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Best Bets for Sonoma Valley Wineries

Wine Tasting

Deerfield Ranch Winery, Kenwood. You have to walk deep into the underground caves here to find the tasting room, where you'll sip "clean" red wines low in histamines and sulfites.

Loxton Cellars, Glen Ellen. Go retro at Loxton, where the personable owner-winemaker is often on the premises and the experience is down-home low-tech.

Walt Wines, Sonoma. At this tasting room just north of Sonoma Plaza, it's all Pinot Noir all the time, with grapes sourced from Oregon's Willamette Valley to California's Central Coast.

Winery Touring

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen. On this winery's tram tour, you'll learn about its unique microclimates and deep commitment to biodynamic farming principles.

Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma. On some days, 19th-century wine pioneer Count Agoston Haraszthy (played by a local actor) leads tours.

Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards, Kenwood. The Mountain Top Tastings passenger-van tour winds 1,400 feet above the valley floor. On a shaded deck you'll enjoy memorable vistas while sipping reserve wines.

Setting

Bartholomew Park Winery, Sonoma. Come for the wines and stay for the grounds, which include a woodsy picnic spot and miles of hiking trails.

Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood. Something's always in bloom in this winery's formal gardens, inspired by their rustic counterparts in Italy and France.

Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma. The hills of "GunBun" are alive with the sounds of happy picnickers all summer; year-round the vineyard views enchant, as do the sunsets.

Food-Wine Pairing

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, Glen Ellen. Distinguished Chardonnays, Syrahs, and age-worthy Cabs are paired with locally made artisanal cheeses at this laid-back winery's entertaining and educational tasting event.

St. Francis Winery, Kenwood. The executive chef's small-dish pairings are among the Sonoma Valley's better deals. Local cheeses and meats are served by the fireplace in winter and on a patio in summer.

Updated: 07-2013

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