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 Jose de los Santos Berryessa, Mallocomes Valley was renamed for Thomas B. Knight, a New England immigrant said to have participated in the Bear Flag Revolt.
In the late 19th century, real estate speculator F. E. Kellogg founded and eponymously named the small town of Kellogg here, complete with post office and general store And prior to Prohibition, wine grapes were the major business.
But Kellogg burned down in the 1960s, and when wineries eventually returned to the valley in the ’70s and ’80s, they brought with them no tasting rooms, hotels, or commercial development of any kind.
However, today there are a whopping 2,000 vineyard-planted acres in Knights Valley, which earned AVA (American Viticultural Area) status in 1983.
Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals reign in this warm, high valley, but you’ll also find 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; the road eventually 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 valley floor, but cattle operations are also important. Ancient, volcanic Mount Saint Helena, which stretches into Sonoma, Napa, and Lake counties, towers over Knights Valley.
There are only two Knights Valley wineries with tasting rooms set in the Knights Valley itself: Peter Michael Winery (founded in 1987) and Knights Bridge (founded in 2006). Peter Michael has long been revered for its vintages of Au Paradis Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, while in 2021, Knights Bridge opened a new state-of-the-art facility featuring a grand barrel cave, custom concrete tanks, and a tasting salon with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Ehret Family Winery‘s tasting room is set in Healdsburg, but its 1,800-acre Bavarian Lion Vineyard, which has 10 different grape varieties on its 500 planted acres, is the largest estate in the Knight’s Valley.
Some of Arrowood Vineyards & Winery‘s finest red grapes are grown in Knight’s Valley, but its tasting room is roughly 30 miles away in the Sonoma Valley town of Glen Ellen.
Named after the black volcanic glass found in the Knights Valley bedrock beneath its vines, Donelan Family Wines‘ Obsidian estate vineyard produces some of the most intense Syrah in California. To enjoy it for yourself, make an appointment at their Santa Rosa tasting room.
Restaurants and Lodging near Knights Valley
Part of the beauty of Knights Valley is that there are no restaurants or lodging here.
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
West Sonoma Coast
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