoy wines and cheeses.

And, beyond their tours and tastings, Gun Bun has fantastic wines including Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, and a Rhinefarm rose among other standard varietals. The other tastings, and tours, require an extra fee just as the rest of the Sonoma Valley wineries on this list.

11. Imagery Estate

Address: 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen

Imagery Estate may not be a winery you have heard of before, but that is exactly why you want to visit—to explore something new on your trip around the beautiful Sonoma Valley. When you taste some of their wines, you'll be excited by the amount of ordinary varietals they carry such as Malbec, Tempranillo, and the little known, but delightful Lagrein, which is a varietal originally from Italy.

The people at Imagery Estate is also known for having a humorous attitude towards wine, and wine making. As they write on their website, "if you are tired of …chard, merlot, cab… blah, blah, blah… then this is the winery for you," and we could not agree more.

Some of the more fun and special opportunities at this winery are the Gallery Tour, which combines art and wine, and the seating tastings, where you get to cozy up next to the fire.

While reservations are required for tours and seated tastings, they offer open tastings in their tasting room, and you can have fun learning more about their distinctive and creative wines as you taste them. Lastly, they have lawn picnic tables that will allow for a gorgeous view as you sip your wine and enjoy the gorgeous wine country.

12. Kenwood Vineyards

Address: 9592 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood

One of the fun reasons to visit Kenwood Vineyards is that they have a lot of varietals you will want to taste during your visit. They have many different labels, for different styles of wine, which allow you to be adventurous as you let your taste buds enjoy which wine suits your mood.

Unlike many of the Sonoma Valley wineries listed here, Kenwood only has two different tastings that they offer. One is the Classic Tasting and the other is the Vintner's Choice Tasting.

The Classic includes 5 tastings from their Sonoma Series, Jack London Vineyard, and one from the Six Ridges series. See what I mean about lots of choices? I wasn't kidding!

As for the Vintner's Choice, it includes new releases and limited production and a library tasting of the Artist Series red wine blend.

Some of the wines that you will enjoy include Merlot, Petite Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandels.

More Things to Do in Sonoma

In addition to visiting these Sonoma Valley wineries, make sure to check out the other fun things to do throughout the county. Here are a few of the most popular options.

Sonoma Valley: 12 Fun Wineries to Visit

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