Wine-Tasting Myth Busting: You Can Hit 10 to 12 Wineries in a Day
Planning to make the most of your Sonoma County trip by wine tasting at a dozen wineries each day? We understand that desire: After all, Sonoma County is home to 425 wineries spread among 19 different wine areas. But we'd like to suggest that you slow down and focus on fewer wineries in order to get more enjoyment from your trip!
You may not be aware that Sonoma County is really big, spanning 1,545 square miles. It's an hour's drive south-north on Highway 101 from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and almost 90 minutes east-west along Highway 116 between the towns of Sonoma and Jenner. In-between are miles and miles of winding backroads dotted with wineries.
To maximize your Sonoma County wine-tasting trip, we recommend that you add two or three days to your itinerary and visit only 3-4 wineries per day. By slowing down, you'll be able to focus on each winery and their wines, as well as the people and scenery you'll experience along the way. You'll also be able to travel more sustainably, conserving fuel and reducing your environmental impact.
The labeled tabs below provide some expert tips based on location.
The new Sonoma County App takes your trip planning to the next level, allowing you to create a personalized wine-tasting itinerary that you can then share with others. The app will help you identify local eateries to add to your itinerary (making sure you eat is an important, yet often overlooked, step to any wine-tasting trip) and provide step-by-step directions in real time. The point is to enjoy your wine-tasting experience and savor each moment, from planning to partaking!
Downtown Petaluma Wineries
There's a healthy handful of wineries in Petaluma's charming downtown, but if you've only got a day (or two), these four wineries are excellent choices. Each winery is within 5 minutes' drive or 10-15 minutes' walk of the other, making this a great area to stay overnight, get a ride to, or simply park once or twice.
Brooks Note Winery: Specializing in Pinot Noir from Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino counties, the lovely downtown tasting room of this small family-owned winery also offers Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Blanc, and more. Open daily 11.a.m to 6 p.m., by reservation.
Adobe Road Winery: Set downtown in the historic Petaluma Mill building, this winery tasting room owned by a car racing impresario offers a fleet's worth of county-sourced wines. Vintages include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and other reds. Open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., by reservation.
Black Knight Vineyards: This family-run winery specializes in small-lot, cool-climate estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines, as well as unique varietals like Gamay Noir and Ploussard. Open by reservation only, Thursday 3-7 p.m., Friday & Saturday 12-8 p.m., Sunday 12-6 p.m. (closed Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday).
Barber Cellars: Set just off the lobby of the Hotel Petaluma, this husband-and-wife-owned winery pours locally sourced Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Gris. Open by reservation only, Thursday to Saturday 1-7 p.m., Sunday 1-6 p.m. (closed Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday).
Petaluma Wineries Beyond Downtown
If you have two days in Petaluma, here are a couple of other area wineries to experience. Visit both in one day, or per day, visit one of these rural spots plus two of the downtown wineries listed above.
McEvoy Ranch: A 550-acre working ranch that specializes in wine (e.g., Pinot Noir, sparkling, rose, Syrah, etc.), olive oil, skincare, and culinary treats. Open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation.
Downtown to McEvoy Ranch (via D Street): 13 minutes
Keller Estate Winery: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on a bucolic sheep farm, along the same access road for Tolay Lake Regional Park. Open only Friday and Saturday, by reservation. Book a tour and tasting for 11 a.m., or a seated estate tasting throughout the day.
Downtown to Keller Estate (via Lakeville Hwy.): 17 minutes
Downtown Petaluma Eateries
- Breakfast or Lunch: Della Fattoria
- Lunch: Wild Goat Bistro
- Afternoon Snack: Ayawaska Restobar
- Dinner: Table Culture Provisions, Central Market
More on Petaluma
Sonoma Plaza Wineries
Sonoma Plaza is at the heart of downtown Sonoma, at the far southeast of Sonoma County. The following winery tasting rooms are only a few of those found around the Plaza, but they're our suggestions for at least two days' worth of wine tasting. All are within a few minutes' walk of the others, making Sonoma Plaza a great place to get a ride to or simply park for the day.
Sosie Wines: Sosie is French for “twin” or “spitting image,” illustrating this winery's affinity for French-style winemaking. To make its red, white, and sparkling wines, Sosie sources its grapes from cool-climate sites across Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Open daily by reservation, Monday to Thursday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Westwood Estate Wines: Instead of a walk-up bar, expect an informative, guided tasting with table or sofa seating at this out-of-the-way little salon. Estate wines from the biodynamic-farmed Annadel Gap vineyard include Syrah, Pinot Noir, and rare Counoise. Open by reservation only, Thursday to Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday).
Pangloss Cellars: Set in a renovated 1902 building, this spacious, high-style wine lounge includes private tasting rooms, a wine bar, and a variety of seating, all inspired by Voltaire's Candide. Pours include their mountain-grown Sonoma Valley Cabernets and Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs. Open daily by reservation only, with 90-minute tastings at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Kamen Estate Wines: Headed further down East Napa Street, you'll find the winery from screenwriter Robert Kamen who penned hits like "The Karate Kid" and the Wine Country-themed "A Walk in the Clouds." Taste through mountain-grown Cabernets and check out the fun, film-themed T-shirts for sale. Open daily by reservation, Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday 12-6 p.m.
Enoteca Della Santina: Based on the Italian concept of an enoteca as a place to sample, drink, and buy wine from local producers, this wine bar and shop dedicates its 250+ "wine wall" to showcasing hard-to-find gems from both Sonoma winemakers and the world at large. Wines are offered by the flight, glass, or bottle, and you can order Tuscan soul food from the Della Santina's restaurant located right next door. Open daily: Monday to Thursday & Sunday 4-10 p.m., Friday 4-11 p.m., Saturday 2-11 p.m.
Walt Sonoma Plaza: On the north side of the plaza, the cozy brick and half-timbered cottage serves to showcase Pinot Noir from around the West Coast. Contemplate a glass of Gap's Crown Pinot Noir under the redwoods out back or in the front yard. Open daily by reservation, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Three Sticks Wines: Off the northwest corner of the Plaza, fans of design, history and wine will find plenty to interest them in the meticulously restored Vallejo-Casteñada adobe, originally built of mud-and-straw bricks, circa 1842. Here you can revel in mid-19th-century furniture and architectural details, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and a Rhône-style blend from the famed Durell Vineyard. Open by reservation only, Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sundays).
Sojourn Cellars: The winery's logo is an outdoor lounge chair, and you can't help but relax with a glass of winemaker Erich Bradley's sumptuous Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Open daily by reservation, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sonoma Plaza Eateries
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a handful of places we love that are right on the Plaza, amidst your wine-tasting adventures.
- Breakfast/Lunch: Basque Boulangerie, Sunflower Caffe
- Afternoon Snack: Tasca Tasca Portuguese Tapas, OSO
- Dinner: La Salette Restaurant, the girl & the fig
More on the Sonoma Plaza Area
Santa Rosa Wineries
Santa Rosa is a huge city that sprawls over both sides of Highway 101 — but for a short trip (or your first trip) to the area, we recommend exploring west of the freeway, around River Road and Olivet Lane.
RIVER ROAD AREA
Have one day for wine-tasting in Santa Rosa? Take River Road west of Highway 101, and you'll find the following four excellent spots roughly five minutes' drive from each other.
Martinelli Winery & Vineyards: Family-owned since the 1880s, this winery is set in a former hop barn, and features a vintage wine press. Specializing in estate-grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. Open daily, 1o a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations suggested.
Gamba Vineyards & Winery: This family-owned winery specializes in old-vine Zinfandel from an estate vineyard first planted in 1900. Open Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation only.
La Crema Estate at Saralee's Vineyard: Set in a beautifully renovated barn from the early 1900s, La Crema focuses on cool-climate, appellation-specific, and single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from great coastal sites in Northern California and Oregon. Open daily, 1o a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only.
Joseph Swan Vineyards: Friendly and unassuming, this small, family-owned winery specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and old-vine Zinfandel, but also produces small lots of Rhone-style varietals, as well as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Open Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by reservation only.
OLIVET LANE AREA
Have a second day for Santa Rosa tasting? Take Piner Road west of Highway 101 to Olivet Lane, and you'll find several fabulous wineries clustered within one to five minutes' drive from each other, including the following four favorites.
Hook and Ladder Winery: Named (and styled) in homage to founder Cecil DeLoach’s 17-year career as a San Francisco firefighter, this family-owned winery specializes in estate-grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and old-vine Zinfandel. Open daily, Monday to Thursday, Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., all by reservation only.
DeLoach Vineyards: Originally owned by the DeLoach family (now owners of Hook & Ladder), this stunning winery is now owned by the Boisset Collection and features a biodynamic sensory garden and friendly livestock. Specialities are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel, but be sure to inquire about their hard cider. Open daily, 1o a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only.
Benovia Winery: Set off the beaten path down a country lane, this beautiful winery specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel from sites in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain. Still, their expressions of Grenache shouldn't be missed. Open daily, 1o a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation only.
Pellegrini-Olivet Lane Winery: This family-owned winery specializes in Martini-clone Pinot Noir, Wente-clone Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and rose sourced from some of the best sites in Sonoma County. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation only.
Santa Rosa Eateries
The above wineries are all in a semi-sprawling, rural stretch of Santa Rosa, and while these eateries aren't exactly adjacent, they're all within about 10 minutes' drive of each winery.
- Breakfast: Piner Cafe, Big River Coffee Company
- Lunch: Las Molcajetes, Franchetti's
- Dinner: Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro, John Ash & Co.
More on Santa Rosa
Sebastopol & Graton Wineries
Within a roughly two-mile-square swath of eastern Sebastopol that includes the hamlet of Graton, you'll find several can't-miss wineries just a few minutes' drive from each other. (Dutton-Goldfield and Red Car are even next-door neighbors, and share a parking lot.) These eight Sebastopol/Graton wineries represent at least two days' worth of wine tasting.
Red Car Wine: Within a funky and stylish tasting room that features neon art, a great playlist, and a selection of handcrafted jewelry, this popular spot focuses on Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only.
Dutton-Goldfield Winery: This partnership between local grapegrower Steve Dutton (of Dutton Estate Winery) and winemaker Dan Goldfield specializes in beautiful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also produces small lots of Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by reservation only.
Bowman Cellars: Owned and run by a husband-and-wife team who grew up in Graton, this Insta-worthy spot (which features a vintage Airstream trailer) specializes in Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sierra Foothills Estate Zinfandel. Open Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday), by reservation only.
Paul Hobbs Winery: Paul Hobbs is an internationally famous winemaker and viticulturist who specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from sites throughout Sonoma County, as well as Napa Valley-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Open Monday to Friday, 10-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. (closed Saturday & Sunday), by reservation only.
Dutton Estate Winery: Owned for five generations by the Dutton family, this cozy winery specializes in estate-grown Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay, but also makes hard cider from their Gravenstein and Golden Delicious apples. Open daily, 12-4 p.m., by reservation only.
Merry Edwards Winery: Founded by (and named for) one of Sonoma County's most famous female winemakers, this legendary spot was acquired by Champagne house Louis Roederer in 2019. It continues to produce highly prized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation only.
Lynmar Estate Winery: Owned by a husband-and-wife team, this idyllic spot borders the western edge of the Laguna de Santa Rosa wildlife refuge, and offers estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Open Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday & Wednesday), by reservation only.
Emeritus Vineyards: Styled like an airplane hangar with a graceful outdoor terrace, this cutting-edge tasting room is surrounded by the stunning, 115-acre Hallberg Ranch, one of two dry-farmed estate vineyards where Emeritus grows its renowned Pinot Noir. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation only.
Sebastopol & Graton Eateries
- Breakfast: Roasters Espresso Bar (Sebastopol location)
- Lunch: Willow Wood Market & Cafe
- Snacks: Andy's Produce Market
- Dinner: Underwood Bar & Bistro
More on Sebastopol & Graton
The northern Sonoma County city of Healdsburg encompasses less than five square miles, but is home to roughly 88 wineries spread among three major wine valleys — Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek. Found in three distinct Healdsburg areas (yet excluding Dry Creek Road, Old Redwood Highway, and Highway 128), the 12 wineries below are suggestions for at least three days' worth of wine tasting.
These wineries are all within a couple blocks' walk of each other, just off the central Healdsburg Plaza. Stay in town, park once, hop on a bike, or catch a ride for a care-free day of tasting.
Siduri: Love Pinot Noir and cool interior design? With a tasting room styled like a dream apartment, this winery specializes in cool-climate Pinot from five major AVAs on the West Coast, spanning from Oregon's Willamette Valley to California’s Santa Barbara County. Open Thursday to Monday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by reservation only (closed Tuesday & Wednesday).
Idlewild Wines: Owner/winemaker and Sonoma County native Sam Bilbro specializes in Piemontese varietals like Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Arneis, as well as his popular Flora & Fauna blends. Salumi and cheese platters are prepared in-house, so consider adding one to your tasting for an afternoon snack. Open Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only (closed Monday & Tuesday).
Lioco Wine Co.: Owned by a husband-and-wife team, this hip, stylish tasting room is just steps from the Plaza, pouring Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Carignan, and Syrah sourced from vineyards in Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Open daily, 12 to 7 p.m., reservations suggested.
Cartograph: Owned by husband-and-wife winemakers Serena Lourie and Alan Baker, this gorgeous little tasting room pours site-specific Pinot Noirs that range from fruit-focused to lean and earthy. Consider a bottle of their zero dosage sparkling wine, too. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only (closed Sunday and Monday).
OLD ROMA STATION AREA
A roughly quarter-mile walk from Healdsburg Plaza, this former bakery complex houses several small wineries, including Leo Steen, Rootdown, and Pezzi King. David Family is set directly across the street, beside the Russian River.
Leo Steen Wines: Sommelier-turned-winemaker Leo Hansen is best known locally for his delicious Chenin Blanc (as you'll see on his "Drink Chenin" T-shirts), but don't miss his Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, or Grenache, either. Open Friday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday to Thursday). Reservations recommended.
Rootdown Wine Cellars: This winery brand is small but mighty, offering three different labels by one winemaker, Mike Lucia. Tastings here include pours from all three: Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc from Rootdown; blends and rose from Es Okay; and Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling from Cole Ranch. Open Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Monday to Thursday). Reservations recommended.
Pezzi King Vineyards: Owned by Ken and Diane Wilson (of Wilson Winery fame), this winery is best known for its Sonoma County-farmed reserve Zinfandels, but you'll also find reds like Mourvedre and Petite Sirah, as well as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and rose. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, by reservation only.
Davis Family Vineyards: As the name suggests, this winery is family-owned, and set in a farm-style compound that features an organic veggie garden. The house specialty is Pinot Noir, but additional standouts include their Cuvee Luke white blend, Sage red blend, and house-made olive oil. Open Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday & Wednesday), by reservation only.
Known as "the Rodeo Drive of Pinot Noir," the northern end of this winding thoroughfare begins at Healdsburg's Main Street traffic circle. The following four wineries are between two and six minutes' drive of each other, and are most easily explored by car, either with or without a hired driver.
Smith Story Wine Cellars: Owned and run by husband-and-wife team Ali Smith and Eric Story (and represented by their 80-pound goldendoodle, Lord Sandwich), this gem is set in the Bacchus Landing Cellars complex. Pours may include Mendocino County-farmed Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon, and a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12-4 p.m. (closed Monday & Tuesday). Walk-ins welcome, reservations preferred.
DaVero Farms & Winery: A hop/skip across the road from Bacchus Landing, this biodynamic-farmed idyll features Italian wine varietals, a lush flower and veggie garden, a coop's worth of chickens, and its own house-made olive oil. Don't miss the Sagrantino, a rare red wine. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, by reservation only.
Armida Winery: Family-owned and run, this gorgeous winery is set atop a hill and features a geodesic dome, pond terrace, and bocce court. The wine, which includes Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay, is farmed from some of the most highly prized sites in Sonoma County. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, by reservation only.
Twomey Cellars: This sister winery of Silver Oak (which has its own Healdsburg digs on Highway 128) has a stunning hilltop tasting terrace, overlooking vineyards and mountains. Enjoy Pinot Noir sourced from Sonoma County as well as the Anderson and Willamette valleys, and don't miss the stellar Sauvignon Blanc and rose. Open daily: Monday to Saturday, 1o a.m. to 5 p.m, Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., by reservation only.
- Breakfast: The Parish Cafe, Quail & Condor
- Lunch: Bravas Bar de Tapas, Little Saint, Barndiva, Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar
- Dinner: Valette, Guiso Latin Fusion, Bravas Bar de Tapas, The Matheson