Harvest season is in full swing and there is no better time to play hooky and head up to Sonoma for a sunny day of wine tasting than now. Since escaping to wine country is one of our favorite pastimes, here we’re sharing five wineries that we’re currently obsessed with.
1 Hamel Family Wines
Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley, Hamel Family Wines has a stunning tasting room with beautiful views of their 100-percent organic and biodynamic vineyards. The state-of-the-art facility was opened last year and features an indoor-outdoor space that is anchored by a massive and soothing fountain. Lounge outside under a large umbrella or take in the views from the bar inside. George Hamel Jr. made sure that each window was a perfect rectangle, so it would frame the view as if it were art. This attention to detail is everywhere, from the knowledgeable and friendly staff who provide each taster with a wonderfully personal experience to the living roof on top of the winery. The Hamels specialize in "quality over quantity" and produce about 6000 cases of wine per year. Be sure to sip the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2012 Isthmus (a lovely red blend) — both varietals are exceptional.
15401 Sonoma Highway Sonoma, CA 95476
2 Patz & Hall
Patz & Hall’s first vintage of wine came out twenty-seven years ago in 1988. However, their new tasting facility, The Sonoma House, opened in January of 2014. Unlike many tasting rooms which are located on a hill, the Sonoma House is on a clear, flat plain of land. Just planted-vines surround the house which is decorated in a sage green, slate grey, and mustard yellow color scheme. As it’s an actual house, each room is cozy and inviting with plenty of nooks and crannies to sneak off to with a bottle of Patz & Hall’s exceptional bubbles. There’s also a serene outdoor patio, bustling bar, and on chilly days, a roaring fireplace. A tasting involves six varietals and food pairings that are locally-sourced and are meant to enhance your experience. The refreshing Chardonnay has a lovely acidity that encourages the drinker to crave food, while the Pinot is aromatic, light, and clearly a work of passion for the four founding members of the winery, Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz.
21200 8th Street East Sonoma, CA 95476
For a more unconventional tasting experience, we look to Scribe winery. Founded by two brothers, the reigning princes of Sonoma Valley, Andrew and Adam Mariani, Scribe is known for its roaring club parties, hacienda tasting room, and exceptional wines. The 2014 skin-fermented Chardonnay is an excellent example of Scribe’s noteworthy bottles. This rich Chard was aged in neutral oak, stainless steel, and concrete egg making it unlike any other Sonoma Chardonnay. The brothers specialize in elevating everyday varietals like Chard, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon and they also make a few German whites — a Sylvaner and Riesling to be exact. The unpretentious tasting room is really just a bunch of picnic tables under an ancient looking tree, but the wine and accompanying food pairing is worth a trip up the palm tree-lined hill to visit Scribe.
2300 Napa Road Sonoma, CA 95476
4 Gundlach Bundschu
Located almost directly next door to Scribe is one of Sonoma’s oldest wineries and the oldest family-owned winery in California, Gundlach Bundschu (pronounced gun-lock bun-shoe). The Gunlachs and Bundschus have been making wine since 1858 and their tasting room is filled with historic photos, eclectic family memorabilia, and old artifacts making it feel like a winery museum. Plan ahead and reserve a lakeside table outside of the winery where you can enjoy a bottle of Gun Bun’s Rose and a picnic lunch. The vineyard also has a small amphitheater with concerts and events and offers exciting off-roading excursion tours of the property.
2000 Denmark Street Sonoma, CA 95476
5 Ram’s Gate
Quite possibly the closest tasting room to San Francisco is Ram’s Gate. Located off of Arnold Drive, Ram’s Gate has one of the most luxury tasting rooms around. With 360-degree views of the valley, a wide expansive patio, and plenty of plush comfortable seating, you’ll want to book a few hours of time at this one-of-a-kind winery. Note that appointments are required to experience anything (and everything!) that Ram’s Gate has to offer, so book yours in advance. There are seven different tasting options to choose from and they include a simple four-wine flight at the long silver bar; a wine-paired picnic for two served pond side with a panoramic view of the vineyard paradise; and a three-hour extravaganza with a behind-the-scenes tour, single vineyard and library wine tasting, and gourmet food pairings.
28700 Arnold Drive Sonoma, CA 95476