Wineries, growers and wine lovers traditionally celebrate “Sonoma Wine Month” in September or early October, when the grape harvest is in full swing and visitors flock to the county to get a whiff of fermenting wine and watch crush action up close.
With absolutely nothing normal about the last 13 months of pivoting to pandemic restrictions and 2020 summer-fall smoky skies, Sonoma County Vintners has rebuilt their wheel of fortune, declaring April to be the official wine month of 2021. The nonprofit, which represents more than 200 local wineries and affiliated businesses, has packed the 30 days with tastings, cooking classes, food pairings and discounts galore.
In a bonus round, April also includes the California Wine Institute’s “Wines Down to Earth Month” program, which — just in time for Earth Day, April 22 — toasts wineries that employ sustainable farming, winemaking and business practices to preserve land and habitats for future generations. The trifecta is completed by the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance and its Library Wine Tastings Month program, in which winemakers dust off cellared bottles and pour them for those who enjoy discovering how wines age over the years.
Collectively, Sonoma wineries have created inventive, more personal experiences for guests this month to welcome them to the refreshing fling of spring and to express gratitude to those who visited under the trying conditions in 2020, through virtual tastings, bingo nights and trivia contests and ordering wine directly from wineries.
With more than a year of working under COVID-19 protocols and offering in-person and virtual tastings in grand style, local wineries have a lot to offer during the wine month of April. Some of the most interesting events are below. For more options, visit sonomawine.com (Sonoma County Vintners) and bit.ly/39TKKiV (Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance).
Sunday April 11
Breathless Wines: Sisters Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust and Cynthia Faust and their winemaker and honorary sis Penny Gadd-Coster love a party and pour their seriously made yet festive sparkling wines at every opportunity. On this particular Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., join them at their Healdsburg tasting room — yes, in person, not virtual — for a celebration of rosé, both sparking and still. Wear pink, drink pink and listen to live music on the patio, surrounded by gardens. Don’t let the industrial park look of the neighborhood, which includes several wineries, throw you off; Breathless is a refreshing oasis within. 499 Moore Lane, Healdsburg, 707-395-7300, breathlesswines.com
Sunday April 11 and April 18
Bricoleur Vineyards offers its virtual cooking series, “In the Kitchen,” with a how-to demonstration of the making of ratatouille, at 5 p.m. on April 11. Bricoleur hospitality director Chris Richards’ ratatouille will be virtually prepared, paired with the 2019 rosé of pinot noir. On April 18, the Zoom series continues with “Artichokes Two Ways,” also at 5 p.m. Artichoke barigoule and steamed artichokes will be matched with Bricoleur’s 2019 sauvignon blanc. 7394 Starr Road, Windsor, 707-857-5700, bricoleurvineyard.com
Sunday April 11
Gundlach Bundschu Winery Pop-Up Art Gallery: This pop-up art show, in partnership with ArtStanding, features more than 30 Bay Area artists and their works, al fresco, on the winery’s Rhinefarm estate in Sonoma Valley. Open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; reservations are required for wine tasting (prices vary), which includes the art exhibit. Gundlach Bundschu’s expansive, au naturel grounds are scenic and ideal for outdoor interactions with people, wine, art and music. 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma, 707-938-5277. gunbun.com
Thursday April 15
Belden Barns on Sonoma Mountain teams with Encina Farms of Lake County for a virtual tasting with limited-release Belden Barns wines, polenta and the only dedicated Iberico pork grown in North America. Joining Belden in the virtual presentation are Alberto Solis and Helmut Drews, co-founders of Encina Farms; they will taste, with Nate and Lauren Belden, their 2019 Epiphany Grenache and 2015 Estate Sauvignon Blanc with Encina Iberico chorizo and salchichon and Floriani Red Flint Red corn polenta grown by Jenny and Vince Trotter at the Belden farm. $150 a ticket; includes shipping of wines and ingredients. 5561 Sonoma Mountain Road, Santa Rosa, 415-577-8552, beldenbarns.com
Friday April 16
Laurel Glen Vineyard SIP Cellar Angels Virtual Wine Tasting & Education Series: Since its founding in 1977, Laurel Glen has grown its grapes organically, leaving as small an impact as possible on the soils and vines. Patrick Campbell founded Laurel Glen, and now partner Bettina Sichel and winemaker Randall Watkins shepherd the Sonoma Mountain property. Over Zoom at 5 p.m. on April 16, they’ll discuss with Martin Cody of Cellar Angels why organic vineyard management matters. There is no cost to register; a Laurel Glen cabernet sauvignon purchase is encouraged, to taste along with the discussion. 13750 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-933-9877, laurelglen.com
Saturday April 17
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Carneros Cuvee Library Virtual Tasting: This pioneering Sonoma sparkling wine producer with Spanish roots showcases two vintages of its finest bubbly, Carneros Cuvee, which will be tasted side by side online to demonstrate how the wines gain complexity and depth with time in bottle. The 1998 and 2008 Carneros Cuvee wines, made with traditional Champagne methods (which include secondary fermentation in the bottle and long aging on the spent yeast cells), will be delivered to participants in time for the 3 p.m. tasting. Call 707-933-1931 for reservations and to buy the wines. 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 866-845-6742, gloriaferrer.com
Wednesday April 21
Adobe Road Winery: Join proprietor Kevin Buckler and winemaker Garrett Martin as they taste and talk guests through a virtual tasting of four 2018 pinot noirs from two of the most challenging growing regions on the coast: the rugged western edge of the Sonoma Coast and the wind-swept Petaluma Gap. Adobe Road produces an array of wines, from Sonoma and Napa, yet cool-climate pinot noir is in its wheelhouse, given Petaluma’s proximity to the Parmeter Vineyard Sonoma Coast and Griffin’s Lair and Gap’s Crown vineyards in the Petaluma Gap. Tasting is 4:30-5:30 p.m. Cost of wines is $275 and includes shipping. 6 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-744-6699, adoberoadwines.com
Thursday April 22
Sonoma County Vintners & Sonoma County Winegrowers Earth Day Webinar: In celebration of Earth Day, the county’s top winemaking and viticulture associations come together in a live-streamed, free panel discussion at 11 a.m. on how a record-breaking 99% of Sonoma County vineyards are certified sustainable. Panelists include winemakers and growers, who will speak to what sustainability means for the region and why consumers should drink sustainably. Register at sonomawinegrape.org/growers_news_events/earth-day-webinar
Dry Creek Vineyard Honey & Olive Oil Virtual Tasting: At 4 p.m., co-proprietor Don Wallace will host a virtual tasting of the estate’s olive oils and honeys, sold under the K&D Mercantile brand named for Kim and Don Wallace. Diversity is a mantra for this Dry Creek Valley winery, established in 1972 by Kim’s father, Dave. Known for its sauvignon blancs, zinfandels and red Bordeaux-style wines, DCV also shows depth in its other estate-grown products. The winery also offers $1 ground shipping and 15% savings on its wines through April; promo code SCWINE. 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-1000, drycreekvineyard.com
Jordan Vineyard & Winery: This Alexander Valley winery, in multiyear collaboration with Pollinator Partnership, is converting some of its 1,200 acres to habitat for vital pollinators, including the dwindling western monarch butterfly population. On April 22-25, Earth Day fans will see the young pollinator sanctuaries as the winery reopens for Vineyard Hikes, which include a seated charcuterie picnic lunch, salad from the chef’s garden and wine pairing. $110 per person. 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-5250, jordanwinery.com
Ongoing through April
CAST Wines Pour-It-Forward Experience: With a focus on preservation and sustainability, this Dry Creek Valley winery offers its “Serenity Now” flight, which emphasizes its organic and sustainable farming practices. The Serenity Now Flight includes four current releases and nibbles provided from local purveyors. Indoor/outdoor seating on the terrace and a short vineyard tour and sabering lesson are included. $60. 8500 Dry Creek Road, Geyserville, 707-431-1225, castwines.com
Coursey Graves Vertical Estate Tasting: Winemaker Cabell Coursey and business partner John Graves honor both Sonoma County Wine Month and Sonoma Valley Library Wine Tastings Month with multi-vintage tastings on their Bennett Mountain vineyard estate. At 1,500 feet above the valley floor, the tasting site affords sweeping views of the Mayacamas mountain range and Sonoma Valley. Three vintages of estate cabernet sauvignon are paired with Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog cheese and Red Bird Bakery’s Epi bread loaves; a visit also includes a tour of the winery and cave. $60. 6860 Gardner Ranch Road, Santa Rosa, 707-867-1888, courseygraves.com
Dutton-Goldfield Winery: This Russian River Valley winery relaunches its Wine & Cheese pairing in honor of Sonoma County Wine Month. Four wines are served with a selection of local cheeses, each bringing out the best in the other. Marvelous chardonnays and pinot noirs are made by Dan Goldfield, but don’t be surprised to sample equally distinctive varietals such as riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, syrah and zinfandel. $45. 3100 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol, 707-823-3887, duttongoldfield.com
Enriquez Estate Wines Mother’s Day Offerings: This isn’t a tasting per se, but rather an extravagant opportunity to show your mom how much you love her. Order by April 26 to receive the Enriquez Mother’s Day bounty by May 9. From president/winemaker Cecilia Enriquez, locals will receive Enriquez Estate Tempranillo Rosé, a flower arrangement from Bloom Event Co. and desserts from Wine Country Feasts ($125). For $175, out-of-towners will be shipped one bottle each of Enriquez Estate 2013 Sparkling Brut and Tempranillo Rosé and desserts from Wine Country Feasts and have access to a virtual tasting with Cecilia on May 9. 5960 Eastside Road, Forestville, 707-347-9719, enriquezwines.com
MacLaren Wine Syrah Vertical Tasting: Join winemaker Steve Law as he guides you through a vertical tasting (three vintages) of syrah from one of his favorite sites, Samantha’s Vineyard. It’s planted on the northeast side of Russian River Valley, bordering the Chalk Hill AVA, where cooling afternoon breezes promote the making of balanced, fruit-driven syrahs. Law hosts the tastings at MacLaren’s Tasting Cottage in Kenwood and online. $50. 211 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood, 707-833-0101, maclarenwine.com
Talisman Library Wines Tasting: Five consecutive vintages of Talisman’s Adastra Vineyard pinot noirs, from 2009 to 2013, will be poured by owners Scott and Marta Rich in April. They source pinot noir from several North Coast vineyards, chief among them Adastra, in Los Carneros, which is farmed organically — another shoutout for Earth Day — by Chris Thorpe. 13651 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-721-1628, talismanwine.com