Eighth Street Wineries: The New Face of Wine in Sonoma?

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Eighth Street Wineries: The New Face of Wine in Sonoma?

There is a something afoot in Sonoma County … a new and different collective of wine producers whose very existence may well be changing the landscape of wineries in Northern California.

I am, of course, referring to the Eighth Street Wineries, an association of wineries in the town of Sonoma, that is rapidly growing in notoriety.

I first experienced the Eighth Street Wineries during a recent open house held by the association a scant couple of months back. Prior to that time — if I am to be completely honest — I had been blissfully unaware of the association's existence.

Even more to the point, the only wine tasting I had any real experience with in Sonoma occurred along or just off the Sonoma Highway or right in the heart of town in many of the charming tasting rooms that peel off from the landmark Sonoma Plaza.

With that in mind, the Eight Street Wineries were as much a surprise to me as they were apparently to the GPS in my rental car, which went completely wonky in the vicinity of the cluster of winemakers.

Tucked away in a hidden warehouse district, just a short five-minute drive from Sonoma Plaza, sits Eighth Street Wineries. This association of artisan winemakers has eschewed the grandeur of the traditional wine estate along with the flourishes of pomp, and occasional splashiness, of the town's well-established tasting rooms in favor of a more stripped down approach in which the wine (and only the wine) is the real star of the show.

This is so much so the case in fact that if you were to drive through the area that houses the wineries you'd be inclined to dismiss it as just another industrial park because that is precisely what it was meant to be.

That is until the developer of the property and a few savvy and eager winemakers formed an alliance that transformed the industrial park into a full-throttle association of passionate but small wine producers with names like Three Sticks, Enkidu, Patz & Hall, and Ty Caton.

The majority of the wineries that make up Eighth Street Wineries are not regularly open for tastings by appointment or otherwise (with notable exceptions like Tin Barn and Ty Caton). However, events like the open house I attended are the perfect, if rare, opportunity to meet the winemakers behind the bold association in an intimate setting and also sample some small productions wines that have got the industry buzzing.

Not to mention the fact, that it's always so much more fun to be in the know than not, n'est ce pas?

Head over to eighthstreetwineries.com and join the mailing list to stay up to date about what's happening with Eighth Street Wineries and to get updates about upcoming events.

Find more info about wineries, restaurants, and hotels in Sonoma County.

Duane Wells