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Glen Ellen: Wine Tasting

In addition to great wines, Benziger Family Winery offers tram tours of its extensive vineyards and grounds.

It’s not surprising that the charming village of Glen Ellen (pop. 784) includes so many wineries and tasting rooms. After all, the town’s name derives from a 1,000-acre vineyard established there in 1868 by California pioneer Charles V. Stuart. His wife’s name was Ellen, so he called the beautiful spot Glen Ellen. He later changed it to Glen Oaks Ranch when the village that grew up nearby took the name Glen Ellen.

Stuart’s vineyard wasn’t the first in Glen Ellen, nor the last. In the late 19th century, California farmers and ranchers typically grew their own grapes and made their own wine. Today, grapes and winemaking still grace Glen Ellen’s rocky hills, with the results reaching a much wider audience.

Glen Ellen belongs to the Sonoma Mountain American Viticultural Area (AVA, or wine region), known for diverse micro-climates on rocky hillside terrain. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Zinfandel.

While visiting Glen Ellen, you can taste these excellent wines, including many award-winners, by visiting local wineries and tasting rooms.

Each winery has its own personality (and so do the wines). For example, Benziger Family Winery, a biodynamic wine pioneer, offers not just great wine but also tram tours of its extensive vineyards and grounds. At Loxton Cellars, chances are that owner and winemaker Chris Loxton will pour your taste himself. And Imagery Estate Winery specializes in experimenting with new or little-known varietals, plus it has a captivating art collection.

It helps narrow your selection down if you do a little advance research, figuring out which wineries and wines match what you’re looking for. In addition to Benziger, Imagery, and Loxton, Glen Ellen's wineries and tasting rooms include: