Sonoma may not have the same level of name recognition as its grape growing neighbor Napa, but it should–some of the best wines in the United States are made here. Sonoma County as a whole encompasses 1,768 square miles and is home to close to 20 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), each one producing a wide range of wines. There is a lot to see and taste when it comes to California wine, but rushing to do too much during one trip doesn’t match with the region’s easygoing reputation. With wineries big and small, historic and modern, Sonoma tasting rooms are a perfect place to start your tour of wine country.
7 Sonoma Wine Tasting Rooms That Are the Perfect Introduction To the Region
The downtown Sonoma Plaza is a quaint gateway to wine country lined with hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and tasting rooms. You could easily plan a full day of wine tasting around the Plaza without even having to get in a car. However, you’ll want access to transportation in order to visit wineries on the outskirts of town. By seeing the vineyards where grapes are picked and the facilities where they’re crushed, it’s impossible to leave without gaining a deeper respect for the effort that ends up going into every bottle of wine.
While tasting at its core is simply about trying new wines and learning what you enjoy about them, it’s also a part of a greater experience. Art appreciation, food pairing, and even yoga may play a part in your Sonoma stay. Each one of these Sonoma tasting rooms has something special to offer in terms of their styles of winemaking and atmosphere. There is something for everyone here.
The wineries and tasting rooms below are all worthy stops on any Sonoma itinerary. Keep in mind that this list represents a tiny fraction of Sonoma’s wine scene so you’ll just have to come back one day to experience it all. There is so much more to explore and even if you wish to revisit the places you’ve already been to, each new vintage brings a fresh slate of wines.
Winery tasting rooms in Sonoma to check out
Anaba’s bucolic property is located in a quiet corner of Sonoma. As much as it is an ideal place to unwind with wine, the winery also offers amenities like bocce ball and pickleball courts by reservation. If you happen to be in town during the last Sunday of the month between June and October you can even book an on-site yoga class.
The winery gets its name from anabatic winds, air currents that flow up hillsides and serve as a cooling influence on the vineyards. These winds in Anaba’s case come from the nearby San Pablo Bay, the presence of which makes the area ideal for growing cooler climate grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir. Naturally, these make up the majority of Anaba’s portfolio, although they also dabble in Rhône varietals like grenache blanc and syrah which are less commonly produced in this part of California.
Where: 62 Bonneau Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
Buena Vista Winery
History buffs, this one’s for you. Founded in 1857 by Hungarian nobleman Agoston Haraszthy, Buena Vista Winery is California’s oldest premium winery. It managed to ride out obstacles from multiple phylloxera outbreaks in the vineyards to Prohibition to the 2014 South Napa earthquake. More than 150 years after it first opened, the estate is still standing.
Today, the winery commemorates its history with bottlings like The Founder, a red blend that pays tribute to Haraszthy. If the storied past isn’t enough to entice you, you may be intrigued by an equally vivid present. Buena Vista was acquired in 2011 by Jean-Charles Boisset, a French vintner with a penchant for opulent design. In addition to many renovations and cosmetic upgrades, was a seismic retrofit to the winery’s Champagne Cellars. The cellars shut down in 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake, and reopened in 2012 for sparkling wine production and tours.
Where: 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
A visit to Ceja Vineyards is its own special occasion, and the bell featured on each bottle of wine here seems to allude to that experience. The Cejas, one of the first Mexican-American families to own and operate their own winery in California, and the family’s presence in the business lends itself to a welcoming atmosphere at the winery’s intimate tasting room space.
You can learn all about the Ceja family’s journey from Mexico to California wine country while you sample current releases. It’s production includes chardonnays, pinot noirs, cabernet sauvignons, and even dessert wine if you enjoy something on the sweeter side. Take or ship some bottles home, then check out the appetizing collection of recipes on their website to cook and pair the wines with.
Where: 22989 Burndale Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
The art of winemaking meets the art of sculpture at Donum Estate. The winery is home to one of the world’s largest publicly accessible private sculpture collections. Pieces by Fernando Botero, Keith Haring, and Yayoi Kusama among others serve to enhance the natural beauty of the grounds. Walking tours are offered, but you may opt for cruising the estate on an all-terrain vehicle tour.
While the stunning sculptures are undeniably a draw for visitors, what’s in the glass more than measures up and easily compliments an all-around enjoyable sensory experience. Donum focuses on chardonnay and pinot noir, the star grapes of the Carneros AVA where the winery is located.
Where: 24500 Ramal Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
This is where you go to take a brief hiatus from all the still wines you’ve been tasting, and indulge in some sparkling wine instead. Gloria Ferrer produces an array of sparkling wines made in the traditional méthode champenoise. The founders, Gloria and José Ferrer, were already well-known cava producers in Spain when they arrived in Sonoma in the early 1980s to do what they did best with different grapes in a fresh location. The town is better for it–who doesn’t love a nice glass of bubbles?
The winery has a beautiful terrace where you can try blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, and rosé sparklers amid vineyard views. If you visit on a weekend, you can reserve a seat at the tasting room’s multi-course brunch pairing.
Where: 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Gundlach Bundschu is another historic winemaking estate which first opened all the way back in 1858, just one year after Buena Vista Winery. It is California’s oldest continuously family-owned winery with the sixth generation of Bundschus currently in the business. Affectionately referred to as “Gun Bun” by locals, it’s a staple on any Sonoma newcomer’s to-do list.
This winery produces a range of different reds and white wines including a gewürztraminer as a nod to the family’s Alsatian heritage. If you want to learn more about how it’s all made, there are vineyard tours, cave tours, and even estate tours on the winery’s Pinzgauer. If you’ve ever dreamed of sipping wine while off-roading in a Swiss army vehicle, this is your moment.
Where: 2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma, CA 95476
Three Sticks Wines
Wine tasting at Three Sticks is a lesson in terroir, the name for the combination of a particular place’s natural elements that collectively impact grape quality and character. This would consist of everything from microclimate to soil type to topography, meaning even wines made from grapes grown in different blocks on the same property can vary greatly. Single-vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir are the stars at Three Sticks. Thanks to the focused production, visitors can taste how much location matters through different expressions of the same varietal.
The tasting room is located downtown in the Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe, once the private residence of Sonoma’s founder, Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. Three Sticks would be a perfect spot to book a tasting before or after lunchtime as there are plenty of stellar restaurants around the Plaza within walking distance.
Where: 143 West Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476
Note: increasingly, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began, wineries in the area have been pivoting toward appointment-only visits in order to provide optimal experiences for guests. Please call ahead or check websites while planning your trip to ensure you are able to get in where you want to go. Cheers!