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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First trip to Sonoma County? Winery suggestions

The most popular question from visitors is, "What wineries should I visit?" That's a good question and there's no one answer to fit everyone. Let's assume this is your first trip to the area and you're somewhat new to wine country travel.

One of the biggest reasons for the choices here is there will be something else to do besides just taste wine. It's nice to have something of interest besides the wine when you are first learning the area. The following suggested wineries are all open daily with no appointment required.

Historic Buena Vista Winery
Benziger
A nice property with information on biodynamic farming. They also offer tram tours of their vineyards.

Buena Vista
Lots of history here dating back to the very beginning of premium wine in California.

Dry Creek
One of the original wineries of the California wine renaissance, founded in 1972.

Ferrari-Carano
Beautiful property and buildings.

Francis Ford Coppola
Movie memorabilia, a full bar, restaurant and a swimming pool!

Gloria Ferrer
A good place to learn about California sparkling wines.

Korbel
Free tours and tasting. Lots of history here. You'll learn about it on the tour. A good deli.

Coppola's pool

These wineries are located all over Sonoma County so don't try to visit all in one day! These are also pretty big operations. If you're looking for the smaller, ma and pa kinds of places they are everywhere. You've probably never heard of the vast majority of Sonoma County's wineries. This is where you will need a better idea of what you're looking for in your winery experience before anyone can make good suggestions of where you should go. So before asking think about what you want: Somewhere to picnic, Pinot Noir under $40, Chardonnays I can't find at home, tasting with a view of the vineyards, a tour, etc.

Let's say this is not your first foray into wine tasting or you're just looking for something a bit more out-of-the-way then this is what I'd call "suggestions for your second trip:"
      Inman, Iron Horse, Matanzas Creek, Merry Edwards, Quivira, Ridge
 
I'm not saying any of these are the best wineries in the county (however you define "best")--just saying they are good places to start to see what Sonoma County offers. There are over a hundred wineries open every day waiting for you to stop in so there's no right answer to the question, "Where should I go?" only suggestions.