We grow and make wine, so we tend to like the smaller, boutique wineries where you might run into the owner or winemaker. Here are some of our favorites.
Mayo Family Reserve Tasting Room: One of our absolute favorites. The Wall Street Journal says, "THE SINGLE BEST DEAL IN WINE COUNTRY...WHAT AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE." They're not kidding: seven incredible gourmet courses of food (each just a couple of bites, but fabulous!) paired with seven of their great wines for just $30 ($25, if you buy wine). The best part? They're only two-and-a-half blocks away at 9200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. Phone: 707-833-5504. Open Daily, 10:30 am to 6:30pm. We suggest you call to make a reservation for the food pairing, as this is their smaller tasting room. Their main winery is just down the road at the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Arnold Drive.
MacLeod Family Vineyard: This beautiful property is owned by the nicest family, and they will welcome you with open arms. You'll need an appointment to visit, and then you'll be guided by one of the MacLeods on a vineyard tour. If you wish, you'll be invited to prune, tuck, measure sugar levels or whatever activity they're currently doing in the vineyard, before sitting down to a picnic table under a spreading oak tree high in the vineyard overlooking the beautiful Valley of the Moon. Bottles of wine will be opened to enjoy with artisan bread, cheese, fruit or chocolate, and it's quite a memorable visit. Make an appointment by calling (707) 833 4312.
Muscardini Cellars Tasting Room: Possibly the friendliest tasting room in any wine country, anywhere, and they're right at the end of our street! There are lots of well-priced wines on the list, with many varietals to try. On Friday nights and weekends, they often have live music, barrel tastings, or oysters and bubbly. Check their events page for a list of fun things happening.
En Garde Winery: This tiny tasting room, just three blocks north of us, pours amazing wines (Robert Parker rates 95+ points!). This is where to go for cellar-worthy wines. Don't miss it if you're looking for a wine to impress.
B. Wise Vineyards: Another small tasting room (right next door to En Garde), with huge wines! This is a stop for a wine afficionado. Their highly-rated wines are amazing.
St. Anne's Crossing: Our region is known for growing great Zinfandel, and here's a spot where you can find many! On a nice day, you can't beat sitting in their beautiful garden behind the tasting room. They're just a minute or so by car to the north.
Loxton: Chris Loxton, the friendly owner/winemaker is often behind the bar pouring his delicious wines. Chris is an Aussie, so we knew he'd have some great Syrahs/Shiraz, but he also makes a strong lineup of wines including Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and some late harvest varietals. We recently purchased his Syrah Port to serve with dessert for a dinner party (a molten chocolate cake) and everyone was swooning. Pure decadence! Take Hwy. 12 South about 3 miles, and turn right onto Dunbar Road. They are the first driveway on the right (11466 Dunbar Rd.)
Petroni Vineyards: This is a gorgeous estate that is open by private appointment only, and at last check, the tasting was $20 per person, but well worth the visit! They've been making wine for many years, but until recently, were only selling it through their restaurant, The North Beach Restaurant, in San Francisco. This is excellent wine, and they provide a gorgeous spot to taste it (fancy brand-new caves), overlooking the valley and all of the olive trees they've imported from Italy. They're about 10 minutes South at 990 Cavedale Road, Sonoma, CA 95476. Their road is winding and narrow up the mountain, so this should be your first stop of the day! 707-935-8311
Paradise Ridge Winery: We always end up meeting fun people here. They're open a little later than most wineries (6pm), they have barstools at the bar and tables outside, and their staff is lots of fun! The "Happy Hour Vibe" at Paradise is perfect when you want to pick up a couple of bottles before dinner, especially if you're walking over to Doce Lunas or Café Citti. Their Kenwood tasting room is located at 8860 Sonoma Highway. Phone: (707) 282-9020 Tasting Room Hours: 11am to 6pm Daily.
VJB Cellars: This is the "Italian Villa" in the neighborhood, just two blocks north. Their wines are nice, but their beautiful piazza is where you'll want to enjoy wood-fired pizzas made to order, salads, salumi, and panini. On warm weekends, don't miss the tuxedoed tenors who stroll the piazza and get the crowd singing! They are there around 1:30 on warm weekends, and are lots of fun!