Sonoma County is known for small, family-owned wineries with three, distinct wine regions: Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and The Russian River Valley. The Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is one of America’s premier grape growing areas. Due to the AVA’s large size, numerous microclimates exist within its boundaries and allow for the production of both warm and cool climate grapes. Because there are over 300 wineries in the area, we have curated a small list below of what we like right now.
Moshin Vineyards on Westside Road is one of our all-time favorites. Over 10 years ago we fell in love with their small-lot, premium wines, and gravity-flow process. Laid-back and friendly, this is a great place to learn about wines. They have Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot, traditional-method sparkling wine, and a crowd-pleasing, award-winning Rosé of Pinot Noir. Book online for one of their affordable, intimate, enhanced experiences that include private tastings, small-bites and cellar tours.
Trombetta Family Wines is located in nearby Forestville off of Mirabel Rd. This appointment only property is like stepping into a family garden in Italy where you are welcomed with delicious wine, food and conversation. Relaxing vibes, accessible wine education, and impeccable food pairings with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties makes this mother-daughter run winery a real standout.
Landmark Vineyards, Hop Kiln Estate on Westside Road captures the rich history of wine growing in the region. The iconic location has been growing wine grapes on the property since the late 1800s. They use a preserved historical landmark, an old stone hop kiln building, as its Tasting Room. Enjoy tastings of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays set inside the original 1905 kilns. They are a registered California Historical Landmark and recognized as “the most significant surviving example of a stone hop kiln in the North Coast Region.”
Thomas George Estates. Sometimes you want the glamor of a large estate with wine caves, wine safaris and bocce ball – but with none of the pretense. The 8,000 square-foot underground caves at Thomas George Estates were excavated in 2010, creating an elaborate, lavish space of rough rock hung with glamorous chandeliers. Beginning at the spacious foyer set with antique wood tasting bars, the caverns stretch out like a labyrinth. The snaking hallways start with a private tasting lounge and wine library, then leads to a long communal table for sit-down dinners.
Organic and Biodynamic Wineries
Sonoma County wineries are among the leaders in the organic and Biodynamic wine movements. Simply put, the movements are about systematic, forward-looking returns to the ‘roots’ of agriculture. The distinction between organic, biodynamic and natural is sometimes murky. The terms often describe overlapping, but not interchangeable qualities. We suggest starting your journey into organic and biodynamic wines by visiting one of recommendations below.
Horse and Plow: Handcrafted Wine & Cider from North Coast Vineyards and Orchards, H&P makes a wide variety of white, red & rosé wines. Uniquely, all of their grapes are organically grown. They utilize small lot fermentations and traditional techniques to make balanced and site specific libations from the North Coast. Tastings are offered at their estate barn in Sebastopol amongst the gardens, orchard, oak trees, and picnic space. Outdoor seating is spacious and they take online reservations.
Porter-Bass Biodynamic Vineyard and Winery: Nine miles from the ocean, in a saddle between two ridge tops sits Porter-Bass Vineyard & Winery. The Russian River gently forms an oxbow around these ridges allowing the fog to drift to the foot of the vineyard, cooling the vines in the summer. The forest of Redwood and Fir that surrounds the vineyard protects the vines from strong winds and contamination from other vineyards. Being on the western edge of the Russian River Valley provides an ideal climate for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. This cool climate makes fruit that is naturally high in acid, at the same time the sugars stay low enough to make a balanced wine that ages gracefully.
Deloach Vineyards: When this Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Zinfandel great was purchased by the scion of a big French wine company, the focus of the operation became less ‘mainstream,’ not more. Deloach celebrates its organic and Biodynamic certified status and encourages visitors to learn more in its garden experience and tasting flights. They maintain and encourage biodiversity on the estate with chickens, a thriving bee hive, and a diverse vegetable and herb garden that includes the medicinal plants they use in the compost preparations. In the holistic spirit of biodynamics, they also cultivate a sense of community with their neighbors, growers, and natural surroundings.