Sipping premium wines and nibbling gourmet goodies can be even more delightful when enhanced by the perfect ambiance — and Sonoma County wineries deliver a variety of special settings to enjoy the fruits of the vine and garden.
Here's a quick overview of just a few of the many possibilities for your perfect luxury wine-tasting experience. Please call ahead to make a reservation.
Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, Healdsburg
Taste fine wines deep inside a hillside at Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves in Healdsburg. Nearly 7,000 square feet of caves are carved out of the steep hillside beneath the estate’s prized Lily Hill vineyard.
In addition to 5,200 square feet of barrel storage and working space, about 1,500 square feet of the caverns houses a tasting room, dining room, private tasting bar, and a performance room for concerts, chef-led cooking classes, and more. The underground space easily blends rustic beauty and intimate elegance.
This small, family-owned winery located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley focuses on limited-production, vineyard-designate wines using Zinfandel grapes from old-vine vineyards. Their goal is to balance rich, sensuous textures and compelling fruit with the character and complexity that come from vines planted more than 100 years ago.
9711 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-473-9171
Hans Fahden Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa/Calistoga
Located on a hillside in the Mayacamas mountains and owned by the Fahden family since 1912, this 100-acre property features a volcanic wine cave and a Monet-style garden setting, including a teahouse overlooking lily ponds.
Complimentary wine tastings are available by appointment only, and visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and tour the gardens. Delicious three-course candlelit dinners are available for groups of 20 or more, Monday to Thursday (individual seatings may be available).
Now run by the third generation of the Fahden family, each year this winery produces about 2,500 cases of rich, dark Cabernet Sauvignon from its estate vineyards. The volcanic ash in the soil imparts a deep color and distinct flavor to the wine.
4855 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, 707-942-6760
Lynmar Estate, Sebastopol
This winery features a modern look that still embraces the land and all it has to offer. Its grounds include a sleek and elegant tasting room with clean lines and soaring overhead beams; an expansive courtyard with magnificent views of rolling vineyards and gardens; and a rustic redwood grove, with a wood-fired oven set among majestic trees.
Now more than 30 years old, this family-owned-and-operated winery provides a distinct mosaic of varied terroir, quiet redwood groves, rolling vineyards, and thriving wildlife. Lynmar is committed to sustainable farming, biodiversity, and farm-to-table cuisine, and produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Rose varietals. (Photo by Chris Majors.)
3903 Frei Road, Sebastopol, 707-829-3374
Ram’s Gate Winery & Estate Vineyard, Sonoma
On a rising hillside at the southern entrance to Sonoma Valley sits a spectacular winery, with 30-foot-high ceilings, walls made of reclaimed snow fence, and massive floor-to-ceiling glass walls that open to sweeping vineyard and bay views.
Designed to fuse classic elegance with a youthful spirit, the winery's exterior is a modern interpretation of the weathered farmsteads in the area. Inside is an eclectic mix of contemporary chic and urban cool — relaxed yet refined.
For the winery's food-pairing program, everything starts with the wine. All of Ram's Gate wines are made with grapes either from the winery's vineyards or from carefully selected vineyards nearby. The winemaking team's goal is to make the finest possible small lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that can only be produced by the local climate and terroir. By appointment only, please call to make a reservation.
28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-721-8700
Thomas George Estates, Healdsburg
The past melds seamlessly with the future at this winery, housed in a historic 1902 hop kiln building completely renovated into a state-of-the-art winemaking facility. The building is surrounded by beautiful grounds with four separate picnic areas.
The property also includes 8,000 square feet of wine caves that were excavated in 2010, creating an elaborate, lavish space of rough rock hung with glamorous chandeliers. This underground space includes a tasting bar, a private tasting lounge, a wine library, and a dining area that can seat 70 people.
Run by a father-son team, Thomas George Estates produces small-lot artisan wines, focusing on site-specific Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays grown in the cool heart of the Russian River Valley.
8075 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-8031.
Other exclusive and unique wineries in Sonoma County:
- Buena Vista Winery, in Sonoma, is the oldest commercial winery in California. Built in 1857, it's an official historic landmark, including its elegantly dark and mysterious wine caves.
- Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, in Healdsburg, offers a sense of serenity and seclusion, on more than 1,300 scenic acres devoted to vineyards, a winery, hospitality center, culinary garden, residence, stables, equestrian pavilion, sports fields, ponds, guest houses, and wilderness.
- Deerfield Ranch Winery, in Kenwood, features tastings in the relaxing comfort of its Grand Room, located at the center of its wine-glass-shaped, 23,000-square-foot wine caves.
- Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, in Healdsburg, perches atop a ridge along winding Westside Road, providing spectacular views of the sweeping valley below.
- Jordan Vineyard & Winery, tucked into the foothills of the Alexander Valley near Healdsburg, offers breathtaking views and a true farm-to-table experience on 1,200 acres.
- Lambert Bridge Winery, in Healdsburg, features a charming tasting room with wooden walls, vaulted ceiling, and a glass wall looking into the barrel room. Its lavish grounds include cascading vines, colorful flowers, and an expansive lawn overlooking vineyards and forests.
- Paradise Ridge Winery, in Santa Rosa, is known for having “the most beautiful view in Sonoma County.”
- Robert Hunter Winery, in Sonoma, offers a spectacular view amid an exotic botanical garden; this boutique winery produces small lots of four wines, all sourced from the estate vineyard. (Open by appointment only.)
Written by Patricia Lynn Henley