So I have some tough choices to make. I have a high school friend coming to visit this weekend. She’s in need of some R&R and her husband’s packing her off to Wine Country for the weekend. Now, they’ve been here before. They spent some time exploring Napa, and had a great time, but they’ve never been to Sonoma County, which is, ahem, real Wine Country. Yes. She’s expressed a desire for some more Napa wine, but also is excited to check out Sonoma County. As her tour guide, I’m happy to oblige. I mean, what are friends for?
We actually live on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa – the largest city in Wine Country at 150,000. Given where we live, we’re actually closer to Napa (which usually means the Napa Valley, and not just the town of Napa) than to some of the Dry Creek Valley wineries or those around Cloverdale, even though those are Sonoma County like we are. So, it’s not a distance issue. But the gap between many Napa wineries and many (but not all) of those in Sonoma isn’t a geographical one. Napa is far better known. People who really aren’t wine aficionados have heard of Napa and that’s where they head. While we have our fair share of wine tasting limo tours and buses here in Sonoma County, there are still plenty of small, family run wineries where you can still taste the wine right next to the barrels its stored in. Napa wineries tend to be flashier. And pricier. So much so that I’ve actually written before about how wine tasting in Napa Valley made us homesick for Sonoma County.So, which wineries will we be visiting on our tour of the best of Sonoma County wine? Well, I’m having a hard time trimming down the list to something that approaches do-able. Or reasonable. Such that she’s relaxed and yet still able to remember her visit to Wine Country… So far, these are the wineries I’m considering:
We will start our tour with a quick stop in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley to check out Lynmar Estate Winery’s beautiful views and gardens and sample their excellent wines. Just up the road, our second Russian River Valley stop will be at the lovely Martin Ray Winery, home to some great red wine and surprisingly for us, some rose we love. Next up, I’m thinking we’ll toast Wine Country with some champagne at Korbel Champagne Cellars before heading north to Dry Creek Valley and Armida Winery. The lovely deck there offers stunning views and shady tables from which to enjoy their awesome Zinfandel while you munch on a picnic lunch. Everett Ridge Winery is right around the corner and offers stunning views from its stone patio to complement their lovely Riesling – an uncommon wine in Northern California. Heading further north, I’m not sure just how many more wineries we can manage in one day. But then, it’s been a while since I’ve been wine tasting without kids along! On the list of contenders are the Dry Creek Valley’s intimate Mounts Family Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, home to a ton of movie memorabilia, Sbragia Family Vineyards with its stunning views, and Fritz Winery – home to some of the most amazing Late Harvest Zinfandel we’ve ever had.On second thought, I might just need to talk my girlfriend’s husband into letting her stay a week…
I’ve been through Wine Country and it’s beautiful! My wife grew up in Napa. Safe travels to you!