Make no mistake: We love our grapes. But area winery folks also apply their green thumbs to growing a whole lot more. Whether you’re looking to learn more about organic veggie gardening, wonder at otherworldly proteas, or hike oak-studded hills, these winery gardens are our best bets for early summer. Look through below for details.
A line of towering palms marks the drive up to Sonoma’s Scribe Winery. This is classic vintage California, from the adobe hacienda (built in the 1850s, once a speakeasy) surrounded by a tapestry of wavy grasses and stately succulents, to the bountiful edible garden, run by Stephen Carter — one of the world’s premier chicory farmers. Call for updated tasting information. 2100 Denmark Street, Sonoma. 707-939-1858.
The team at Jordan Vineyard & Winery never does anything halfway, with majestic vine-covered stone buildings and the one-acre vegetable patch which yields 100 varieties of produce, including exquisite fraises des bois strawberries. New this year is a pollinator garden for bees and migrating monarch butterflies. Reserve ahead for garden tour. 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg. 707-431-5250.
A Vineyard Education
Learn as you taste at Dry Creek Valley’s Quivira Vineyards, where a sample block is dedicated to identifying all of the varietals grown on the estate and raised beds showcase organic gardening practices. Sing in the herb garden, complete with (yes!) parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, then visit the chickens, whose names are sheer poetry—Buff Japanese Black Cochins, Cuckoo Marans, Silver-Laced Wyandottes. Reserve in advance. 4900 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg. 707-431-8333.
Tucked into the Petaluma Gap just high enough to skirt the fog, McEvoy Ranch is an idyll with acres and acres of olive groves and rolling vineyards. But the property is also home to myriad unusual plants, including striking purple cerinthe and wacky Buddha’s Hand citrus. For a splurge, book a tasting in one of the new private hideaways by the pond. Reserve walking tours and hideaways in advance. 5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma. 866-617-6779.
Rustic Rural Gem
When they’re not busy making wine, the folks at Medlock Ames love nothing more than to pore over seed catalogs and tinker with new varieties. At the winery's stunning rural vineyards at Bell Mountain Ranch, beds explode with zinnias, sunflowers, and Queen Anne’s lace (a second tasting room on Alexander Valley Road has a small but lovely olive grove). Open by appointment. 13414 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg. 707-431-8845.
Hike the Sonoma Hills
History is the watchword at Bartholomew Estate Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma Valley, founded on the very land where California viticulture was born. The winery anchors 375-acre Bartholomew Park; save time to wander the trails that lace the oak- and madrone-studded hills. Picnic grounds and hiking trails open to the public; reserve ahead for tasting. 1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma. 707-509-0540.
Proteas on the Coast
In a nod to the owners’ native South Africa, a vast collection of rare proteas takes pride of place at coastal Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery. Look for the ‘Pink Mink’—pink flowers with black feathery tips—and the ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ Pincushion, a bright-red bloom with orange spikes. Reserve in advance. 15725 Meyers Grade Road, Jenner. 707-847-3460.
By: Megan Mccrea