A first-time visitor to Sonoma wine country is usually struck by its rustic charm, especially compared to the more dense and obviously affluent Napa. It has no Target or Dean & DeLuca, and blessedly few traffic jams--driving headaches experienced while traveling between Sonoma wineries are more likely to be caused by getting stuck behind a tractor or rickety pickup truck overloaded with fertilizer and farm equipment.

Like Napa, “Sonoma” can refer to a valley, a county, a municipality, and also a shorthand for a distinctive terroir that defines many of America’s finest wines. While no Sonoma wines lack voluptuous, ripe fruit flavors, many of them also display cool-climate elegance, delicacy, and a depth more often associated with the old world.

In 1846, Sonoma town was declared by its American settlers to be the capital of the “California Republic” or (“Bear Republic”), an ungoverned state that lasted for 26 days between revolt from Mexican rule and occupation by the U.S. military. Its short-lived flag featured a brown bear, which is now on the state flag of California today, as are the words “California Republic”.

Nearly ten years after this political upheaval, the Buena Vista winery was established by Count Agoston Haraszthy, a colorful Hungarian immigrant who was not, in fact, a Count. He is one of several men sometimes referred to as the “Father of the American Wine Industry” which is debatable--as such anointments almost always are. But it is certain that his pioneering work in viticulture had lasting effects on the wine industry.

While Napa summer temperatures often climb into the 90s, in Sonoma it is infrequent to even see 85. This cooler climate is essential to achieving the perfect ripeness/acidity balance that defines the best Sonoma wine. The Russian River is an important to the climate as well, pulling fog through the valley to provide a further cooling influence.

Sonoma’s 13 AVAs are Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Carneros, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Knights Valley, Northern Sonoma, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley.

Sonoma County's top varieties based on acres planted as of 2015 are:
Chardonnay - 15,801
Pinot Noir - 12,281
Cabernet Sauvignon - 12,090
Merlot - 5,222
Zinfandel - 5,164
Sauvignon Blanc - 2,600
Syrah - 1,786

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir embody the excellence of Sonoma wine, at least to casual fans. Russian River Valley and Carneros are the appellations most associated with exquisite bottlings of these Burgundian varietals, though they can certainly be found at their best elsewhere in the region. Sonoma Valley’s Hanzell Vineyards--maker of one of California’s most coveted Chardonnays--is noted in The Oxford Companion to Wine as the first California winery to widely embrace the use of French oak barrels.

While Chardonnay is the most-planted white grape in Sonoma, low-yielding Pinot Noir is actually edged by Cabernet Sauvignon for most abundant red. From a marketing perspective, Sonoma Cabernet suffers at the hands of Napa Cabernet’s superior brand recognition, but the best examples from Alexander Valley and elsewhere show that the wines themselves stand with America’s best. There are also fantastic and overlooked Merlots produced by Sonoma wineries that rarely have the low-acid “flabbiness” unfairly ascribed to California Merlot.

Sonoma is also Northern California’s Zinfandel paradise, with Dry Creek Valley recognized as the leading source of spicy, jammy vinifications of California’s signature grape. The small, northern Rockpile AVA is also noted for great Zinfandel.

In addition to wine, Sonoma county is also a craft beer destination, providing a home for famous microbreweries like Russian River Brewing Co. and Racer 5 (whose flagship IPA is appropriately named “Bear Republic”). There is no shortage of top-tier restaurants either, mostly concentrated in the towns including Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Sonoma itself.

Scroll down to find Sonoma County's best wineries. The "Highest Visitor Ratings" section lists Sonoma County wineries that have received visitors' highest ratings for service, views, and wine quality. The "Highest Wine Critic Ratings" section lists the producers of Sonoma's best wines based on awards won at international wine competitions and ratings from publications such as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and The Wine Advocate.

The "All Sonoma County Wineries" section contains a comprehensive, and continuously updated, list of Sonoma County wineries. Click "map view" to access the advanced winery search to find wineries that provide vineyard lodging, have food available to complement their wines, host vineyard weddings, or produce wines from organic grapes. We make it easy to find the best wine tour and tasting destinations in Sonoma County wine country.


Regions

 

Alexander Valley AVA

Bennett Valley AVA

Chalk Hill AVA

Dry Creek Valley AVA

Fort Ross-Seaview AVA

Fountaingrove District AVA

Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA

Knights Valley AVA

Rockpile AVA

Russian River Valley AVA

Sonoma Coast AVA

Sonoma Mountain AVA

Sonoma Valley AVA



Recent Winery Reviews



Articles



Sonoma County Wine Events

 

Pick of the Vine (2017)

4/01/2017 - 4/01/2017

 

Passport to Dry Creek Valley (2017)

4/29/2017 - 4/30/2017

 



Top Varieties

 

Chardonnay

Pinot Noir

Syrah

Cabernet Sauvignon

Zinfandel

Sauvignon Blanc

Merlot

Cabernet Franc

Viognier

Pinot Gris/Grigio

Grenache

Petite Sirah

Sangiovese

Gewurztraminer



Sonoma County Wine Links

Sip On This Juice
Sonoma County Grape Growers Association
Sonoma County Vintners

See all Sonoma County Photos



View All

Sonoma County Wineries - Highest Wine Critic Ratings


1.   Hartford Family Winery  
5.0
5.0
2.   Hartford Family Winery - Healdsburg  
5.0
5.0
3.   Kistler Vineyards  
5.0
5.0
4.   Littorai  
5.0
5.0
5.   Martinelli Vineyards  
5.0
5.0
6.   Maybach Family Vineyards  
5.0
5.0
7.   Patz & Hall Winery  
5.0
5.0
8.   Verite Tasting Room  
5.0
5.0
9.   Verite Winery  
5.0
5.0
10.   Anakota  
4.5

View All



All Sonoma County Wineries (816) [map view]


6 North

A Rafanelli Winery

Acorn Winery / Alegria Vineyards

Adastra Tasting Room

Adler Fels

Adobe Creek Vineyards

Adobe Road - Sonoma

Adobe Road Winery

Adrian Fog Winery

Agharta Wines

Akoma Zoume

Albini Family Vineyards

Alchemy Wine Productions

Aldrich Browne

Alexander Valley Vineyards

Alma Fria

Alquimista Cellars

Alysian Wines

Amapola Creek

Amelle Wines

Amista Vineyards

Amphora Winery

Anaba Wines

Anakota

Ancient Oak Cellars

Annadel Estate Winery

Annapolis Winery

Anthill Farms Winery

Aperture

Arbios Cellars / Praxis Cellars

Arbor Bench Vineyards

Archipel Wines

Argot Wines

Arista Winery

Armagh Vineyard

Armida Winery

Arnot-Roberts

Arrowhead Mountain Vineyard

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery

Ashton Vineyards and Wines

Atascadero Creek Winery

Atelier Winery

Athair

Attune Wines

August Truth

Auteur Wines and Vineyards

Azari Vineyards

Azzaro Vineyards

B. Wise Vineyards

B.R. Cohn Winery

Bacigalupi Vineyards

Bailarin Cellars

Bailiwick Wine Company

Baker Lane Vineyards

Balletto Vineyards

Banshee Wines

Barbed Oak Vineyard

Barber Cellars

Barnett Vineyards

Bartholomew Park Winery

Battaglini Estate Winery & Vineyard

Bedarra Vineyards

Bedrock Wine Company

Belden Barns

Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves

Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves

Bellacana Vineyards

Beltane Ranch

Bennett Valley Cellars

Benovia Winery

Benziger Family Winery

Bertapelle Cellars

Berthoud Vineyards & Winery

Bevan Cellars

Bink Wines

Bjornstad Cellars

BKB Wines

Black Goose Wines

Black Knight Vineyards

Blackstone Winery

Blagden Wines

Blanchard Family Wines

Blue Rock Vineyard

Bluenose Wines

BobDog Winery

Bodkin Wines

Boheme Wines

Bonneau Wines

Bracey Vineyards

Brack Mountain Wine Company

Bradford Mountain at VML

Bradford Mountain Winery

Branham Estate Wines

Breathless Wines

Broadway Vineyards

Brogan Cellars

Bruliam Wines

Bryter

Bucher Vineyard

Bucklin

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