Guide to Cornerstone Sonoma and Carneros Wineries

Viansa Sonoma

It’s called ‘Carneros Sonoma,’ and it’s one of the more secret wine regions of Sonoma Valley. One of the best-known destinations in the area is Cornerstone Sonoma, a center that spans an eclectic, nine-acre mix of lavish gardens, Sunset’s Gardens + Outdoor Test Kitchen, sculptures, landscape architect installations, art and home design shops, periodic live music performances, and very often, assorted dogs taking their owners for walks. The Cornerstone Sonoma arts, culinary, and market center can be found just off of Arnold Drive / Highway 121 near the Highway 116/121 curve.

The Carneros Sonoma wine region is fed by the cooling breezes and fog of San Pablo Bay, the land nurtures spectacular cool climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wines, but also an ample array of other grapes like Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cornerstone Sonoma Tasting Rooms

Meadowcroft Wines

The metal building has tables out front
Meadowcroft Wines at Cornerstone Sonoma

The corrugated metal cottage is so intimate and cozy that often there are tasting bars set up on the entry patio, too. Tom Meadowcroft specializes in Bordeaux grapes sourced from sustainable vineyards around Dry Creek, Carneros, and Alexander Valley wine regions, crafting them in a salute to European wine heritage with California creativity. Drop in and choose between two flights for the wine bar tasting, or make advance reservations for the Taste of Meadowcroft, a relaxed and intimate seated tasting of reserve wines, served with artisanal cheeses and light bites. You’ll also need reservations to enjoy a glass of Blanc de Blancs in the tasting room, tour the Pinot Noir vineyard and sample light bites, then return to the tasting room to finish your wine tasting.

Obsidian Wine Co.

Tricycle Wine Partners owns two vineyards: their heritage Poseidon Vineyard at sea level in Carneros, and Obsidian Ridge at elevation 2,640 feet in the Mayacamas Mountains. The practice for their small-lot wines is so detailed that they cooper their own barrels, and host seminars on the artistic, traditional use of Hungarian oak. The tasting room is lovely with its rustic wood trim and landscape art, but the best seats are on the patio beneath the shade trees.

Other Marvelous Carneros Sonoma Wineries 

Roche Winery & Vineyards

An aerial view of picnic tables in a plaza next to the vineyard
Roche Winery & Vineyards

Wine tasting at the Roche Winery & Vineyards “Tasting Plaza” is highlighted by features like outdoor fireplaces, cabanas, private group tasting areas, and the view of thousands of acres of vineyards planted on the western slopes of Sonoma Valley. Stay and enjoy the gourmet picnic basket on comfy wooden and leather lawn chairs by the Chardonnay vineyard, while taking in the panoramic views. Located just south of the town of Sonoma, the Roche family’s new winery subtlety sits on the valley floor within their Tipperary Vineyard, located on their estate in the Carneros AVA. 

Schug Carneros Estate Winery

Two tables with red, sun umbrellas at the entrance to the underground cave
Schug Carneros Estate Winery

Coming up the winding drive, through the vineyards bordered by rose bushes towards the German chalet-style winery, it’s hard to imagine that there are also caves tucked into the bucolic hillside. Yet the stone structures are polished and glossy and lined with gorgeous barrels. Knowledgeable guides on the private tours offer a blend of the winery’s history, insight into the Carneros region, and an overview of Schug’s ‘secret’ winemaking techniques. Start with a walk through the vineyard, cross over the crush pad, then continue into the winery and the wine caves where, what else, a glass of wine awaits.

Anaba Wines

Sample wines handcrafted from the best Rhone and Burgundian grape varieties grown on the Anaba Wines estate in its new Vintners House hospitality center. Located in the Carneros wine region in eastern Sonoma County, Anaba Wines is named for the cool, upward-flowing anabatic winds that soar and swirl through its sustainably-farmed vineyards. These unique air currents make the vineyards more temperate, slow down the ripening process, and allow the grapes to develop more robust flavors and distinctive varietal characteristics. Designed to evoke the region’s fog, wind, and earth, the Vintners House hospitality center features two seated tastings, the Classic Flight and the Estate Flight. The new facility includes fireside seating and a bocce ball court, with a paddle tennis court.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

The Spanish-style winery is surrounded by vineyards
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

The secret to these subtle stunners is preserving the distinctive fruit flavors and delicate aromas. Grapes are hand harvested in small lots, gently pressed, and handcrafted in the classic style of méthode champenoise for non-vintage Sonoma Brut, non-vintage Blanc de Noirs, vintage-dated Blanc de Blancs and a newly released Va de Vi. When the 335-acre Gloria Ferrer estate came on to the scene in 1986, in fact, sparkling wine was a new industry to the region, and this Spanish-inspired winery turned heads with its stylish setting, too. The winery’s sun-drenched Vista Terrace overlooks the estate vineyards, offering tastings paired with savory Spanish and local cheeses, meats, almonds and other delicacies.

Viansa Sonoma

Two people walk on a path next to a lookout area above the vineyards
Viansa Sonoma

The hilltop estate defines ‘majesty,’ overlooking the breathtaking beauty of Sonoma Valley and accented with its own vineyards, olive groves and wetlands. The Tuscan inspired architecture fits Sonoma’s lovely Mediterranean weather and, just as in Italy, there is plenty of great food to go with the great wine. First stop: a tasting, to discover your favorite wines. Second stop: the Marketplace, to pack a picnic of gourmet foods. The estate produces many of its own specialties, such as conserves, marinades, oils, vinegars, vinaigrettes, tapenades, glazes, honey, mustards, and pasta and pizza sauces, and many products are dashed with a delicious bit of wine. The patio is a wonderful place to lunch or snack, on the edge of the wetlands where more than 500 species of birds that have been spotted. Try the Private Outlook Tasting, in a cozy cabana overlooking the wetlands – it includes a flight of reserve wines paired with locally sourced cheeses.

Ram’s Gate Winery

The tasting barn has a rustic seating area outside
Ram’s Gate Winery

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.

Written by Sonoma County Insider Carey Sweet. 

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