Blend artisan vintages with an urban-village setting and you've got the Wineyard at Santa Rosa Vintners Square (1301-1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-280-4658).
This artsy, landscaped strip mall in downtown Santa Rosa may be surrounded by concrete, but its boutique winery tasting rooms offer a delightful variety from urban chic to old-world charm. And for pet lovers, they're all dog-friendly.
D'Argenzio Winery (1301 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466) produces about 3,000 cases a year, including limited productions of Italian varietals like Sagarantino, Agliancio, Tocal Friulano, Montepulciano, Barbera, Moscato, and Sangiovese, plus many Sonoma County staples like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
This boutique Italian family winery combines modern technologies with Old World methods — gently pressing the grapes, aging the wine an average of 22 months, and using only the finest French, American, and Italian oak barrels. The grapes are all sourced from selected Sonoma County vineyards.
The tasting room also offers antipasti platters and other goodies, and there is a bocce ball court on the back patio. Thursday evenings are a great time to visit, when this quiet little corner lights up with live music, food, wine, and crowds for "wine down" parties.
The tasting room is closed Monday and Tuesday (but open by appointment on those days); 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.)
Topping & Legnon Winery and Tasting Room (1301 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-755-7400) produces about 3,000 cases a year, with nine varietals to choose from. Owned by Dana Topping and Rick Legnon, friends for over 30 years, this boutique winery combines the modern skills of Sandro Tamburin, director of winemaking, with Old World practices, gently pressing the grapes, aging the wine up to 20 months, and using only the finest French and American oak barrels.
The tasting room is large and comfortable. Relax in cozy chairs and couches and sip a glass of wine while watching one of five monitors showing how they make their wine and videos of their vineyards.
Their varietals include a Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, single vineyard Malbec, Syrah, and limited productions of Petit Verdot and Carménère (originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France). All these varietals are sourced from the winery’s estate vineyards above Calistoga in the Saint Helena mountains. Also included are many of Sonoma County favorites like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The tasting room is open 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and closed Monday-Wednesday (but open by appointment on those days). The tasting room will hold up to 100 visitors.
After visiting the square's tasting rooms, look around a bit. Santa Rosa Vintners Square is the brain child of D'Argenzio Winery founder Ray D'Argenzio, who envisioned providing the culinary conversant of the community with all their wine and food needs in one central area – which means there's lot to see and savor.
The Fogbelt Brewery taproom (130-5 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-978-3400) offers a handful of flagship release beers, along with a variety of seasonal and rotating experimental brews. Cibo Rustico Pizzeria (1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-623-9906) offers fine Italian and Sonoma County wines, local and imported beer, and Italian-style, thin-crust pizza made with authentic imported ingredients. And as the only cold-pressed juicery in Santa Rosa, Juice on the Square (1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-800-7953) offers fresh, raw, all natural, organic, cold-pressed juice, as well as elixirs, wheatgrass shots, fresh juice to order, organic coffee, tea, and free wi-fi.
Also in the square, The Barbery (1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-479-5872) specializes in "the art of" men's haircutting, beards, mustaches, and spa treatment, offering men a chance to relax and enjoy a unique grooming experience. Founded in 1974, Squire Cigars (1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-573-8544) shares owners Barney and Linda Squires' extensive industry knowledge and general love of the art of cigar making and the enjoyment it provides.
As you explore Vintners Square, you may wonder: am I really in downtown Santa Rosa?
Lucky you, indeed you are.