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Bella Vineyards, Healdsburg: Tasting takes place within the 6,500-square-foot wine cave, available in a few options from basic ($25, no reservations required) to a full tour. Bella is known for its Zinfandel, and you can expect to taste two or three samples, along with perhaps a Pinot Noir or Petite Sirah. The “Ten Acre” tasting ($45) is an outdoor experience from the terrace overlooking Dry Creek Valley. The “Ultimate Tour” ($75) begins aboard a vintage vehicle winding into vineyards, followed by a tasting of limited-release wines in a private redwood grove (reserve in advance). 9711 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-473-9171, bellawinery.com.
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Ceja Vineyards, Sonoma: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Ceja Vineyards, an ultra-premium, family-owned winery led by Mexican-American immigrants Amelia, Pedro, Armando, and Martha Ceja. The winery produces approximately 4,000 cases annually of fruit-forward wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, a red blend called Vino de Casa, and a late-harvest white wine known as Dulce Beso (Sweet Kiss). The $20 tasting features at least five samples — don’t miss the Chardonnay from the family’s Viña del Sol Ranch in the Carneros AVA, with vanilla, pears, pineapple, and apricot on the nose. From the same ranch, the family’s Pinot Noir oozes with black cherry blossoms and hibiscus scents. 22989 Burndale Road, Sonoma, 707-255-3954, cejavineyards.com. (John Burgess)
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Foley Sonoma, Geyserville: Producing between 4,000 and 6,000 cases annually, Foley bottles Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and others. Several tasting options are offered (reservations required for all), beginning with the basic salon tasting ($30). The estate tour and tasting ($40) is a 90-minute grape-to-glass experience. A wineand- cheese tasting ($50) includes a tour, seated tasting, and artisan cheese plate. On the second Friday of each month through September, Foley’s Art & Wines Series takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., featuring local artists and musicians, along with small bites. 5110 Highway 128, Geyserville, 707-433-1944, foleysonoma.com.
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Gracianna Winery, Healdsburg: Named for Gracianna Lasaga, the maternal grandmother of the owners, the Amador family, this winery produces premium Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley fruit. Its estate Pinot Noir vineyard, named the Mercedes Riverblock and planted with a Pinot clone from Dijon, France, is located along the Russian River just steps from the tasting room. The basic tasting is $25; a private 90-minute estate tour and tasting with the owners ($50, Saturday and Sunday only) can be reserved through the winery’s website. Gracianna is open daily this year through Nov. 30. 6914 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-486-3771, gracianna.com.
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Patz & Hall, Sonoma: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the stars here, with a casual tasting option in the Sonoma House that features four samples ($35, walk-ins welcome). The Sonoma House is unique, an elegant former home reimagined as a tasting salon. The “Salon Experience” tasting ($75), by appointment only, includes single vineyard-designate wines paired with gourmet food and lasts approximately 90 minutes. 21200 Eighth St. E., Sonoma, 707-265-7700, patzhall.com.
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Pellegrini Wine Co., Santa Rosa: The Pellegrini winemaking operation has been family- owned for four generations, and its Olivet Lane vineyard on the property within the Russian River Valley AVA features heritage plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines. The winery bottles under two labels: Pellegrini and Olivet Lane Vineyard. Stop in for the classic tasting ($20), or make reservations for an estate tour and tasting ($40), or a tasting with gourmet picnic lunch included ($60). 4055 W. Olivet Road, Santa Rosa, 707-545-8680, pellegrinisonoma.com.
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Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Healdsburg: Before there was a winery at this spot in the Alexander Valley, the Stuhlmuller family was already renowned for growing superior wine grapes for other wineries. Then Fritz Stuhlmuller built this facility and tasting room in 2000 to spotlight the family’s own label. An estate tasting is oered daily ($20); cheese boards can also be added with advance notice, or bring your own picnic feast. In addition to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel, Stuhlmuller produces a Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of sage and bay leaf. 4951 W. Soda Rock Lane, Healdsburg, 707-431-7745, stuhlmullervineyards.com.
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Troika Wines, Sonoma: Noël and Jeff Riggs often dreamed of opening their own winery, and in 2015 they teamed with longtime friends to establish Troika. Winemaker Jon Keyes produces several varietals, many in small lots of less than 200 cases. Tastings are offered Thursday through Monday for walk-ins, and other days by appointment. The “Spring & Summer” tasting ($20) includes two Sauvignon Blancs, a rosé of Grenache, and Pinot Noir. A reds-only tasting ($25) features Pinot, Grenache, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The “Flagship” tasting ($30) is six wines, from white to red. 22985 Burndale Road, Sonoma, 707-492-8213, troikawines.com.
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Truett-Hurst Winery, Healdsburg: Love Zinfandel? Don’t miss Truett-Hurst, specialists in this varietal. A tasting flight ($15) includes five to six small-production wines, including Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to Zinfandel. Truett- Hurst won three gold medals in the 2019 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge — two for Zinfandel and one for Pinot. On weekdays, the patio seating is open to walk-in tasters, as well as the “red chair” area that overlooks Dry Creek. Picnics are also welcome at this kid- and dog-friendly winery. 5610 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-9545, truetthurstwinery.com.
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Victor Hill Wines, Sonoma: The selection o f varietals produced by winemaker Vic McWilliams and co-proprietor Tom Hill is impressive, from Chardonnay and Viognier to Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and several in between. Be sure to try the Bush Vineyard Pinot Noir from Carneros AVA fruit, with hints of pomegranate and cranberry and a finish of tobacco, herbs, and mushrooms. The winery also produces a crisp and fruity Rhône-varietal blend called Belle de Blanc. Walk-in tastings ($20 per flight of five wines) are available most days from noon to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday are by appointment only. 109 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-343-1595, victorhillwines.com.
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Virginia Dare Winery, Geyserville: Leave it to Francis Ford Coppola, the proprietor of this winery, to oer a one-of-a-kind experience. He was inspired by the history of a North Carolina winery that fell on hard times and whose brand was sold numerous times. He brought back the brand and celebrates the Native American influence on the wines, with historic artwork and an on-site restaurant called Werowocomoco (Wero, for short). The tasting room and restaurant are open Friday through Sunday only, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A seated tasting of six wines — red and white blends, a Viognier-Roussanne blend called Two Arrowheads, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay — is $25. 22281 Chianti Road, Geyserville, 707-735-3500, virginiadarewinery.com.
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Viszlay Vineyards, Healdsburg: Like many small producers of premium wine, Viszlay’s portfolio is available only through the winery, and most tastings are by appointment only. Winemaker John Viszlay makes small lots of as many as 12 varietals, so you might be sampling Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, among many others. The daily tasting at the bar is $15; a walking tasting from the winery into the vineyards is $20; and a wine-and-cheese pairing is $25. The more in-depth reserve/ library tasting is $30. Get tickets now to be part of the grape stomp competition on Sept. 1, which includes lunch ($30, check the website). 929 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg, 707-481-1514, viszlayvineyards.com.
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Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery, Sonoma: Wine tasting in the lobby of a posh hotel can’t be beat. Inside the Ledson Hotel on the Sonoma Plaza is the Zina Lounge, showcasing several varietals produced from fruit grown in Mendocino County (where namesake Zina Hyde Cunningham settled in 1865) and the Russian River Valley. The tasting menu ($15 for five wines) might include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. A red blend called Veola is made from Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, with aromatics of black cherry and a hint of cocoa on the palate. Most of the winery’s varietals are produced in fewer than 100 cases. 480 First St. E., Sonoma, 707-895-9462, zinawinery.com.
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