The Best Places to Taste Wine in Sonoma County

Anytime is a good time to visit Sonoma’s wine country for touring and tasting, but, with the coming of winter, the crowds are thinner and the roads less traveled, making this the ideal season to visit — especially if you can snuggle up to a fireplace with some great wine on a cold night! And keep in mind that every part of the county — from Sonoma Valley up to Healdsburg and out to Forestville and Graton — has world-class restaurants.

With about 450 wineries, most of which have tasting rooms, it’s not hard to find someplace interesting to go. The opportunities are so varied, you may not want to leave. Here are the best places to go wine tasting in Sonoma County:

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton
There’s so much to do at KJWEG, from wine and food pairings to touring the extensive gardens, that you could easily spend half a day.

La Crema, 235 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
Taste winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas’s Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Pinot Gris, some of them tasting room exclusives, in the newly-remodeled space just a block from the fabled Town Square.

Murphy-Goode, 20 Matheson St., Healdsburg
Just around the corner from La Crema is Murphy-Goode’s fun, informal tasting room. The staff knows their wine stuff, but is also ready to have “a goode time”, in keeping with the winery’s unpretentious style.

Partake by K-J, 241 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg
Part tasting room, part restaurant, Partake features K-J wines paired with the kitchen’s most excellent small plates: caramelized carrots with Riesling, potato gnocchi with Cabernet Sauvignon, gravlax and caviar with Chardonnay, and much more. Bon appetit!

Stonestreet, 7111 Highway 128, or 337 Healdsburg Ave., both in Healdsburg.
You have two places to experience the wines of the flagship Stonestreet Winery, whose grapes hail from the beautiful Alexander Mountain Estate. All the wines show a unique mountain concentration and intensity.

Hartford Family Winery, 8705 Martinelli Road, Forestville.
Located in the heart of the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, Hartford offers flights of its signature Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and old vine Zinfandels, in a chateau setting.

Matanzas Creek, 6097 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa.
One of Sonoma’s most historic wineries, Matanzas Creek is in the tranquil Bennett Valley appellation. Taste through their award-winning range of reds and whites. The winery is famous for their lavender gardens, fragrant throughout much of the year.

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, 14347 Highway 12, Glen Ellen.
This pioneering winery, in the heart of the Valley of the Moon (Sonoma Valley), has long been famous for their Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. Stop by to see why!

Verité Wines, 4611 Thomas Road, Healdsburg.
One of California’s most highly-rated wineries, Verité crafts exquisitely detailed Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It’s rare for a winery of this stature to admit guests, but, by appointment, you can taste with winemaker Pierre Seillan.

Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.