Thirteen Fantastic Sonoma Wineries

         Paradise Ridge Winery

Update: Our original article "Thirteen Fantastic Sonoma Wineries" has been updated with 2016 information and is now simply "Fantastic Sonoma Wineries!"

Choosing among Sonoma's more than 400 wineries that provide wine tastings can be an ordeal. Identifying "the best" of anything is difficult, and identifying the best Sonoma wineries is particularly difficult considering all of the wine and non-wine aspects to consider. What type of wine do you like? How much do you want to pay? What type of experience are you looking for?

If you have a general idea of the type of wine tasting experience you're looking for, use our advanced Sonoma winery search to find wineries based on tasting fees, wine prices, wine ratings, visitor ratings, case production, amenities, use of organic grapes, etc. For example, here are the Sonoma wineries that produce the highest rated Pinot Noir costing less than $50 a bottle.

If you just want a short list of Sonoma's best wineries, our reviewers' favorite are listed below. These wineries represent the best of Sonoma: world-class wines, exemplary service, and breath-taking ambiance and views. If you're planning a trip to Sonoma, make sure these wineries are on your short list! For more information about Sonoma Wine Country, to include events, links to Sonoma articles, recent reviews, etc., please visit our Sonoma wineries page.

Deerfield Ranch Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Kenwood, CA)

Excerpts from Sherrie Perkovich's review of Deerfield Ranch Winery:

"Even though Robert has been making wine since the 70’s, the Deerfield Ranch winery that you see today has only been open for a handful of years. It is one of the best kept secrets in Sonoma Valley."

"Deerfield is also a certified green winery, and 98% of the processed wastewater is recycled on-site. Extensive wetlands, forest and habitat on the 40-acre property are actively being restored. All of the estate vineyards are organically farmed, and they make 100% of their own compost."

*2 for 1 Tasting Available with Priorty Wine Pass

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Geyersville, CA)

Excerpt from Denise Gangnes' review of Francis Ford Coppola Winery:

"A winery worthy of “the Godfather” himself, Francis Ford Coppola’s newest facility is a massive spectacle just off Highway 101 in Geyserville, California. It’s well worth a visit. No matter your age, there’s something here for everyone. After all, how many wineries can boast an Olympic sized swimming pool?"

Hanzell Vineyards

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Sherrie Perkovich's review of Hanzell Vineyards:

"Hanzell is literally a hidden gem in the town of Sonoma. One would think since they’ve been making wine since 1957 that everyone in the wine world would know Hanzell, but that just is not the case. They are greatly respected in the industry and hardly known to the average wine consumer."

"Visiting Hanzell is like visiting family. It is an intimate setting that is warm and inviting."

Jordan Vineyard & Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Healdsburg, CA)

Excerpt from Tom Riley's review of Jordan Vineyard & Winery:

"If you set out to visit Jordan Vineyard and Winery expecting it to be like some of the other wineries you've been to, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Jordan doesn't have many of the same things that most wineries offer.

Jordan doesn't have crowds. They don't have guests two and three deep at a long tasting bar. Nor do they have a high-pressured "hospitality" staff pushing you to join the wine club or have you walk out with wines you hadn't planned to buy. If you're looking for that sort of experience, then Jordan is not for you.

If, however, you are looking for a winery that offers an intimate, personal experience, in an elegant and beautiful environment, quiet and unrushed by the world outside its gates, then maybe Jordan is just what you've been looking for. "

Keller Estate Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Petaluma, CA)

Excerpts from Tom Riley's review of Keller Estate Winery:

"Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Keller Estate is one of Sonoma's hidden treasures. The estate comprises 800 acres, with only 90 acres planted to grapes. Perched high above those aforementioned San Pablo flats on the southeastern end of the Petaluma Gap, the expansive front deck offers majestic views of the surrounding hills blanketed in pasture and vines. But the views at Keller are not limited to natural vistas."

"If you plan a visit to Sonoma, there's not a better place to begin your trip than Keller Estate. "

Lambert Bridge Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Healdsburg, CA)

Excerpts from Tom Riley's review of Lambert Bridge Winery:

"I like wineries that understand hospitality, wineries that take a subtle but undeniably professional approach to ensuring the comfort of their guests.

I like wineries that offer exceptional wines but don’t remind you of how wonderful they are every five seconds.

I like wineries where, once your tasting is finished, you try to find ways to stick around just a little bit longer.

Maybe that’s why I like Lambert Bridge so much."

"Nestled in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley, just a few miles northwest of Healdsburg, the hub of Northern Sonoma County, where the Dry Creek, Russian River, and Alexander Valleys converge, Lambert Bridge is one of the brighter stars in Sonoma County’s wine constellation."

"Surrounded by a grove of pines and set on a rise overlooking a wide lawn and rows of vines across the road, the winery has a rustic, almost retro feel, which is accented by the antique trucks parked out front. Whenever I visit Lambert Bridge, I am delighted by the calm there. Whether the parking lot is empty or full, there is a gentle, relaxed feeling to the place that seems to say, “Thanks for stopping by. Glad you could make it."

MacLaren Wine Company

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Elizabeth Smith's review of MacLaren Wine Company:

"The MacLaren Tasting Lounge in Sonoma, which opened a few years ago, is one of the most welcoming settings for wine tasting that I have ever experienced."

"By far, the greatest appeal of MacLaren, besides the exemplary quality of the wines, is that more often than not, Steve will be your tasting host. There are not many tasting rooms or wineries where the winemaker is directly involved in hosting guests, so it is a real treat to be able to hear the passion in his voice as he speaks about each one of his wines. Sitting on the couch, tasting and talking with Steve, you feel like you are at home."

B.R. Cohn Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Glen Ellen, CA)

Excerpt from Becky Eckelkamp's review of B.R. Cohn Winery:

"The grounds of B.R. Cohn Winery can only be described as idyllic. The white-painted buildings look like something out of an oil canvas painting, and the immaculately manicured lawns and gardens are the ideal backdrop for any wedding photo. Then there’s the yard art, a nod to Bruce’s love of classic cars and the winery dog Bruno – not to mention a great photo op for goofy tourists."

Buena Vista Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Tom Riley's review of Buena Vista Winery:

"Buena Vista’s tasting room is housed in the Press House, which was named, along with entire winery, a California Registered Landmark in 1980. Entering the impressive, cut-stone building is to take a step back in time. Staff members, like the courtyard statues, are dressed in 19th century garb, and look completely at home in a room that seems not to have changed since it was built. Exposed wooden beams, rough stone walls, and wrought iron chandeliers help visitors imagine what the winery looked like when Haraszthy was still in charge."

"Buena Vista Winery is one of California’s flagships, and the renewed commitment to excellence is obvious in its wines and facilities. It is an important winery worth visiting."

Cline Cellars

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Tom Riley's review of Cline Cellars:

"For years, when friends who were vacationing in California asked me what wineries they should visit, I would send them to Cline Cellars. My experiences at Cline have been consistently positive ones. Despite always being busy, crowded with eager guests, the staff there always found the time to treat each visitor in a friendly, generous, and relaxed manner."

"These wines are all regarded as well crafted and showing great typicity. The entire Cline portfolio is priced to sell, which only adds to the popularity of these wines. In terms of Quality-Price Ratio (QPR), Cline Cellars is tough to beat."

*2 for 1 Reserve Tasting Available with Priorty Wine Pass

DeLoach Vineyards

(Profile | Photos | Website | Santa Rosa, CA)

Excerpt from Denise Gangnes' review of DeLoach Vineyards:

"It’s refreshing to experience a working farm as part of a wine tasting experience, and there is plenty of space to explore at DeLoach’s estate. Their welcoming tasting room is flanked by an entryway of comfortable couches, tables and chairs on stone patios. Behind the tasting room is the “guest house,” a spacious, windowed building with a commercial kitchen and three bedrooms for overnight guests (yes, weddings are popular at the vineyards)."

Gundlach-Bundschu Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Tom Riley's review of Gundlach-Bundschu Winery:

"Don’t plan to visit Gundlach-Bundschu unless you are in a serious frame of mind. Serious about having fun, that is. At this historic Sonoma winery, family owned since its founding in 1858 and now operated by members of the sixth generation, the only thing they take seriously is their wine. Everything else is about having a great time."

"Enjoying the wines of Gundlach-Bundschu, surrounded by 150-plus years of California winemaking history, and cared for by smart, attentive professionals is really easy to do. Walking away from such a scene? Not so much. Especially when the real world lurks beyond the gates. So, if you like to have fun while learning about and enjoying great California wine, make sure Gundlach-Bundschu is one of the Sonoma wineries on your itinerary."

Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards

(Profile | Photos | Website | Freestone, CA)

Excerpts from Martin Redmond's review of Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards:

"Joseph Phelps Freestone is a beautiful winery with a rustic, yet contemporary aesthetic. I think of it as Napa sophistication with a more casual and relaxed Sonoma County vibe."

"Either way, you’ll enjoy a wine tasting experience enhanced by the quality of service provided by the tasting room hosts, who are very knowledgeable, attentive and friendly."

"Without a doubt JPF is making some of the finest wines in the Sonoma Coast."

Korbel Champagne Cellars

(Profile | Photos | Website | Guerneville, CA)

Excerpts from Denise Gangnes' review of Korbel Champagne Cellars:

"The informative 45-minute tour and the extensively manicured grounds alone are worth the half-hour drive from the nearest city of Santa Rosa. Tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable. Following a video of the Korbel history, visitors learn about dosage and riddling while tasting champagne in the factory and (depending on the day) viewing production."

"One of the jewels of this facility is the deli just a few feet from the tasting room. The ample selection includes a delicious array of gourmet salads, sandwiches and desserts to be devoured on a patio snuggled under the redwoods."

*20% off all California Champagne and Wine with Priorty Wine Pass

Lasseter Family Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Glen Ellen, CA)

Excerpts from Sherrie Perkovich's review of Lasseter Family Winery:

"The winery grounds are serene with rolling vineyards, appropriately landscaped architecture and a masterfully done main winery estate."

"Their wine tasting room is gorgeous. Lasseter offers a wonderful, seated comparative tasting experience in an elegantly designed room with a large dining table where guests sit and enjoy their tasting."

Murphy-Goode Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Healdsburg, CA)

Excerpt from Becky Eckelkamp's review of Murphy-Goode Winery:

"I loved this winery and would go back in a heartbeat. It’s such a positive place, besides having some really good wine. If you visit their website, you get an idea of the upbeat attitude that seems to pervade the entire organization. I think a sense of humor is a prerequisite for working there. Murphy-Goode is a must-visit Healdsburg winery, if not a must-visit Sonoma winery."

Paradise Ridge Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Santa Rosa, CA)

Excerpt from Sherrie Perkovich's review of Paradise Ridge Winery:

"It just doesn’t seem possible that such an amazing winery is tucked away among the seemingly suburban landscape of Santa Rosa…but it is. This stunning property is a destination of its own in wine country."

Patz & Hall Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpt from Elizabeth Smith's review of Patz & Hall Winery:

"The Sonoma House, where tastings occur, was indeed once a spacious home that was purchased in 2012 and redesigned to become a first-class tasting and event facility. It is a large, beautifully designed space that offers indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a clubhouse for private events. "

Ram's Gate Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Anthony Marocco's review of Ram's Gate Winery:

"Much of the interior of the facilities bear the touch of world famous interior designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy who crafted the accent colors, eclectic furniture, and lighting. The beauty of the winery was the first thing that really stood out as we made our way past the manicured gardens, up the walkway into the open courtyard bearing dark wicker padded chairs and tables."

"Our tasting experience was amazing, and we had lot of laughs while exchanging stories with our knowledgeable Tasting Ambassador, Todd Curtis."

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs

(Profile | Photos | Website | Healdsburg, CA)

Excerpts from Martin Redmond's review of Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs:

"Lytton Springs is essentially an above ground cave whose walls are made of a mixture of clay from the vineyard, sand, and straw. It is a solar-powered winery insulated with straw bales. The spacious tasting room, which fronts the modern winemaking facility and barrel room, has a contemporary feel with lots of glass and a wooden tasting bar. And if you want to take your tasting outside (the Dry Creek Valley has absolutely gorgeous weather in the Spring and Fall – Summer can get toasty), there is plenty of covered seating and tables available along the side of the tasting room."

"The tasting room staff is friendly, and among the more knowledgeable (without being too pretentious) that I’ve experienced."

Scribe Winery

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Anthony Marocco's review of Scribe Winery:

"As you walk up from the driveway, you are greeted by the gorgeous, renovated house-turned-winery and the plateau above the vineyard that is littered with picnic tables. Gorgeous bouquets decorate the tables, and winery historians stand by awaiting your appointment. We chose a table that sat just on the top of the incline to the vineyard below, shaded by an old tree with a tire swing hanging from it, and were joined by our winery historian with a cheese and charcuterie board. The views from our table were spectacular as the estate vineyard just below was well into its growth, and we were surrounded by much more acreage from the local vineyard co-op. It is a stunning view from the top of the hillside to the road below where remnants of the property's past as a turkey farm are visible. "

"We left with a whole new appreciation for what they do at Scribe Winery. If you are in Sonoma, you absolutely cannot pass up the opportunity to taste at Scribe. For views, historical significance, and darn good wines, this place will not disappoint."

Sojourn Cellars

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Sherrie Perkovich's review of Sojourn Cellars:

"Sojourn began in 2001 merely as an idea between a couple of tennis buddies that shared a common passion for Pinot and good wine in general. Twelve years later, their winery has evolved into an artisan, boutique producer of amazing hand-crafted wines."

"From the outside, the Sojourn tasting salon appears to be a cute little Sonoma house about a half block off the town square. When you walk in, there is soothing music playing that instantly puts you in a relaxed mood (as if the idea of tasting wine isn’t enough). There are elegant tables set up displaying the wine glasses and other items for your tasting experience. It is a very relaxed and intimate setting in which to taste wine. You’ll wish all wineries conducted their tastings this way."

WALT Wines

(Profile | Photos | Website | Sonoma, CA)

Excerpts from Sherrie Perkovich's review of WALT Wines:

"Walt’s quaint, house-like tasting room is located right in the town of Sonoma just off the very cute town square. Their tasting room is located in a hip-ly redesigned cottage house, with the tasting bar as you walk in, small tables sprinkled throughout, and a lovely garden out back featuring picnic tables and massive old trees."

"Walt does a wonderful job of hiring very knowledgeable and personable wine educators to work in their tasting room. I’ve been there no less than six times and each time I am there I find myself refreshed, relaxed and enjoying my experience. If you are lucky, tasting room manager Scott Herrmann will be there to conduct your tasting for you. He has a lovely energy, is engaging and knows his stuff."

Published: Sept. 22, 2013

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