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Monday, June 19, 2017

Don't Like Crowds? Head to West County

Summertime weekends, Saturday afternoons especially, are busy times at many winery tasting rooms in Sonoma County. Like to avoid some of the crowds? The short answer is to get as far away from the main arteries, Highway 101 and Highway 12, as possible. One area is what the locals call West County.

You'll find this area full of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Some ideas of where to visit. None require an appointment though some have reserve wine flights or food/wine pairings that require advance notice. Most are along the Highway 116 corridor running from Sebastopol to Forestville.
Part of the massive Dutton Ranch Vineyards
image from

Dutton Estate, Sebastopol
The Duttons are a local grape farming family.

Dutton-Goldfield, Sebastopol
Also part of a local grape growing family. Dutton Ranch Vineyard consists of  over 1,000 acres of wine grapes in West County.

Ektimo, Sebastopol
Small, a bit hard to find, not open every day of the week.

Fort Ross, Jenner
If you really want to get away from the crowds

Furthermore / Graton Ridge, Sebastopol
The owners of Futhermore bought Graton Ridge a couple years ago. Both labels available.

Hartford, Forestville
Part of the Kendall Jackson family. Unique for this area in that they make several Zinfandels, also.

Merry Edwards, Sebastopol
Well-known winemaker and a popular spot. Walk-in tastings may have a wait on the weekends so consider making a reservation and get a more in-depth tasting.

Paul Mathew, Graton
A small operation and they are not open every day.

Russian River, Forestville
Open later in the day than most. Restaurant onsite.

Fort Ross Vineyard on the hilltop