Sonoma Wineries: 15 Fun Places for Wine Tasting

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: February 6, 2023

A visit to these Sonoma wineries offers you the chance to sample some of the best wines from the area. They include those near Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. My recommendations are from several regions including the largest in the county: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, & Russian River.

In terms of varietals, my list includes everything from the best Pinot Noirs to tasty Chardonnays to hearty Cabernet Sauvignons. Read on for more ideas on the best places to taste during your visit to Sonoma County.

The average price for most tastings is around $25. If you choose the more extravagant experiences, such as reserve tastings or tastings in the wine caves, it can cost $100 or more.

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

1. Pedroncelli Winery

Enjoying wine at Pedroncelli in Sonoma County

Address: 1220 Canyon Road, Geyserville

Tasting: Reservations recommended

The fabulous family-owned Pedroncelli Winery is just a quick drive north of Healdsburg on Dry Creek Road. This tasting room gives you beautiful views of the Dry Creek Valley while nestled among the redwoods.

Opened in 1927 by John Pedroncelli, it is now in the 4th generation of the family. This winery is known to make some of the best Zinfandel anywhere.

They have classics like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, but they also make lesser-known wines like Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. If you've never tried them, Pedroncelli is a must-visit.

They have preselected tasting flights of 4 wines, but you can build your own if you want.

The winery has also been "Certified Sustainable," which means that they compost as much as possible, their pruning and all harvesting are done by hand to reduce carbon emissions, they use cover crops to help reduce water usage, and more.

Fun fact: Julie Pedroncelli (the current owner) used to babysit my husband, Aram!

2. Dry Creek Vineyard

Ripe grapes hanging on a vine in Sonoma County, CA.Ripe grapes hanging from a vine in Sonoma County, CA.

Address: 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations recommended

Dave Stare, the original owner of Dry Creek Vineyards, opened the winery in 1972. Always on the cutting edge, he created its now famous Sauvignon Blanc before anyone else in Sonoma County.

Realizing there was so much opportunity for fabulous wine in the valley, he continued to expand, and the winery became famous for its Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Meritage, and more.

Simply stated, their winery and tasting room looks like a beautiful castle in the middle of the Dry Creek Valley.

As for the tastings, you have numerous options including a private seated one, a wine-and-picnic tasting, or a tasting and tour combination. A favorite is the "Bocce Experience," where you and your friends play on their bocce court as you enjoy a personal host who will serve you wine and delicious characturie from the tasting room.

They also have a gorgeous picnic area where you and your group can eat lunch, have a few glasses of wine, and enjoy yourselves.

Fun fact: Aram, my husband, used to work at DCV for many years in the cellar and the tasting room! It is like family.

3. Lancaster Estate

Sonoma Valley Address: 15001 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

Lancaster Estate is another great option if you want a starting point on your wine-tasting adventure. It has been around since 1974 and is well known for its excellent selection of top-quality wines. They are especially well known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We love that this winery is both old and new school. Old school includes classic hand sorting, fermentation, and aging techniques. New school consists of their satellite mapping to ensure every vine grows ideally and produces the best grapes possible.

You are going to love the views, and the incredibly delicious wines, whenever you visit this gorgeous location. There are several tastings to choose from, including the Estate Tasting outside in the grove with their fantastic Bordeaux varieties.

I love The Hillside Cave Tour and Tasting, where you can taste inside the winery and feel the atmosphere. The Terroir Excursion is also a blast, as you ride around in a special vehicle and then taste in the caves.

Other fun events are going on throughout the year, so check ahead and see what might be happening. 

>> Find more great Northern California Wineries

4. DeLoach Vineyards

DeLoach Wine Tasting

Address: 1791 Olivet Road, Santa Rosa

Tasting: Reservations recommended

DeLoach Vineyards is one of the Sonoma wineries that offers an experience you don't want to miss. They provide great wines for those into healthy living and wanting to try some wines that are made in the "old world" style.

I love that DeLoach Vineyards devotes itself to this premise, as all the wine they produce is organic and biodynamic. Make sure to walk around their "Theater of Nature," which includes of 20-acres of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and so much more.

One of the choices you want to make when you visit DeLoach Vineyards is which of the numerous tasting options you wish to take advantage of while you are staying there.

They have over half a dozen different tasting options, including a barrel tasting, a cellar tour, and, depending on the day, a "Pizza Day at Deloach" tasting! And, if you just want to relax on your own, you can have a delicious picnic lunch in their vineyard with your favorite bottle of their wine.

>> Find more great wineries around Santa Rosa

5. Rued Winery

Rued Wine in Dry Creek Valley

Address: 3850 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

Rued Winery is a small, family-owned vineyard and winery. They are known for their incredible Zinfandels, Chardonnays, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Henry Rued moved from Switzerland in 1876 and started growing grapes here in 1882. Recognizing that their grapes were some of the best, they sold them to top-flight wineries in Sonoma for years.

Realizing that just selling them to others wasn't enough, they decided to make a change. And with that, the family decided to open their own winery in 2000 with Henry's grandson, Steve, as the head of it. Now with six generations under their belt, they continue to operate with pride.

You will feel like you are part of their family when you visit their cozy tasting room and learn about their wine and wine-making process. In fact, they enjoy sharing their love of wine with people so much that there is a good chance you'll meet one of the family in the tasting room.

Trust me; this is precisely why I love the winery so much: you aren't just another visitor or "taster" here. You become a part of the Rued family for the rest of your life.

6. J. Vineyards

Address: 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

If you are looking for some of the best sparkling wine from one of the top Sonoma wineries, you will be glad you stopped by J. Vineyards. They are rather famous for their sparkling wine marked by only a large "J".

It really stands apart, as does this winery in its service and style. Since J. Vineyards is just north of Santa Rosa, it is a great winery to visit as you enter, or leave, the Healdsburg wine region.

As the sparkling wines start with just the varietal grapes, you also get to taste still wines at J. I am often told that comparing the different styles makes the tastings even more inviting and exciting.

There are several other tasting choices, including luxurious options like the five-course tasting menu in the J Bubble Room, or a wine flight with an artisan cheese pairing in the Legacy Lounge. See which one suits your fancy for your visit.

Note: If you are worried about whether to say "Sparkling wine" or "Champagne," the answer is easy: Only wine from the Champagne region in France can be called "Champagne."

7. Buena Vista Winery

Address: 18000 Old Winery Rd, Sonoma

Tasting: Reservations required

Buena Vista Winery makes the top of my list as they were the first premier winery in California when they opened in 1857.

You will feel like you have stepped back in time when you visit this historic winery. We love that they have so many tastings and that you can sample new releases and library wines. The tastings start with ones inside "The Press House" and continue to seated tastings, a "Grand Reserve Tasting" in one of their caves, and the "Barrel Tasting and Winery Tour."

For those that love a bit of the bubbly, you'll want to try the "Bubble Lounge Sparkling Wine Flight."

The Buena Vista is one of the Sonoma wineries where you can enjoy a picnic. It's just a short drive from the Sonoma town square.

8. Dutton-Goldfield Winery

Address: 3100 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol

Tasting: Reservations recommended; walk-ins accepted based on availability

Dutton-Goldfield is one of the most highly awarded wineries on this list. It has been named a winner of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries an impressive eight times. Also, if you want to bring Fido along, it is one of the 17 Best Dog-Friendly Wineries in Sonoma County.

This stunning winery is located in the tiny town of Sebastopol. If you don't know of the town or the winery, you are for a delightful surprise. Sebastopol is a rustic and beautiful town where the locals all know each other, and you'll be welcome as you walk around and experience it.

Dutton Goldfield is known for their delicious Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Zinfandels. They also have lesser-known wines like Gewurztraminer and Rieslings, which taste like liquid gold.

Their tasting experiences rival any other winery in their stunning tasting room. They include their discovery tasting, a Pinot Noir varietal-specific tasting, and an outstanding wine and cheese tasting.

Wine Tour from San Francisco: If this is your first time to visit Sonoma wineries, you can also visit on a guided wine tasting tour. This one is a great option that leaves from Sonoma. This is a great option if you are staying in San Francisco and only have a day to visit.

9. Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Address: 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville

Tasting: No reservations needed for the Main Floor Tasting Bar; reservations recommended for Seated Tasting on the Terrace

If you are a movie buff, you'll know the name Francis Ford Coppola, director of famous movies such as The Godfather, The Cotton Club, and Apocalypse Now. If you aren't a movie buff, you'll know him for his exquisite and award-winning wines.

If you've ever dreamed of tasting wine, eating world-class food, and overlooking a gorgeous valley from a castle, then this is the winery for you.

You can start with the tasting in their stunning tasting room or possibly choose to taste and see how the bottling line works as you tour the facility. Or you could do the Wine and Bocce Experience out on the court!

The winery also has a museum dedicated to Francis Ford Coppola's movies and life, so you are welcome to visit and get a bit of Hollywood history as you taste his wines.

The Francisco Ford Coppola Winery has a fantastic restaurant and a pool bar for those that want a different experience.

10. Gundlach Bundschu

Address: 200 Denmark Street, Sonoma

Tasting: Appointment only

Gundlach Bundschu was opened in 1858 and is one of my favorite Sonoma wineries for numerous reasons. It is sustainably farmed, meaning they use solar power, minimize use of fertilizers by relying on the birds and insects, and recycle everything that they can. They are also family and dog-friendly.

Another reason we love Gundlach Bundschu is that their wines are exceptional, and they have cave tours! It is a must-do if you've never experienced a cave tour, especially when you have a glass of wine with you. They also have wine tastings paired with cheese and charcuterie boards.

If you want an experience unlike any other, ask about the "Pinzgauer Excursion." This is an Austrian army vehicle tour where they will take you all around the vineyard as you enjoy their wine and end the tour with a wine and cheese pairing.

Suppose you want to try a few different wines, like Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, and a Tempranillo Rose, then Gun Bun (as the locals call it) has to be on your list of wineries to visit here in Sonoma County.

11. Hanna Winery

Address: 9280 Highway 128, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

The northern Bay Area is most known for its colossal redwood trees, but there are also massive oak trees that protect the vineyards from storms and wind. If you've ever wanted to have one of these huge trees over you as you taste delicious wine, then Hanna is a winery you will want to visit and explore.

Some tasting options include the classic seated tasting outside, a wine & cheese pairing, and a special wine and picnic tasting underneath one of the massive oak trees. Located on Highway 128 in Alexander Valley, it is surrounded by beautiful flora that will make you think you are in a world thousands of miles away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

As well as the classics like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, Hanna also has rarer wines like Malbec or Meritage, which is a Bordeaux blend.

If you can't make it to Healdsburg, Hanna also has a second tasting room in Santa Rosa at 5353 Occidental Road.

12. Iron Horse Vineyards

Iron Horse Winery

Address: 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol

Tasting: Reservations required

If you've read this list and wondered where the sparkling Sonoma wineries are, you have just found what you were looking for. Iron Horse is also in the small town of Sebastopol and is a perfect place to drink delicious wines and have some scrumptious food as you view Mount Saint Helena in the distance.

Most sparkling wine is made with either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes. So, one of the benefits of visiting Iron Horse is that you can taste the grapes that make the sparkling wines in their native state and then see the difference as they are developed into sparkling wines.

They only offer one tasting experience, which is outdoors with a gorgeous view. They recommend you book your appointment at least two weeks in advance for weekends. I think it is more than worth it because their sparkling wines are so delicious.

Wine Tasting Fact: Here's a little secret you can use to impress all your friends, and even the locals: The reason it is named "Sparkling Wine" is that it can only be called "Champagne" if it comes from that region in France. Cool secret, right?

Don't forget that tours and tastings often have an extra fee added to them compared to the basic tasting, just like all of the other Sonoma wineries mentioned on this list.

13. Mauritson Wines

Address: 2859 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

For those who know their wines, the Rockpile region is regarded as one of the best in Dry Creek Valley. Mauritson started in 1868, growing their grapes and then selling them to Sonoma wineries around the valley.

After many years, the family decided they wanted to express their style and started a winery. They produced their first Zinfandel in 1998 and have never looked back.

Something to note about Mauritson is that they produce a few different varietals, so they are very diligent and specific about each one. A bit of important information for your visit is that Mauritson has four different labels they produce wine under, so make sure to try them all.

They have two tasting options: one in the tasting room overlooking the vineyards, and the other in the cellar for a behind-the-scenes experience. They also offer tours of the vineyards. Even though there aren't many choices, you will enjoy their personal attention as you sip their delightful wines.

Wine Tasting Deals on Groupon

You will find some great wine tasting deals for Sonoma wineries on Groupon. Here are a few that are currently running.

Battaglini Winery & Vineyard: $5 Buys You a Coupon for $5 Off a Wine Tasting for Two Plus 20% Off a Bottle of Wine, near Santa Rosa, check for availability

Harvest Moon Estate And Winery: Save on their wine and cheese tasting plates for one, two or four people, near Santa Rosa, check for availability

*Note: Most deals last for 120 days after purchase, so make sure to check the exact terms before purchasing.

14. Ridge Vineyards - Lytton Springs

Address: 650 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations required

On the sublime little road of Lytton Springs, where there are only a few Sonoma wineries, Ridge sits on the edge of a pretty vineyard. Ridge is known for producing wines both in Sonoma County and the Santa Cruz mountains (about 150 miles south), so you will get to taste wines from two different appellations, both sustainably farmed.

Few Sonoma wineries afford this opportunity, so make sure to take advantage of this and plan your trip accordingly.

If you want their essential tasting experience, it is in the tasting room, where you can also go out on the deck and view the vineyards. If you want a memorable experience, check out their Century Tour of the vineyards and library tasting. Another tasting option is Beautiful Mountain which lets you taste numerous wines from their Santa Cruz appellation.

Ridge is famous for some of the best Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Merlots. If you feel more adventurous and haven't tried some more exotic wines, you can check out their Petite Syrah or Petite Verdot.

15. Thumbprint Cellars

Address: 102 Matheson Street, Healdsburg

Tasting: Reservations suggested

Located in the heart of downtown Healdsburg, Thumbprint has one of the most fun tasting rooms—The Lounge—because it doubles as an art gallery.

Thumbprint is known for its extensive list of wines (over 25!), which allows you to try many different varietals in one sitting. In addition, they are all sustainably farmed, but unlike most Sonoma wineries, they are also vegan! Some of these include Gewurztraminers, Malbec, and some of their more playfully named wines like Arousal or Climax, which are blends of different varietals.

Unlike most wineries, you pay for each taste you want, which is up to you. Unlike most wineries, you do not need to make an appointment to do the pairings, so walk in and let your palate decide which is best for you.

There is a unique tasting requiring a reservation outdoors with several specially selected wines for you to enjoy.

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Sonoma Wineries: 15 Fun Finds

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