The Sonoma Valley area stretches from the city of Sonoma at the south end, and then grows northward along the Sonoma Highway (Highway 12) on its way to Santa Rosa. This wine country includes some very old wineries, and some excellent dining options.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Sonoma Valley
Benziger Family Winery – Strong family values (over a dozen Benziger family members involved in the business) help drive this friendly wine producer that is certified Organic and Biodynamic. We love their Pinot Noirs (particularly the “Terra Nuema”) and their Bordeaux blend “Tribute”. 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen (888) 490-2739
Buena Vista Winery – California’s oldest premium winery (founded in 1857) provides some nice photo opportunities on grounds where you can find approchable, tasty wines. There are plentiful picnic tables here as well, in a park-like setting. Try to include a tasting of the Dijon Clone Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Ramal Vineyards. 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma (800) 926-1266
Gundlach Bundschu – Family business with six generations of history under their belt on this estate vineyard focusing on making small lots of ultra-premium wines. Friendly, casual, thoroughly enjoyable place where you can hopefully try their Gewurztraminer, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, and Vintage Reserve. 2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma (707) 938-5277
Hawkes Wine – Very close to the square is this quaint farmhouse-style tasting room for a winery that is actually based on Alexander Valley. Friendly service and an excellent Home Chardonnay can be found here. 383 West First Street, Sonoma (707) 938-7620
Imagery Estate Winery – In a fusion of wine and art, these wines are bottled with one-of-a-kind artwork on labels from international artists. Beyond the labels you will find well-made wines from less-common varietals such as Muscato di Canelli, Aleatico, Barbera, Lagrein, and Petit Verdot. 14335 Highway 12, Glen Ellen (877) 550-4278
Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery – Purchased in 2008 by Bill Foley, Sebastiani Vineyards was the only winery in Sonoma County to continue operations through Prohibition, part of their 100+ years of history. There are several picnic tables around the courtyard for visitors to use, and the wines here are easy-drinking and moderately priced. We personally tend to prefer the reds over the whites here, favoring the Barbera and Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon. 389 Fourth Street East, Sonoma (707) 933-3230
WALT Wines – Just a few steps up from the Northwest corner of the Plaza, this cozy tasting room (formerly known as Roessler Cellars) specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In fact, they make between 17 and 20 different Pinot Noirs each year, a combination of regional and single-vineyard designations. Try to include the Blue Jay (Anderson Valley) and Ridges Estate Pinot Noirs in your visit. 380 First Street West, Sonoma (707) 933-4440
Favorite Food Stops in Sonoma Valley
Cafe La Haye – Phenomenal food just off of Sonoma Square with gracious, welcoming service. The place is pretty small, so make sure to make reservations, and you should seriously consider whatever the day’s specials are. 140 Napa Street East, Sonoma (707) 935-5994
El Dorado Kitchen – Classy, spacious wine country restaurant preparing wonderful food in a variety of settings on site. You have your choice of a stone courtyard for outside dining, an intimate inside dining area, or a relaxing bar lounge with a fireplace. 405 First Street West, Sonoma (707) 996-3030
El Molino Central – Hole-in-the-wall find with authentic Mexican street food. In the mornings, your choices are Chilaquiles or Enfrijoladas, but after 11 am there is a full range of choices including enchiladas and tamales. Very limited seating, but great to-go capabilities. 11 Central Avenue (at Highway 12), Boyes Hot Springs (707) 939-1010
Girl and the Fig – French country food, excellently prepared, in an eclectic and fun environment. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Girl and the Fig also has a food product line. 110 Spain Street West, Sonoma (707) 938-3634.
Hot Box Grill – Small restaurant emphasizing local ingredients in stylish, well-made dishes. Open less than a year, and a very quick success. 18350 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12), Sonoma (707) 939-8383
Mamma Tanino’s Ristorante – Excellent Italian food (including homemade pasta) in a casual, friendly neighborhood destination. Pay no attention to the fact it’s in a strip mall. 500 Napa Street West, Suite 512, Sonoma (707) 933-8826