Top Sonoma Wineries
In 2009, still in his 20s, celebrated winemaker Jesse Katz started Aperture, whose focus is single-vineyard Cabernets and Bordeaux-style red blends. The architecture of Katz's Russian River Valley tasting room, which opened in 2020, riffs off photography, a nod to his dad and winery partner, Andy Katz, a world-famous photographer.
Distinguished producers purchase grapes farmed by the Chenoweth family, whose ancestors settled northwest of Sebastopol in the mid-1800s. Some grapes are held back for the Chenoweth label's Chardonnay, rosé, and Pinot Noir wines. Family members, including winemaker Amy Chenoweth, often conduct the down-home tastings.
The Donum Estate
Single-vineyard Pinot Noirs exhibiting "power yet elegance" made the reputation of this Carneros District winery also known for smooth, balanced Chardonnays. The three dozen–plus large-scale, museum-quality outdoor sculptures by the likes of Anselm Kiefer add a touch of culture to a visit.
Iron Horse Vineyards
Proof that tasting sparkling wine doesn't have to be stuffy, this winery on the outskirts of Sebastopol pours its selections outdoors, with tremendous views of vine-covered hills that make the top-notch bubblies (and a few still wines) taste even better.
Jordan Vineyard and Winery
A winery with a knack for discerning hospitality, Jordan produces a single Russian River Valley Chardonnay and an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that perennially rank high on lists of best restaurant wines nationwide.
This winery's tasting room, in a restored stone farm building, is hardly Sonoma County's grandest, but the Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Sirah are arguably among the entire state's best. If you're curious about Zinfandel, don't miss Limerick Lane, whose oldest vines date back a century-plus.
Oenophiles will be familiar with Ridge, which produces some of California’s best Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. You can taste wines made from grapes grown here at Ridge’s Healdsburg vineyards, and some from its neighbors, along with wines made at its older Santa Cruz Mountains winery.
Robert Young Estate Winery
Guests at this longtime grower's hilltop tasting room enjoy views down the Alexander Valley while sipping Chardonnay and other whites and Bordeaux-style reds. The first Youngs settled in Geyserville in 1858; the entire history of local agriculture unfolded on this historic site.
"Only one wine can be your best," was cofounder Justin Meyer's rationale for Silver Oak's decision to focus solely on Cabernet. The winery pours its two yearly offerings (one from Napa, the other from Sonoma) in a glass-walled eco-friendly tasting room in the Alexander Valley.
Three Sticks Wines
The chance to make Pinots and Chardonnays from Three Sticks's prized Durell and Gap's Crown vineyards lured Bob Cabral from his longtime post at an exclusive Sonoma County winery. Guests taste Cabral's gems, made with Ryan Prichard, at the lavishly restored Adobe, west of Sonoma Plaza.