Come to Sonoma County for the Wine Club Party, Stay for So Much More
One of the satisfying perks of the 21st century is being able to order just about anything and have it show up on your doorstep. If you’re a wine club member – or even if you just order a few bottles occasionally – then you’ve experienced the delight of finding bubbly, Zin, or Grenache on your doorstep. Ever wonder, though, what you’re missing by staying at home waiting for your box full of goodies to arrive, rather than picking it up yourself?
Showing up to a winery to taste in person exponentially enriches your experience. Below are just a few reasons why it’s worth the trip to pick up in person – and then, maybe even stay the night.
Relish Sensory Tastings
Any winery visit is a sensory journey. From the scent of sunshine on the vines, to the whiff of fermentation in the tanks, to the aromas in the glass, you’re guaranteed an experience that simply can’t be packaged and shipped.
For example, with its award-winning “Shifting the Lens” series, J. Vineyards in Healdsburg invites chefs with diverse backgrounds for a two-week winery residency to showcase cuisines and perspectives rarely represented in Wine Country tasting experiences.
“As a female-founded and led winery,” says winemaker Nicole Hitchcock,” inclusivity has continued to be a central part of our heritage, and we are committed to fulfilling our vital role in shaping racial and gender representation in the wine industry for generations to come.”
Another winemaker working to broaden the typical wine tasting experience is Hardy Wallace, who plans to open a tasting room for Extradimensional Wine Co. Yeah! on the Sonoma Plaza in September 2023. A recent winery event, hosted at Valley Bar + Bottle, offered unconventional multi-sensory tastings involving touch, sound, and scent.
“We’ve been studying a lot of aromatics and how they interact with emotion and experience,” says Wallace. “I haven’t been this excited about something in wine for years.”
That excitement is contagious: Past club events, which have included campouts, nature hikes, funk concerts, and wine dinners, have drawn members to fly in from around the globe. Why not join them and try something different?
Soak Up Stunning Settings
You’ve already seen the iconic, fairytale photos of Sonoma County – sweeping vineyards, rocky coastlines, undulating fields, quaint towns. Is this place really that gorgeous in real life? It sure is! And it might be time for a reminder!
Book a private tour or vineyard hike with SUTRO Wine Co., situated on historic Warnecke Ranch in the Alexander Valley. The experience will not only give you excellent views, but intriguing insight into the geology and history of the region. Members and fans are also invited to enjoy the winery’s harvest dinners, including “live music and dancing under the stars” on the ranch. What better way to experience Sonoma County in its glory?
Across the county, at The Donum Estate, you won’t just find classic Pinot Noirs and vineyard views. You’ll also find one of the largest accessible private sculpture collections in the world. With 50 pieces of artwork across 200 acres of Carneros, the collection features a range of work including monumental artists including Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgeois, and Keith Haring.
In the words of Ai Weiwei, whose work also appears on the estate grounds, “Wine can instill a moment of inspiration or madness; art can do the same.” Come to Sonoma County, then, and find your inspiration.
Find Your People
Most folks agree that wine is intended to bring people together. When you come to Sonoma County and pick up your wine in person, rather than having it shipped, you’ll discover a vibrant community of oenophiles.
One winery that excels at creating community is LaRue Wines, where owner Katy Wilson isn't just skilled at crafting cool-climate wines, but also has a knack for throwing a good party. LaRue's members-only barbecue event stars her own father as the pitmaster, and involves the opening of a few very special library wines.
“It is a great opportunity for members to hang out with the LaRue family and with each other,” says Wilson. “Our growers also come to the event, so it is really great for our members to get to know them as well.”
For many wine lovers, the experience of making wine is a dream come true. Trombetta Winery invites you into the vineyard for “Harvest Camp.” Warm up with coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls, followed by a harvest seminar with winemaker Erica Stancliff. Then, it’s grape-picking time. Afterward, relax and enjoy a cookout with the crew. As any winery intern can tell you, harvest brings about a special kind of bonding – you’re sure to meet new friends!
For special harvest activities in Sonoma County, check out this article.
Turn the Trip into a Mini-Getaway
When the winery event is over, you may not want to just turn around and go home – nor should you. Linger a while, relax, and soak up the spirit of the special place that is Sonoma County. The following vineyards offer accommodations to members (and, in some instances, to the general public):
Looking for more options? Find them here.
A wine-club pickup can also be the perfect excuse to indulge in Sonoma County’s luxe accommodations. The following hotels and inns will take extra-good care of you:
The Madrona: With a century and a half of history that’s been revamped with stunning architectural design, The Madrona is a jewel of Wine Country. Spread out over 8 acres with plenty of views, the inn offers thoughtful amenities. Don’t miss a meal at its spectacular all-day restaurant.
Olea Hotel: Set amid the mountains, this friendly and well-appointed inn is tucked above the quaint village of Glen Ellen – convenient to plenty of wineries and restaurants, yet away from it all. Here you’ll also receive complimentary gourmet breakfast, wine tastings from local vintners, a beautiful pool and hot tub, onsite massage, and more.
Farmhouse Inn: Nestled into 10 acres in West Sonoma County, this luxury haven offers fresh-cut flowers, feather beds with European linens, oversized fireplaces, and organic bath products. After a day of exploring, sip complimentary drinks from the non-alcoholic mini-bar, savor a wine tasting on the hotel grounds, or dig into a meal at the onsite restaurant Farmstand, where ingredients are sourced either on the property or from local farmers.
Written by Amy Bess Cook