Undiscovered Wineries to Visit in Sonoma County
Sonoma County is every bit as much of a world class wine region as Napa Valley. More spread out and climatically diverse, it is a little bit harder to navigate if you’re not familiar with the area or its wines, but if you have a trip planned to Northern California consider it an adventure! Here are some lesser-known spots you don’t want to miss.
Banshee Wines Tasting Room (325 Center St., Healdsburg, CA)
Founded in 2009, Banshee specializes in Sonoma County Pinot Noir and works with some of the most prized vineyards in the state. Many of these wines as well as their Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah are available to taste at the outpost in Healdsburg. Tasting Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. (707) 395-0915.
Bergamot Alley (328 A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA)
Bergamot Alley is one of the best wine bars you’ll find, well just about anywhere. It is not California focused but you’ll see European wines here that are hard to find elsewhere. Beers and snacks are also available and most of the wines are available retail. Tasting Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.–1 a.m., Sunday, 12-11 p.m. (707) 433-8720.
Hanzell (18596 Lomita Ave., Sonoma, CA)
Hanzell makes one of, if not the best aging Pinot Noir in California. The Chardonnay is also legendary and several years ago they introduced Sebella, a Chardonnay that drinks earlier than the Estate bottling. Located in the newly anointed Moon Mountain AVA, it has majestic views overlooking Sonoma.. Tasting Hours: By appointment only, (707) 996-3860.
Laurel Glen Vineyard (969 Carquinez Ave., Glen Ellen, CA)
Laurel Glen has been making outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon since 1981 from Sonoma Mountain. The company was sold in 2011 but the quality hasn’t wavered. Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon is a great value and the “Crazy Old Vine Rosé” is perfect for summer sipping. Tasting Hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. daily. (707) 933-9877.
Porter Bass (11750 Mays Canyon Rd., Guerneville, CA)
Located in one of the cooler spots in Sonoma County, Porter Bass makes beautifully balanced, subtle and complex wines from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The Poco a Poco wines are terrific values as well. This is one of the few Demeter (biodynamic) certified properties in California. Tasting Hours: By appointment only, (707) 869-1475.
Porter Creek Vineyards (8735 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, CA)
Porter Creek is a family-owned and run organic property steeped in the French tradition of winemaking. While they are Pinot Noir focused, the old vine Carignane and George’s Hill Chardonnay are standouts. Tasting Hours: 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (707) 433-6321.
Wind Gap Tasting Room at the Barlow (6780 McKinley Street, #170, Sebastopol, CA)
Pax Mahle, the proprietor of Wind Gap, has done a superb job making natural wines from California accessible to a broader market. With Wind Gap and his other labels, Pax and Agharta, he offers a wide selection of cooler and warmer climate wines from an array of popular and esoteric grapes. Tasting Room Hours: Thursday–Sunday, 12–8 pm, Reservations required for groups of eight or more, (707) 331-1393.