It’s tempting to report that Knights Valley is one of the last, remote corners of Sonoma County that’s undeveloped, like a picture postcard of the sleepy agricultural valleys of an older California. But that isn’t the whole story: Knights Valley is one of the few areas that may have actually become more rural over the last century.
Formerly part of a Mexican land grant holding of one Jose de los Santos Berryessa, Mallocomes Valley was renamed after Thomas B. Knight, a New England immigrant said to have participated in the Bear Flag Revolt.
Once the valley had a small town, in any case, founded by real estate speculator F. E. Kellogg in the 19th century. Before Prohibition, grapes were major business in the valley.
But the post office, general store, and the town of Kellogg burned down in the 1960s. When vineyards and wineries eventually returned to the valley, they brought no tasting rooms, no hotels, and no commercial development of any kind with them.
However, today there are 2,000 vineyard acres in Knights Valley, which earned AVA status in 1983.
Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals reign in this warm, high valley. Also Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Lay of the Land
The Knights Valley AVA abuts the Alexander Valley AVA to the west, Chalk Hill to the south, and cozies up to Calistoga, in Napa Valley, on the east. The only practical access to the valley is via twisty sections of Highway 128 through mountainous terrain. Suddenly the road straightens out in a high valley, where it’s bordered by stately oaks draped with Spanish moss. Vineyards take the lion’s share of the flat land, but cattle operations and a gourmet truck farm are also important. Sonoma County’s highest mountain, ancient volcanic Mount Saint Helena, towers over Knights Valley.
Some of the most operators in Knights Valley that are Sonoma County wineries, but with mailing addresses in nearby Calistoga, include Peter Michael Winery, Moran Manor, and Speedy Creek. Many wineries have important vineyards here, including Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates, Ledson, and Clos du Bois. The Bavarian Lion Vineyards are owned by the owners of the Flamingo Resort Hotel in Sonoma County.
Seek out small producers in Santa Rosa’s industrial winery zone for a taste of intense Knights Valley Syrah from Donelan Family Wines, or Cabernet Sauvignon from Anakota.
Restaurants and Lodging near Knights Valley
Part of the beauty of Knights Valley is that there are no restaurants or lodging here. If hungry for some of wine country’s best sandwiches, backtrack to Alexander Valley’s Jimtown Store, only a few minutes away. In Geyserville, dine at family restaurant Catelli’s or enjoy wood-fired pizza at Diavola. The Geyserville Inn offers vineyard views, and bed and breakfast Hope-Merrill House is furnished with wall-to-wall Victorian decor.
Written by Sonoma Insider James Knight
Sonoma County Appellations (AVA):
Carneros - Sonoma
Dry Creek Valley
Fort Ross - Seaview
Green Valley of Russian River Valley
Pine Mountain - Cloverdale Peak
Russian River Valley