20 Great Places to Drink Wine in Sonoma County, California

Sip, eat, and hike among the vines while getting to know this vast and varied wine region.

Vineyards at GB Winery on a sunny day

Gundlach Bundschu Winery is a historic yet laid-back place to drink a glass (or two) of wine in Sonoma.

Courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu Winery

As a San Francisco resident, I’m lucky enough to live within driving distance of many incredible wine-growing regions. But when I want to spend a day (or even weekend) tasting wine among the vines, more often than not I head to Sonoma County’s wine country. The 1,575-square-mile county is home to world-renowned wine and Michelin-starred restaurants, yet its laid-back vibe is perfect for ambling along a dirt road flanked by farms or cruising down a windy, redwood-lined highway as you drive to your next tasting.

Compared to neighboring Napa Valley, Sonoma wine country is varied, expansive, and spread out, with 18 distinct AVAs and dozens of detour-worthy small towns (including Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Guerneville, Glen Ellen, and Sonoma) within its bounds. This range is part of the fun: At a single winery, you might sample a pinot noir grown along the region’s foggy coast, followed by a robust zinfandel from further inland. But it also means you’ll want to pay attention to location if you plan to schedule more than one tasting—which we highly recommend you do.

Whether you want to taste some of the region’s best wines guided by an experienced sommelier or simply open a bottle and picnic among the vineyards, these are 20 of our favorite places to drink wine in Sonoma County.

Best for scenery and taking in the views

Aperture Winery faces west over a vineyard and low mountains.

Aperture Winery faces west over a vineyard and low mountains.

Photo by Jessie Beck

Aperture Cellars (Healdsburg)

A five-minute drive outside of Healdsburg’s town center will take you to the new vineyard-adjacent tasting room at Aperture Cellars; the tasting room opened in 2020 even though the brand has been producing wine since 2009. Here, visitors can sample the winery’s Bordeaux-style wines while lounging on the terrace’s oversized sofas or inside the bright, photography-lined tasting room (an homage to Aperture winemaker Jesse Katz’s photographer father, Andy Katz).—Jessie Beck, senior manager of video & SEO

Truett Hurst (Healdsburg)

In Dry Creek Valley, Truett Hurst is a lovely spot to sip a glass of punchy zinfandel—but also a model of sustainable viticulture. Here, an organic and biodynamic approach led by the passionate director of winemaking Ross Reedy results in a winery that operates in a holistic manner. The property also serves as a self-contained, self-sustaining farm that is home to goats, sheep, an insect habitat, and a restored creek full of coho salmon.—Tim Chester, deputy editor

Iron Horse Vineyards (Graton)

If your idea of a perfect afternoon is sipping a glass of bubbly alfresco, then head to Iron Horse, a family-owned, certified sustainable winery whose hilltop perch offers stunning views of the valley and vineyard below. Of course, we’re not here just for the views: Iron Horse is renowned for its sparkling wines—which have been served in the White House since 1985—as well as its pinot noirs and chardonnays.—Ami Kealoha, branded and sponsored content director

Merry Edwards (Sebastopol)

At the start of her career in 1974, Merry Edwards was one of California’s first women winemakers. In 1997 she began her own label, Merry Edwards Winery, and now operates under the leadership of winemaker Heidi von der Mehden. Also a certified sustainable winery, Merry Edwards is worth a stop for a flight of Russian River Valley wines while going off the beaten wine path in western Sonoma County. After your visit, meander over to nearby Willow Wood Market Cafe or Underwood Bar and Bistro to fuel up before your next tasting.—A.K.

Best for wine enthusiasts

Interior of Marine Layer Wines in Healdsburg

The design at Marine Layer Wines’ tasting room is almost (almost) as good as its wines.

Photo by Jessie Beck

Littorai Wines (Sebastopol)

Ted Lemon of Littorai got his start as a winemaker in Burgundy, although he has been making critically acclaimed pinot noirs and chardonnays in California since 1993. Littorai’s wines are highly sought after, but a visit to its tasting room is a guaranteed way to sample them—while also touring the winery’s self-sustaining farm and learning more about how it has been pioneering regenerative winemaking methods since the early ’00s.—J.B.

Marine Layer Wines (Healdsburg)

  • Open daily, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
  • Reservations not required, but available

At the new Marine Layer tasting room in downtown Healdsburg (which opened in 2021), guests are treated to both a visual and olfactory experience while sampling wines sourced from the Sonoma coast. In its fresh and youthful tasting room—designed by L.A.-based firm Hommeboys—stylish patrons sip on delicately balanced, slightly saline pinot noirs while lounging in yellow velvet chairs. As an added bonus, it’s open until 7 p.m. (most tasting rooms close at 5 p.m.) for wine by the glass.—J.B.

Gamba Vineyards (Windsor)

Gamba Vineyards is a historic estate located in the Russian River Valley AVA and an excellent example of Sonoma wine country’s heritage. The estate was first planted in 1900 by Cesare Barbieri but sold to Agostino Luigi Gamba shortly after Agostino immigrated from northern Italy—joining a number of Europeans who brought their love and tradition of wine to California. Now under the ownership of Agostino’s son Gus, Gamba Vineyards is known for exquisite and sought-after old vine zinfandels, which you can sample in its Windsor tasting room.—J.B.

Schermeister Winery (Glen Ellen)

Schermeister Winery takes a scientific approach to its wines (which makes sense, considering winemaker Robert Schermeister has a degree in biochemistry). But don’t think the tasting will go over your head. Schermeister not only conducts all of the tastings himself, but he also does a good job of distilling complex winemaking themes with guests in a way that’s easy to understand. You can get a taste of the winery’s products in its creekside tasting room, but supply is limited: The husband-and-wife-owned winery produces just 600 cases per year, all of which are native fermented and unfiltered wines.—Bailey Berg, associate editor

Best for picnics or laid-back hangs

Furthermore Wines (Sebastopol)

With tastings that focus exclusively on pinot noirs and a Russian River Valley location, it should be no surprise that Furthermore founders Bob Zeches and Chad Richard have a passion for pinot. If you too love this varietal, head to their Sebastopol vineyard to explore the subtle differences in pinots from throughout the region, including the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, and Petaluma Gap. Picnics and rounds of bocce ball are encouraged at Furthermore’s shady, laid-back courtyard (dogs welcome).—J.B.

Imagery Estate Winery (Glen Ellen)

Whether you sit at the outdoor picnic tables, belly up to the bar, or do a tasting with a gallery tour (Imagery Estate has some incredible artwork, some of which has made its way onto the bottles), you’ll enjoy this hip and busy winery in Glen Ellen. Second-generation winemaker Jamie Benziger—whose expertise won her the 2019 Best Women Winemaker in the International Women’s Wine Competition—of Benziger Family Winery helms this property, which makes some fairly uncommon wines, such as Italian varietal teroldego.—B.B.

BloodRoot (Healdsburg)

  • Open daily, 1 p.m.–7 p.m. (12 p.m.–7 p.m. on weekends)
  • Reservations not required, but available

A short walk from Healdsburg’s downtown plaza, BloodRoot is a casual, walk-in-friendly tasting room pouring both glasses and tastings of high-quality, affordable wines made from grapes sourced throughout Sonoma County. Although the somms won’t reveal exactly where the grapes come from (the secrecy is part of why BloodRoot can keep prices down), you won’t be disappointed.—J.B.

Best for a tasting with food

Charcuterie board at Flowers Winery

Don’t forget the snacks while tasting at Flowers Winery: It offers charcuterie boards as well as small-bite food pairings.

Photo by Jessie Beck

Flowers Winery (Healdsburg)

While the chance to try delicate pinot noirs and crisp chardonnays might be the main reason to spend an afternoon at Flowers Winery, the ambience and food are certainly close contenders. At its tasting room, which has an intentionally homey design, guests can cozy up on a plush sofa next to the fireplace in the winter or enjoy sunshine and vineyard views from the large terrace when the weather is warm. Don’t skip the food pairings, which feature seasonal items like apple and leek soup and heart of palm fritters to go along with each pour.—J.B.

Bricoleur Vineyards (Windsor)

Entering the sprawling 40-acre estate at Bricoleur Vineyards feels like you’re being transported onto a serene nature reserve, with the plant-lined ponds and flower gardens that surround its rustic modern tasting room. It’s an idyllic setting for tasting pinot noirs and chardonnays—or even a Sunday morning yoga session for an extra bit of zen. Food lovers won’t want to miss the three- or six-course food and wine pairings, which feature artfully plated dishes like tempura nori tacos topped with sustainably sourced caviar.—J.B.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards (Santa Rosa)

You may already be familiar with St. Francis wines, which are widely distributed throughout the United States, but a visit to its estate just east of Santa Rosa offers tasters the chance to sample bottles not commonly sold elsewhere. The best reason to visit (in our opinion) is for the food and wine experience: Led by knowledgeable wine educators, guests get a chance to not just savor a five-course lunch but also learn more about how to pair food and wine, and the ways in which food can enhance the wine-drinking experience.—J.B.

Abbot’s Passage Winery (Glen Ellen)

At Abbot’s Passage, wine drinkers can sit between rows of vines more than 80 years old while sipping organic wine. Winemaker Katie Bundschu (of Gundlach Bundschu winery) focuses on small production Rhône-style wines that are worth the trek—but hungry visitors won’t want to miss the next-level cheeseboards featuring locally sourced cheese, seasonal spreads, and house-cured meats. What you want to get out of the experience is entirely up to you, be that a tasting, a food pairing, or the opportunity to pop a bottle of zinfandel to drink while playing shuffleboard on a Saturday afternoon.—B.B.

Best for doing more than drinking wine

Bella Winery (Healdsburg)

Located in the Dry Creek River AVA, Bella Winery is best known for its small-batch zinfandels. But a visit here often means getting a chance to do more than drink wine. From adventurous vineyard tours (including one that kicks off your viticultural experience with a guided hike) to seasonal events (such as romantic candlelit tastings in the wine cave in winter or summertime pop-ups on the lawn with local restaurants, like Diavola Pizza), Bella offers a multitude of ways to go beyond the traditional tasting.—J.B.

Wine with a bit of history

Workers in vineyard at Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Gundlach Bundschu has been making wine since the 1800s.

Courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu

Dehlinger Winery (Sebastopol)

Founded in 1975, Dehlinger is an independent, family-owned vineyard in the Russian River Valley that produces wines exclusively from its estate vineyards. As you might expect from the location, the brand bottles excellent pinot noirs and chardonnays, but also two less expected varietals: cabernet sauvignon (more common in warmer Napa Valley) and syrah. Tastings here are small and intimate, giving visitors a chance to ask as much as they want about the wines from the warm and welcoming staff.—J.B.

Sangiacomo Family Vineyards (Sonoma)

A farming ranch since 1927, Sangiacomo has sold its fruit to everyone from Decoy Wines to Meiomi Wines over the years. It wasn’t until 2020 that Sangiacomo started selling wines under its own label—and we’re glad it did. Tastings happen from the comfy couches on a beautiful rock terrace overlooking 110 acres of chardonnay grapes on century-old vines.—B.B.

Gundlach Bundschu Winery (Sonoma)

Operated for 165 years across six generations, Gundlach Bundschu is the oldest family-owned winery in California. But what we love about it (other than the stellar cast of red wines) is just how laid-back it is. Guests can sit on the outdoor patio—which sits on a hill overlooking picturesque fields and a reservoir filled with ducks—and be served tastings by tie-dye-shirt-wearing staff, while local jam bands play cover songs and the winery dogs laze in the shade.—B.B.

Hook & Ladder (Santa Rosa)

Located on historic Olivet Road outside of Santa Rosa, Hook & Ladder is a family-owned vineyard founded in 2003 by husband and wife duo Cecil and Christine De Loach. Although currently run by grandson Jason De Loach, the name—as well as the fire station memorabilia throughout its rustic tasting room—pays homage to Cecil’s past career as a San Francisco firefighter. In this quirky setting, guests can settle in for a low-key tasting of old vine zinfandels and gewürztraminers.—J.B.

Jessie Beck is a San Francisco-based writer and senior manager of SEO and video at AFAR. She contributes to travel gear, outdoor adventure, and local getaway coverage.
More From AFAR