Tasting wine is fantastic, but sometimes you want a little bit more — a deeper experience, something new, something different. A number of Sonoma County wineries can oblige, with a chance to learn, or perhaps the opportunity to explore — either behind the scenes or to investigate the larger environment.
Here's a quick list of just some of the wineries that offer an array of other activities. Pick the most intriguing of these well-rounded adventures.
Cline Cellars, Sonoma
It’s hard to grasp everything that is part of this postcard-beautiful winery. The tasting room is located in an 1850s farmhouse. The historic property was once the site of a Miwok Village, and was the first camp of the Sonoma Mission (there’s even an on-site California Missions Museum). Today, this property is home to six spring-fed ponds, more than 5,000 rose bushes, dozens of graceful willow trees, and, oh yeah, wine.
One of the most delightful ways to take it all in is with the Syrah Hill Experience. This two-hour guided tour starts with a glass of Nancy's Cuvee in the tasting room, followed by a walk around the historic ranch and winery, then a ride through the estate vineyards to the top of Syrah Hill for panoramic views of Sonoma Valley, the San Pablo Bay, and wetlands. In this spectacular setting, guests enjoy a seated tasting of reserve wines paired with local artisan cheeses.
The Syrah Hill Experience is available twice daily; $45 per person, maximum of 12; reservations required. The experience depends on good weather; refunds will be issued if the weather does not cooperate. (24737 Highway 121/Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-940-4000)
Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Healdsburg
Ride in style to remote destinations on a nearly 1,200-acre property in Alexander Valley on the three-hour Estate Tour & Tasting at Jordan Vineyard & Winery. Take in breathtaking vistas while exploring vineyards, chef gardens, and more. This is a farm-to-table, wine-and-food-tasting excursion showcasing foods grown on the property.
Under the direction of second-generation vintner John Jordan, the estate has evolved into a working ranch with chickens for eggs, cattle for beef, bees for honey, olive oil, and a cutting garden for floral arrangements. More than three-quarters of the estate is dedicated to natural habitat, too, an oasis where craggy oak trees surround the vineyards, herons and geese swim the lakes, and rabbits and deer roam the rolling hills.
Rounding it out is 110 acres of grapevines, 18 acres of olive trees, gardens, lakes, pastures, and endless woods, all capped by a glass-encased food and wine tasting pavilion atop a knoll at 650-feet-elevation with 360-degree views of the North Coast Ranges’ Mayacamas and Vaca mountains. Up to 12 guests can join for this three hour-tour via luxury vehicle and by foot.
Estate Tour & Tasting, 9:45 a.m. Thursdays through Mondays, May through October only. $120 per guest; by appointment only. (1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-5250)
Lynmar Estate, Sebastopol
Gain a unique and intimate understanding of the philosophy behind this winery’s harnd crafted wines through the Collector’s Flight tasting. This in-depth, privately hosted experience provides a tasting and guided discussion of six limited-release wines, and can be customized to meet your wine-education needs. By-appointment-only, 90-minute sessions are held daily.
With an advance request, you can follow your Collector’s Flight tasting with a free tour of this amazing property. Explore the culinary and flower gardens, then take in views of the vineyards, which were planted more than 40 years ago using stock sourced from the renowned Joseph Swan.
Or, sign up for the popular Lynmar Lunch. This 90 minute, three course, farm-to-table lunch features delightful creations made with estate grown and locally sourced ingredients thoughtfully prepared with select Lynmar wines.
Collector’s Flight tasting, $60 per person; Lynmar Lunch, $65 per person; and reservations are required. (3909 Frei Road, Sebastopol, 707-829-3374)
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa
This winery's elegant mission-style tower is visible from the Sonoma Highway, and within awaits another treasure. The wine and food tasting offers a wonderful five-course meal (yes, meal) from executive chef Bryan Jones. An assortment of small dishes are paired with hand-selected artisan wines, as guests enjoy stunning vineyard and garden views, in a relaxed fine-dining presentation at a shared table.
Each seating is hosted by a friendly wine expert, and the dishes change daily to reflect seasonal markets. Typical temptations might include burned apricot and prosciutto salad with basil ricotta, fried prosciutto, focaccia croutons and lemon vinaigrette; and roasted Sonoma duck with wild rice, roasted cherries, haricot vert, tamari, and orange jus.
The wine and food pairing is offered in three seatings Thursdays to Mondays (closed Tuesday & Wednesday); $68 per person, reservations strongly recommended, with reservations required for groups of six or more. (100 Pythian Road, Santa Rosa, 707-538-9463)
If the exact experience you're searching for isn't on this list, check out which Sonoma County wineries have wine caves, which offer overnight lodging, and which provide access to outdoor activities. Or, visit our list of all Sonoma County Wineries and click on Tours & Tastings to narrow your results.