As we all know, the Sonoma Wine Country has tons of wineries, which can make for a fun weekend getaway. But where’s the fun in elbowing your way to the wine tasting counter, or yelling over the shrill sound of tipsy tourists when trying to engage in a conversation? I don’t know about you, but that sounds more like a rock concert than a relaxing day of wine tasting.
Here at Inhabit we believe getting away from tourist traps and mainstream attractions is the way to have the most fun. Drawing from my ex-Sonoma-dweller knowledge, here are some crowd-free, friendly wineries that I love, in and around the Sonoma Wine Country.
- Terroirs Artisan Wines in Geyersville: A unique wine establishment on a mission, Terroirs Artisan Wines is a hip tasting “gallery” that showcases local small-batch, sustainable wines from wineries that don’t have proper tasting rooms. They host quite a bit of social events, too – from Musical Soirées on select Fridays to occasional charity benefit like Cabernet for Canines. The tasting room’s open Thursday – Monday, from 11:30AM-6:30PM.
- Lancaster Estate in Healdsburg: Located in the beautiful (and less-visited) Alexander Valley, Lancaster Estate Winery gives you the complete wine country experience. Try their newest releases (like the highly praised Cabernet Sauvignon) in the tasting room, take a tour of the vineyard and expansive wine caves, do a wine and cheese pairing in the wine caves — or all three! Just make sure to schedule and appointment beforehand as they have limited space.
- Eighth Street Wineries in Sonoma: A “hidden enclave of artisan wineries” right near the entrance to Sonoma Valley, Eight Street Wineries features nine wine tasting rooms down an unassuming dirt road. Our favorites? The first one you’ll see, Anaba. The Anaba wine tasting room has undergone a recent remodel and, although it’s located at a busy intersection, Anaba retains a comfortable, low-key tasting room — and the SF Chronicle agrees! Our second favorite is Tin Barn Vineyards, a young winery that’s already won awards for their Cabernet, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. Their tasting room is a modern tin barn, which ensures a uniquely Sonoma wine tasting experience.
- Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa: I actually got lost on my first visit to Paradise Ridge because it is so off-the-beaten-path! Perched on a hillside with amazing vineyard views, the Paradise Ridge property is both beautiful and unique: there’s art and sculptures scattered throughout. I can’t think of a better way to finish off the day than watching the sun set while sipping a rosé at Paradise Ridge…
Inhabitant Recommendations (from Facebook Fans)
- Richard Arrowood (of Arrowood Winery)’s new venture: Amapola Creek Winery in Sonoma. They create small-batch, certified organic artisan wines and have been praised for their reds (Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon).