Many wineries, since COVID, have shifted to a reservations-only format. Wine County is busy again, and it is strongly encouraged that you plan your tastings a few days in advance.
As wine growers ourselves, we tend to prefer more intimate, 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. 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 (they're on Open Table, too, for reservations), as this is their smaller tasting room. Their main winery is just down the road at the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Arnold Drive.
Muscardini Cellars Tasting Room: Possibly the friendliest tasting room 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.
Ty Caton Vineyards Tasting Room. So many varietals and blends, so little time! This is a casual tasting room with nice wines at reasonable prices. Ask for our friend, George (you'll know him by his charming Irish accent). He will treat you right! They are located in the Kenwood Market complex, 4 blocks north.
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 aficionado. Their highly-rated wines are amazing.
Repris: Gorgeous mountainside vineyard, gorgeous wines, amazing hospitality. Ask for Paul (our friend and hospitality manager). You may get an ATV ride up to the top of the mountain where you can see for miles. To request a reservation, contact them at 707.931.7701 or email@example.com
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.)
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!
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards: We love their elegant 5-course food & wine pairing. It's really top notch, and they pour their higher-end varietals that you typically don't see in stores. Highly recommended!
Hamilton Family Wines: This is the newest addition to our neighborhood, and we're so glad! Owned by the nicest couple, Greg & Lindsay, they make excellent wines at reasonable price-points, and they are often there to answer any questions you may have about the wines or winemaking process. Their back patio is lovely on a nice day, but inside is cozy, too. You can often stop in for a tasting without an appointment. Go!