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Best Sonoma wineries you've never heard of


May 13th, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Best Sonoma wineries you've never heard of

I'm planning a Harvest Time visit to Sonoma County and looking for some fresh ideas of places for us to visit. It seems like I'm seeing the same names on the travel sites and we are ready to explore something different; spots that one doesn't read about in the books or see (often) on the multitude of forums....the places you never hear about.
Is anyone willing to share their "little known favorites"?
We enjoy most varietals, but aren't big fans of Petite Sirah or Pinot Noir, so if you know somewhere that will change our minds on those 2 we're willing to listen. We really like wines from the Rockpile and had in mind to focus a day or so on tasting those. Also very interested in learning more about the Rhone wines, in particular Grenache and Mouvedre.
Other favored wines are Barbera, Primotivo, Sangiovese, Albarino....we really will try most anything but these 4 seem to be difficult to come across.
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May 13th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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It's not Sonoma, but close....if Anderson Valley (Mendocino County) doesn't make you change your mind about CA Pinto Noir then probably nothing will. Lazy Creek, Goldeneye and Navarro are my picks there.
In Sonoma (Russian River Valley) Rohioli on Westside Road next to Hop Kilm is excellent. They also do an outstanding Sav. Blanc
For Petitie my favs are Foppaino just outside Healdsburg.
I know Artesa in Napa County makes a nice Albarino.
Another trip sometime to Paso Robles and the "Rhone Rangers" of that region is something you might think about.
A couple of others in Healdsburg area I like are Ferrari-Carano for many reds, but I'm not a big fan of their Pinot, and Hartford Family.
Enjoy the expereience.
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May 13th, 2012, 04:27 PM
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You seem to have a fairly good idea of the wines you want to try so why not google under those vintages. But be reminded: What groes in Southern France/the Med is not always found in Napa.

Chardonnay is my favorite white and it shines in the greater Napa/Sonoma area.

In Sonoma - a fun winery is Gundlach Bundschu. http://www.gunbun.com/
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May 13th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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In Sonoma, try visiting Beltane Ranch. They have a nice little Sauvignon Blanc happening there these days. The ranch looks like Brigadoon and is a Bed and Breakfast too.
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May 13th, 2012, 09:24 PM
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From WineSpectator 1.5 years ago...

"This year, one winery that stands out is Bedrock. The new releases from this small Sonoma winery are among the most impressive new wines I've tasted in a long time."

They have 22 acres, and 22 different varietals.

This is a link to Sonoma wineries.


It has enough details for you to ferret out what you like to drink. Click on the winery itself for a link to that winery.
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May 14th, 2012, 03:21 AM
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I'm from the area and have a list where I always take visitors:

This is the north county/dry creek area:

Truett Hurst - good wine, great people, great picnic area
Mazacco - wonderful wine
Armida - beautiful view, nice picnic area on deck
Wilson - Nice wine and beautiful patio
Seghesio - food and wine pairing is delicious

In Kenwood, you must to the mountain top tasting at Kunde - the view is spectacular

Have fun!
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May 14th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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If you enjoy Italian style wines, visit Jacuzzi in southern Sonoma. They specialize in Italian type wines. It's a beautiful spot, and the staff are super friendly.
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May 14th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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I love Truett Hurst too. Love the river behind the winery. Very nice people. Very good wines. Wished we'd bought some of their port.
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May 14th, 2012, 08:10 AM
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This is a nice place with lovely patio seating and helpful staff in tasting room. You can also purchase sandwiches, cheese, bread, condiments.

Their sangiovese is outstanding:

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May 14th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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There's an interesting event this weekend for the Sonoma Valley:


Lots of stuff going on this weekend, but this looks like a winner.
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May 14th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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otherfootloose, here are a few I bet you've never heard of, all in the Dry Creek area, and all excellent:

Unti- many varietals, all great, esp. the Grenache, the Syrah, and the Zin, but also Barbera, Sangiovese, and a great little port
Zichichi--outstanding zins, some tasted from the barrel
Kokomo- these are the pinots that I think will change your mind about CA pinot, but if they don't, you'll have excellent merlot and chardonnay and zin to console you

None of these have scenic tasting rooms or anything like that, it really is all about the wine. And they're all really small production, which means you're tasting something you're unlikely to see outside the state.

One last tip: to find those off-the-beaten-path wineries, ask the tasting room staff. IME they are generous to a fault in recommending other places to visit, because they're passionate about wine, period.

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May 14th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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May 14th, 2012, 07:20 PM
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Wow! Thanks to all for these responses. I am familiar with some of these, and its nice to have past rec's seconded by new sources...Unti, Truett Hurst and Viansa have been recommended by friends and are on "the list". We have actually been to Kokomo some years back, and liked their wine then...but are they still located in that little enclave on Dry Creek Road? I saw another address for them in Santa Rosa.
As for Bedrock....I would LOVE to try some of that wine, but unfortunately he does not offer tastings as his production is too small. I hear that a few restaurants have his product and if anyone knows who they are, PLEASE share!!
NewbE- I agree that asking the staff is an excellent way to find good places, and as a matter of fact that is how we heard about Truett Hurst and Kokomo. We always try to ask our servers for suggestions.

To repay your kindness in replying, let me tell y'all about some smaller places that we have been and loved...
Sonoma (town) and Valley- Haywood ( now has a tasting room in town but if you can get to the estate you should go), Audelssa ( Glen Ellen), Little Vineyards ( next to BR Cohn)

Russian River- Sunce, Harvest Moon ( both on Olivet Road)

Alexander Valley- FieldStone, Soda Rock

Dry Creek- Matrix, Frick, Passalaqua

If you think of any more places, please post...and oh yeah- does ANYBODY know where one can taste the Cabs from Remick Ridge?
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May 14th, 2012, 07:48 PM
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NewbE posted? Welcome back.

Kokomo is still in the little enclave - http://www.timbercrest.com/index.htm

Be sure to visit the Dry Creek Olive Co. I just poured the last of my olive oil from there and am sad...
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May 14th, 2012, 07:57 PM
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You're very welcome, otherfootloose, and thanks for the tips in return, I will put them on our (unrealistically long, but who cares?) list

Interestingly, Kokomo was the single most frequently mentioned winery on our recent visit, by staff at other wineries, that is. And yep, they are still in that little grouping. The winemaker and the grower are such nice guys.

Anyway, I thought of another recommendation, Merry Edwards in Sebastopol. She is one of the originals in the valley, and her pinots are very robust, spicy, and earthy.

Oh, and Preston on Dry Creek Road is a charmer, great wines (esp. their pinot gris, IMO), and they bake their own sourdough using decades-old starter, and bottle their own olive oil to go with it.

I could go on and on...
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May 14th, 2012, 08:32 PM
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The new WineSpectator, which just came out today, spends a lot of time on Sonoma. Actually, about 30 pages including all the ads.

Wineries, eats, lodging, and day trips. The caveat is that they tend to be high end. However, I would highly recommend Cafe Le Haye in Sonoma as a splurge place to go.

Get this in-depth review, which is totally up to date.

The issue has Sonoma on the cover and is dated June 15, but we all know how magazines go.
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May 16th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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If you go to Kokomo, also in the enclave is Papapietro Perry. They make outstanding Pinots (even though you said you aren't a fan, give them a try) and Zinfadels. also, in the same enclave - Amphora. Rick makes the full gamut. I heard Unti was very good, but we didn't get there. Arista up on River Road is gorgeous. You could also try Twomey. and St. Francis makes some excellent Zinfadels. If at St. Francis, try Chateau St. Jean - they make Cinq Cepages a nice blended wine. And if you want champagne - Iron Horse or Domaine Carneros
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May 16th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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Thank you all for your replies.
NewbE- Preston has been on my list for 2 years...and I think I may finally get there this trip. Does he still offer the special blend in the jug on Sundays? I'm going to be really bummed if I'm FINALLY there at the right time and he's quit doing that.
Rasta'- I just got my WS and have commenced reading...good overview of the area, don't you think? Though I have to admit I'm surprised they would recommend the regular tasting room at CSJ without mentioning the reserve room as it's head and shoulders above the tasting bar in the gift shop.

This has been fun and informative everyone- thanks so much for your input! I hope we can keep this going; I love to "talk Sonoma"!

Oh, and starrs, thanks for the olive oil tip.
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May 16th, 2012, 09:52 AM
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Thanks Lori.
Hey, meant to ask, has anyone been to Kachina in Dry Creek?
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May 16th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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ofl, I don't know about the jug situation at Preston since we weren't there over a weekend--I hope you get to check it out.

I thought of another: MacRostie. You have to make an appointment, and the tasting room is really a conference room in their warehouse, but--you can tour the winemaking facility, talk to the oenologists, and enjoy great chardonnay and pinot (we just got a shipment of the pinot rose, but haven't sampled it yet).

A "wine trip" is my favorite kind of trip!
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