Best Sonoma Wineries to Visit This Summer

Tasting room terraces are open and Sonoma County wineries are turning up the heat on summer fun.

Tasting room terraces are open and wineries are turning up the heat on summer fun. Special events include chef’s lunches and dinners, and oysters or pizza paired with premium wines. There’s something for everyone at the tasting rooms listed here. Most events require advance tickets and reservations, so call or check websites to learn the latest.

Bartholomew Park Winery, Sonoma: The short trek to this tasting room east of downtown Sonoma is worth the effort. The history is as thick as the stone walls of the 100-year-old building. Don’t miss the museum just off the tasting room, and ask if a private tour is possible. Tastings begin at $15 and include Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, and a changing library selection. Add $5 for a reserve upgrade to sample the Abbot’s Passage Points Unknown, a Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes from a restored vineyard in Sonoma Valley. Call about the oysters and Sauvignon Blanc event, planned for June. 1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma, 707-9393026, 

Benovia Winery, Santa Rosa: A producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Grenache, Benovia offers a 75-minute tasting ($30) by appointment only (same-day appointments may be available). Tastings take place in the Ranch House, with lovely vineyard views from the patio. Benovia is in the heart of the Russian River Valley, but a bit off the beaten track. 3339 Hartman Road, Santa Rosa, 707-921-1040,

Claypool Cellars, Sebastopol: The “Purple Pachyderm Pinot Noir tasting room” has moved to a new location, north of Sebastopol. Les and Chaney Claypool promise a quirky wine tasting experience in more spacious digs, with an old-timey Western bordello theme, outdoor seating, and serene vineyard views. Walk-ins are welcome seven days a week for a tasting flight ($25). The Claypools produce excellent Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley fruit. 5425 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, 707-8201263, 

Comstock Wines, Healdsburg: The pizza oven is back, stoked up for Saturday visitors who want to add a little pizzazz to their tasting experience. A seated pizza pairing is offered ($50) with a flight of four wines (three whites, one red), or add a whole pizza to your chosen tasting for $16. A basic tasting flight of five current release wines is $20; a private terrace tasting of six wines is $40. On the first Sunday of the month, a brunch is offered with Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir paired with seasonal bites ($50). Picnics can also be reserved here in the lovely landscaped setting. 1290 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-473-8027, 

Deerfield Ranch Winery, Kenwood: Stroll out of the sunshine and into a long walkway lined with stacked barrels and fragrant with aging wine to begin your tasting adventure 60 feet underground. Rooms in this cave, maintained at a cool 58 degrees, are furnished with comfortable sofas and easy chairs. Select five wines to enjoy ($20), including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, a Syrah cuvée, and a Malbec cuvée. The 2014 White Rex (named for winemaker Robert Rex), is a blend of four white varietals. Also ask to try the 2006 DRX Meritage, a Bordeaux-style blend, and the 2012 Zinfandel made with grapes from 130-year-old vines. 10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707833-5215,

Donum Estate, Sonoma: Combine wine tasting and sculpture gazing in one visit at this exceptional property in the Carneros region. Open by reservation only, the tasting experience ($80), lasting up to two hours, spotlights Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; same-day reservations are accommodated when possible. The Donum House is the setting for tastings, nestled among the winery’s 187 acres of vineyards. World-renowned artists have contributed to the expansive sculpture garden. 24500 Ramal Road, Sonoma, 707-939-2290, 

Hawkes Wine, Sonoma: The Hawkes family has farmed more than 85 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay vineyards in Alexander Valley for decades. This tasting room in downtown Sonoma is a comfortable location to enjoy the fruits of their labor. A Cabernet-intensive tasting is available on weekends ($45), complete with a barrel tasting, library selections, and cheese and charcuterie. Reservations are recommended. 383 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-938-7620, 

Iron Horse Vineyards, Sebastopol: The view overlooking the Green Valley AVA is just one of the attractions here. The outdoor tasting room is the place to savor Iron Horse’s renowned sparkling wines (served in the White House for more than 30 years), and don’t miss out on the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Tastings are by appointment, starting at $25. A daily VIP tour and tasting is $30; the winemaker truck tour on Mondays is $50. Every Sunday this summer Iron Horse offers an oyster bar from noon to 4 p.m. (reservations required), with the freshly shucked bivalves prepared grilled or on the half shell, expertly paired with bubbly and Pinot Noir. 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, 707-8871507, 

J Vineyards, Healdsburg: The Bubble Room is a light-filled, luxurious space to savor a seated tasting of still and sparkling wines with food pairings ($125) prepared by chef Carl Shelton. The J Legacy tasting in the Legacy Reserve Lounge ($35) highlights J’s small-production Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparklers. Terrace tastings are also available Fridays through Sundays ($55 with food pairings), and a tour-and-tasting option ($40) gives a behind-the-scenes peek into vineyards and the production facility. Reservations are strongly encouraged for these experiences. Walk-ins are also welcome to taste a flight of five wines ($20). Expect to sip Chardonnay, two Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, and two sparkling wines, including the vibrant Brut Rosé. 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, 888-5946326,

Joseph Swan Winery, Forestville: “Intimate” best describes the Joseph Swan tasting room, which is also the barrel room. Rod and Linda Berglund have continued the winemaking legacy of Joseph Swan for many decades, producing sublime Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Chardonnay. As a small, family-run winery, the tasting room is open weekends only and on select holidays. Six wines are typically available to taste for $10, waived with purchase. (Large groups cannot be accommodated.) 2916 Laguna Road, Forestville, 707-573-3747,

Lambert Bridge Winery, Healdsburg: The newly renovated Barrel Room has been lushly furnished with sofas, club chairs, and a communal table for more comfortable seated tastings of five wines with food bites ($40, by appointment). Walk-in tastings include a signature flight ($30) at the redwood bar. When the weather is fine, buy a bottle to enjoy in the garden. Lambert Bridge produces Viognier, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Merlot. The Chef’s Table Series is a popular monthly lunch featuring a different local chef preparing a four-course menu paired with wine ($125). Check the website for dates and reservation information. 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707431-9600,

Laurel Glen Vineyard, Glen Ellen: Sonoma Mountaingrown Cabernet Sauvignon is the hallmark of this winery owned by Bettina Sichel, a wine industry veteran. The Laurel Glen vineyard is now certified organic under the careful watch of winemaker Randall Watkins and vineyard manager Phil Coturri. Tasting options include three current releases plus a library vintage of Cabernet ($25), a library tasting of Cabernet vintages that may go as far back as 1981 ($50), and “Lunch with a Vintner” ($75), when Sichel joins visitors for lunch and tasting on Fridays (reservations required). 969 Carquinez Ave., Glen Ellen, 707-933-9877, 

MacPhail Wines, Sebastopol: If you once owned a red Radio Flyer, you’ll enjoy the nostalgia in this tasting room—a floor-to-ceiling sculpture of stacked wagons. Step up to the tasting bar made from a fallen oak tree to sample Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, sourced from fruit mostly grown near Sebastopol. Tastings range from $20 to $30; add a generously sized artisan cheese plate for $20. A seated “terroir tasting” explores the importance of soils in wine-growing, demonstrated with soil samples taken from four distinct vineyards. To watch the goings-on at The Barlow while you sip, try to snag a patio table. 6761 McKinley St. (in The Barlow), Sebastopol, 707-8248400, 

Martinelli Winery & Vineyards, Windsor: The converted hop barn along River Road is an icon, as is the family’s legendary Jackass Hill vineyard, with a 60-degree slope that makes it the steepest non-terraced hillside vineyard in Sonoma County. The Martinellis have been farming this area for more than 100 years. Inside the tasting room, a walk-in tasting is offered, or make a reservation for a seated, 90-minute collector’s flight of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel with local cheeses ($75). The “Baler Bar” tasting ($40) includes a cheese plate and a tour. A vineyard terrace tasting and picnic lunch can also be arranged. 3360 River Road, Windsor, 707-525-0570,

Meadowcroft Wines, Sonoma: A producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, this winery was founded by winemaker Tom Meadowcroft. Grapes are sourced from Sonoma County vineyards, including the Carneros region, and also from Napa’s Mount Veeder AVA. A basic walking tasting offers a choice between classic or reserve wines, with four to five current release wines ($15 to $20). A seated reserve wine tasting with food bites ($30), a Pinot Noir vineyard tour and tasting ($40), and a blending seminar ($70) are also offered with advance reservations. Bring Dad for a special Father’s Day BBQ on June 17, taking place in the Sunset Test Kitchen at Cornerstone (call for details). 23574 Arnold Drive (at Cornerstone Sonoma), Sonoma, 707-934-4090, 

Red Car Winery, Sebastopol: Named for the old trolley cars that rumbled through Los Angeles many decades ago, Red Car makes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah from grapes sourced from cool Sonoma Coast vineyards. The one-hour seated signature tasting is $20; a one-hour reserve Pinot Noir experience for $40 includes five single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Private group tastings for seven or more can also be arranged. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accommodated when space is available. Ask about their Father’s Day (June 17) event, when dads taste for free. 8400 Graton Road, Sebastopol, 707-829-8500,

Thumbprint Cellars, Healdsburg: This small producer of artisan wines, founded by winemaker Scott Lindstrom-Dake, makes many varietals. Taste three wines for $10, or six wines for $20. Food-and-wine flights are also available, with cheese and charcuterie plates for an extra charge. Thumbprint makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, and several red blends; whites include Chardonnay, Viognier, and a sparkling brut. A Spirits line was also recently launched. Three “Books and Wine Evenings” are scheduled in May and June, featuring authors reading from their books (advance tickets required). 102 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-433-2393,

Trione Vineyards & Winery, Geyserville: Enjoy a little bocce with your wine and cheese? Trione offers this fun tasting ($55, reserved at least two days in advance), or an educational tour and tasting experience ($45), also by appointment. A vineyard lunch experience ($90) includes a private tour and farm-to-table picnic lunch in the vineyards near the tasting room. On June 16, the winery hosts a special Food + Wine dinner, beginning with a wine reception in the tasting room and followed by a communal dining table feast ($100). Several generations of Triones have been making wine for decades, including a red called Henry’s Blend. 19550 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, 707814-8100, 

Williamson Wines, Healdsburg: One of the few places still offering no-cost wine tasting paired with small bites is only steps off the Plaza. Williamson produces more than 40 varietals and blends, ranging from Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc to Chardonnay, Viognier, and Roussanne. Reservations are not required for the complimentary tasting, but more indepth tastings are available: $60 for Rhône-style wines paired with food, and $125 for a tasting lunch with the winemaker. These experiences take place at Williamson’s “Eighteen” tasting room, located nearby at 18 Matheson St. 134 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-433-1500,