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Arrowood Vineyards and Winery: Tucked into a hillside, this tasting room has a magnificent sweep of scenery from its wraparound veranda. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon produced from fruit grown throughout Sonoma County, Arrowood also makes Malbec, a red blend, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Chardonnay. The portfolio tasting starts with Sauvignon Blanc and finishes with Cabernet ($15); the limited releases flight is all Cabernet ($25). A private seated tasting can be arranged ($40), or a wine-and-cheese pairing with four wines matched to different cheeses and food bites ($45). 14347 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, 707-935-2600, arrowoodvineyards.com.
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Auteur Wines: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rule the menu at Auteur, with winemaker Kenneth Juhasz at the helm. The grapes come from local vineyards and also Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Look for Auteur in a charming bungalow that’s been repurposed as a homey tasting room. A communal table outside on the patio brings together the by-appointment- only tasters, or sip indoors by the fireplace ($35). Juhasz founded Auteur in 2003 with his wife, Laura, after stints with The Donum Estate and others. 373 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-938-9211, auteurwines.com.
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Bedrock Wine Co: Less than a year ago, this producer of heritage-centric wines opened a tasting room in the General Joseph Hooker House, the historic cottage just off Sonoma Plaza. Bedrock sources grapes from heritage vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Contra Costa County, and a tasting ($30, by appointment) might include a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Musque, or a blend of Zinfandel, Mataro, and Carignane. The Bedrock Heritage wine is a mixture of 27 inter-planted varietals, dating to 1888, that is 50 percent Zinfandel. 414 First St. E., Sonoma, 707-343-1478, bedrockwineco.com.
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Cast Wines: Several tasting options are available at this small producer of sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and others. A seated tasting of four varietals takes place on the terrace ($15), or try the reserve tasting of five varietals ($25). The cellar tasting includes a cheese and charcuterie plate and a peek into the workings of the winery ($35). For the full Cast experience, take the immersion tour through vineyards and learn how fermentation and aging is achieved ($40, or $65 with a box lunch reserved in advance). 8500 Dry Creek Road, Geyserville, 707-431-1225, castwines.com.
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Cellars of Sonoma: Owner Scott Jordan pours the wines of several small-lot labels created by local winemakers, such as Amorosa Bella, Deering, Estate 1856, Mengler Family, Nero Cellars, and Super Sonoman. Some of these winemakers’ side projects consist of only a few barrels and cases. The options for tasting run the gamut, from an all-white flight to an all-red flight, to a combination flight that might begin with a sparkling brut rosé ($15 each). Jordan will likely be your server, and he can explain all the nuances of each wine. 20 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-578-1826, cellarsofsonoma.com.
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Fritz Underground Winery: This winery offers the best of both worlds: a beautiful view from the outdoor patio, and the three-level underground winery itself, available for tours. It was built about 40 years ago as a sustainable way to use less energy. Fritz is a producer of several varietals from grapes grown primarily in the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys. The basic tasting is $15; the reserve flight might start with a sparkling blanc de noirs, followed by Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon ($20). Tours of the cave are conducted twice daily by appointment ($45). 24691 Dutcher Creek Road, Cloverdale, 707-894-3389, fritzwinery.com.
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Ledson Winery: “The Castle,” as it’s commonly called, looms large along Highway 12, a 16,000-square-foot mansion that draws in curious visitors. Ledson offers a large portfolio of whites and reds, with many available for the classic sampling at three spacious tasting bars ($20 and $30). A private seated tasting can be arranged, conducted in a suite or on the veranda ($75). Don’t miss the well-stocked marketplace, with wine, fresh and packaged food, and gifts. 7335 Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-537-3810, ledson.com.
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Lioco Wine Company: Lioco is one of the new kids on the block in downtown Healdsburg. Look for the bright yellow door outside, and take a moment inside to appreciate the stylized map of Northern California on two walls. Primarily producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Lioco also makes Sauvignon Blanc, a rosé of Carignane, and Valdiguié. Two flights are offered: the Deep End ($20) and the Headwaters ($30), which features tastes of four vineyard-designated wines the owners consider their “show ponies.” Arrange a tasting appointment through the Tock reservation website, exploretock.com. 125 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-395-0148, liocowine.com.
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Medlock Ames: A welcome stop at a corner along Highway 128, Medlock Ames offers a tasting flight not requiring reservations ($15), and a seated cheese-and-wine pairing with reservations, especially on weekends ($25). For a more immersive experience, reserve a tasting and tour ($40) at nearby Bell Mountain Ranch, where the winery is located among 338 acres of vineyards that dip into four AVAs – Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill, and Knights Valley. From these vineyards, winemaker Ames Morison produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. 3487 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 707-4318845, medlockames.com.
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Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyards: With 250 acres of vineyards within both the Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill appellations, this winery produces two labels – Notre Vue and Balverne. Featured wines include a Rhône red blend, a white blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, and a Bordeaux blend. The Balverne label includes a reserve Pinot Noir, among others. A flight of each label is available ($15 to $35), or book an in-depth tour and tasting ($55). On March 24, Notre Vue hosts a vineyard hike and cooking class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; call for details and reservations. 11010 Estate Lane, Windsor, 707-433-4050, notrevueestate.com.
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Roadhouse Winery: Stepping into this tasting room is like going back to the 1970s, with classic rock by Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac spinning on the vintage stereo equipment. A lava light and boxes of vinyl records make Roadhouse a refreshingly atypical place to sip wine. It produces mostly Pinot Noir, but also a Cabernet Sauvignon, and most of the bottles are finished with hand-dipped wax closures. A basic tasting of four Pinots is $20. A curated “wine and vinyl” tasting experience includes a flight of wine set to your favorite tunes on vinyl – you can even bring your own records ($69, reservations required). 240 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-433-0433, roadhousewinery.com.
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Rockpile Vineyards: Most people know Rockpile as a small appellation within the larger Dry Creek Valley AVA. It’s also a label produced by the Wilson Artisan Wine group, and the wines can be sampled at Rockpile’s year-old tasting room on the main drag in Healdsburg along the new roundabout. The tasting menu changes frequently for the Heritage flight, but expect to sample one red blend and three single-vineyard Zinfandels ($15); the seated Summit flight includes six tastes ($25). 206 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-9206, rockpilevineyards.com.
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Séamus Wines: Located in the Kenwood Village Center, Séamus is a popular gathering spot offering live music most Saturdays. This family-owned small producer makes 2,500 cases annually, and many have won prestigious awards at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. An introductory tasting includes Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and a cuvée ($12). The Golden Road Burgundy-style flight features Chardonnay and two Pinot Noirs ($15). Three Cabernet Sauvignons made from Sonoma Valley fruit comprise the Golden Road Bordeaux flight ($23). Most wines are also available by the glass. 8910 Sonoma Highway, Suite C-7, Kenwood, 707-5737277, seamustastinglounge.com.
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Siduri Wines: Pinot Noir is the star at Siduri, which was founded by Adam and Dianna Lee in a warehouse in Santa Rosa. This tasting room opened about three years ago as a more comfortable alternative to sipping in the warehouse, although that option is still available by appointment only. The Healdsburg lounge offers the seated Passion for Pinot flight of five single-vineyard wines from grapes grown along the West Coast ($20). The wines are on draft by the glass and can be paired with food, too. 241 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-6000, siduri.com.
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Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards: While many wineries offer bocce to visitors, Sonoma-Cutrer embraces the game of croquet on an expansive lawn suitable for serious competition. Sign up for two hours with a croquet pro, ideal for as many as eight people ($10, wine extra). The winery is known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and several tasting options are available. The Heritage tasting includes both varietals ($15); the Gold Ridge tasting is Pinot-focused ($25); and the Grand Cru reserve tasting includes samples of limited-production single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinots ($35). 4401 Slusser Road, Windsor, 707-237-3489, sonomacutrer.com.
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Spann Vineyards: Peter and Betsy Spann have decades of wine industry experience to draw from for crafting an impressive portfolio of fine whites and reds. A basic tasting ($15) might include Yin-Yang, a white blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. Be sure to try the MoJo, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, and Petit Verdot – named as an homage to Austin Powers and Jim Morrison. Combine chocolate and wine in a special pairing ($23), or make a reservation for a pizza-and-wine flight, featuring slices from Palooza Gastropub next door ($35). 8910 Sonoma Highway, Suite B-10, Kenwood, 707282-9143, spannvineyards.com.
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Thomas George Estates: This was once the winery founded by legendary Pinot Noir pioneer Davis Bynum, and today’s owners still make artisanal wines from some of the vineyards first planted by Bynum. In addition to Pinot, Thomas George Estates produces Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and a Viognier-Grenache Blanc blend, among others. Two tastings are available without reservations ($25-$35), or choose a reserve tasting in the cave ($50). A private tour and wine-and-food pairing can also be arranged ($100). An extended “wine safari” includes a chef-prepared picnic paired with a bottle of wine of your choice and scenic views ($175). 8075 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-8031, thomasgeorgeestates.com.
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Three Sticks Wines: The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Blanc produced by this label are made from fruit sourced around Sonoma County, including the Petaluma Gap AVA. Located just a block off the Sonoma Plaza, Three Sticks is in the historic Vallejo-Casteñada adobe. A tour and seated tasting of four wines is available ($40), or an immersion tasting of seven wines ($80). Step up to a food-and-wine pairing of five tastes ($85), or make a reservation for the private luncheon, a three-course meal with five wines ($200, weekdays only). 143 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 707-996-3328, threestickswines.com.
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WALT Wines: If you can’t get enough of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, look no farther than WALT. Its portfolio also includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, with the tasting selection of current releases changing frequently ($30). For more in-depth education, make a reservation for Root 101, a single-vineyard tasting that explores WALT’s range of Pinots and the terroir and personalities behind them ($60). To learn even more, sign up for one of the monthly tasting classes called the Mile Marker Series, led by a certified sommelier ($50). 380 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-933-4440, waltwines.com.
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