A cozy warren of shops, offices, and wine tasting rooms, Vine Alley presents an inviting detour on the south side of the historic Sonoma Plaza.
Also called Sonoma Court Shops, the alleyway evokes a European feel with its fountain, pastel pink stucco walls, and tiled walkway. Look for the tasting room signs and the little Bacchus statue at 27 E. Napa St., then pass under the greenery-fringed archways and begin exploring. You can make it a round trip by following the narrow passageways that lead back to the street.
If you’ve enjoyed wandering this way before, check back in, as there is much that is new lately in this seemingly sleepy little courtyard.
Good news for white wine drinkers at our first stop: Passaggio offers not only Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Grigio, Roussanne, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc, too. Ask about Trousseau Gris, a rare grape grown in the Russian River Valley.
One of the more recent additions, stylish Fulcrum plays to the Pinot Noir set. At the bar or at café tables, explore plushly fruited Pinot from top Sonoma County vineyards like Gap’s Crown.
Jean Edwards Cellars
Founded in 2004, this limited production winery focuses mainly on Cabernet, and was named a “new cabernet producer to watch” by Wine Spectator Magazine. Also limited offerings of Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Malbec, and Chardonnay.
For five decades, the Chappellet family has been crafting world-class wines from fruit cultivated on the steep, rocky slopes of Napa Valley’s renowned Pritchard Hill. They recently acquired the Sonoma-Loeb brand, which includes a Vine Alley tasting room near the fountain. Taste cool climate Sonoma County wines, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Tucked into an alcove around the corner, intrepid visitors will find cool-climate Syrah made by a Scotsman with a love for the wines of the northern Rhone. Steve Law takes a democratic vote of his wine club members to finalize his “Drouthy Neebors,” or “thirsty neighbors,” blend.
IThis is a tasting room with a sense of place, indeed: the wines are sourced from their own Annadel Gap vineyard, situated at the north end of Sonoma Valley. Instead of a walk-up bar, expect an informative, guided tasting with table or sofa seating. Syrah, Pinot Noir, and rare Counoise.
New to Sonoma but a longtime gem in Carneros, this small family winery grows certified organic grapes. Try Carneros Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah while perusing the art gallery.
Vine Alley is just one of many options. To get an overview of the wine tasting possibilities in and around the town of Sonoma, visit our Guide to Wine Tasting in Sonoma.
Written by Sonoma Insider James Knight