We’ve been to California wine country many, many times together. It is one of our favorite places to visit. There are SO many towns and wineries to choose from, but our favorite region of California’s wine country is Sonoma County. Charming Sonoma County is a bit more of a laid-back country feel which makes it the best place to indulge, unwind, and disconnect. When the California wildfires ravaged parts of wine country, Sonoma County was very lucky to come out relatively unscathed. With the help of the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, we discovered some amazing winemakers that are now our favorite, can’t-miss wineries in Sonoma.
St. Francis Winery and Vineyards
The vineyard was stunning, the wines were fantastic, and the food was outstanding. If you’re a foodie, you can’t miss St. Francis’ wine-paired lunch. Katie Madigan was named the International Women Winemaker of the Year and Chef Trevor Eliason, previously at The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro, builds his dishes to pair perfectly with her wines. The meal is built around the wines instead of vice versa, like at most wine dinners. It is so popular that there are three sessions of the wine-paired lunches each day. The pours are large and the food was delicious, using only the best ingredients. We could’ve stayed at the vineyard for hours. If we were to choose to do a wine and food pairing anywhere, this would be the winery. At St. Francis 10 year wine club members even get a vine named after them – talk about goals! 100 Pythian Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95409, https://www.stfranciswinery.com/
Iron Horse Vineyards
This independent, estate-grown, and family-owned winery feels like a less pretentious experience for a sparkling wine tasting. Mosey up to the outdoor bar and partake in a tasting of fantastic wines with the sweeping rows of palm trees, olive trees and grape vines surrounding you. The tasting area is on a peak, so you’ll feel immersed in the California views during the outdoor tasting. We enjoyed a flight of their sparkling wines, which they ferment in the bottle. They were smooth and delicious. Iron Horse also has non-sparkling wines, so you can have your pick between the sparkling flight, chardonnay flight or pinot flight. 9786 Ross Station Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472, http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com/
Gary Farrell Winery
Marvel at some terrific wine making while lounging in chic, mid-century modern decor. This high altitude oasis sits on the top of a peak. You’ll take in some exceptional views of the Russian River Valley on their patio or through their floor-to-ceiling windows. Plan to do a cheese and wine pairing for a stellar taste of the region. The cheeses they served were already some of our favorites from the region like Mount Tam cheese, but something about their wines (plus that view) paired perfectly with their cheese selection. 10701 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, http://www.garyfarrellwinery.com/
Gloria Ferrer Vineyard
We’re sucker for bubbles and Gloria Ferrer does not disappoint. We tasted some remarkable vintage sparkling wines during our last visit while meeting with business partners in the private tasting room. They have acres and acres of vines, which leads to a plethora of estate wines. Gloria Ferrer has some of the best pinot noir in California, which is probably why we really enjoyed their Blanc de Noirs, a sparkling wine made of pinot grapes. When planning your visit, look into scheduling a winery tour or a country picnic. 23555 Highway 121, Sonoma, CA, 95476 https://www.gloriaferrer.com/
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
A bonus listing! While not a winery, we couldn’t recommend the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa more. We stayed at this location after a fun-filled day of tastings. The property is expansive with a heated pool, full spa, and fire pits near the rooms. We enjoyed the tasting menu with wine pairings at their on-site restaurant, Sante. One of the top-rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area, Sante showcased their incredible wine selection with wine pairings that complimented gourmet dishes like the house made tagliatelle topped with king crab and uni as well as the slow cooked bo bo poultry with black truffles and lobster-chicken jus. Be sure to not skip breakfast! Sante wow’d us once again with dungeness crab benedict, acai bowls filled with fruit and honey, and an omelette stuffed with lobster. 100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, CA 95476, https://www.fairmont.com/sonoma/
There you have it, five wine experiences in Sonoma that you’ll never forget! We know you’ll love these recommendations, so be sure to tag us on social media when you visit. We know we’re already planning our next trip back to Sonoma. Until then, we will enjoy the seven bottles of wine we stuffed in our suitcase from our most recent trip!