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Scribe Winery, Sonoma
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 10 best wineries in Sonoma

The best wineries in Sonoma offer a tasting experience as gorgeous as their wines

By Lauren Sheber, Shoshi Parks and Sarah Medina
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Napa may get all the attention, but Sonoma is where Northern California locals go to relax in the sun. In fact, if Napa is all wine-fueled luxury – with its chic wine tastings and fancy wine tours – then think of Sonoma as its laid back cousin – the one who shows up with a picnic blanket and an unassuming bottle of award-winning vino before a hike. In fact, you've probably already tasted some of Sonoma's best cabs, merlots and sauvignon blancs in restaurants across the country, but there’s nothing like a day in Wine Country or, better yet, an overnight stay at one of the finest Sonoma hotels, to make you fall in love with this beautiful land. Whether you prefer rustic-chic tasting rooms, historic chateaus or brisk vineyard hiking, you’ll find it at the best wineries in Sonoma.

RECOMMENDED: The best wineries in Napa

Best wineries in Sonoma

1. Donum Estate

Bars Wineries

Donum Estate has two primary focuses: aged pinot and contemporary art. Wine tastings here are thoughtful, private affairs which include samples of pinot noir during a stroll around the 200-acre estate. The dichotomy between the natural surroundings—150 year old olive trees, vineyards, and an organic farm—and museum-worthy sculptures is stunning. Curated and owned by Allan and Mei Warburg, the collection features 30 largescale works by well-known artists from around the world including Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, Keith Haring, and Tracey Emin. Appointment only.

2. Gundlach Bundschu

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Just down the road from the haute hipsters of Scribe Winery lies Gundlach Bundschu, California’s oldest family-owned winery. With a century-old pedigree and a sixth-generation vintner at the helm, Gun Bun is a lively and idyllic place to taste; the 320-acre property is shaded by towering olive trees and bordered by a scenic pond. Gun Bun is also known for its weekend concerts, including the annual Huichica music fest (2021 dates have not been announced). Don’t miss the pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, as well as a refreshing gewürztraminer. Appointment only

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Hamel Family Wines
Hamel Family Wines
Photograph: Courtesy Hamel Family Wines

3. Hamel Family Wines

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Funded in 2014 by a family of University of Wisconsin alums—hence the jaunty badger gracing all the labelsthe Hamel estate is a real gem with a sleek, modern tasting room designed by Gould Evans architecture. The space features 18-foot windows with views of Sonoma Mountain, an outdoor deck overlooking 100-year-old olive trees and an infinity pool, and a 12,000-square-foot wine cave. The vineyard employs organic and biodynamic methods, producing wine in limited quantities. Tastings can include cheese and charcuterie pairings all the way up to a four-course meal. Appointment only

Scribe Winery, Sonoma
Scribe Winery, Sonoma
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Scribe Winery

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Scribe Winery produces vibrant, terroir-driven wines. The property is managed by fourth-generation wine-makers and brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani, and is known for its cool, laid-back vibe which attracts a young, hip crowd. There is no fancy tasting room here; when you arrive, you'll be given a blanket and encouraged to find a spot for yourself in the shade of a tree or at a nearby picnic table. Snack on fruit and nuts grown on the property, and the wine will come to you in the form of chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling and, perhaps the most unique—and delicious—of the bunch, sylvaner. Appointment only

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Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma
Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma
Photograph: Courtesy Hanzell Vineyards

5. Hanzell Vineyards

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This scenic, historic winery originally founded in 1953 by ambassador James D. Zellerbach, who returned to the US inspired after a sojourn in Burgundy, is known for standout pinot noir and chardonnay. Perched at the southern tip of the Mayacamas range, the vineyard (owned by the de Byre family since 1975) offers bird’s-eye views of Sonoma Valley and the San Pablo Bay. Though the facilities date back to 1950s, the small-batch wines are produced using state-of-the-art technology. Appointment only

Viansa Sonoma Winery
Viansa Sonoma Winery
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Viansa Sonoma Winery

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For a private tasting worth splurging for, reserve one of Viansa’s private outlooks, which range from intimate nooks to pillow-decked open-air cabanas. From the front terrace, you can gaze out over the estate vineyards, replanted in 2015 with 10 acres of pinot noir and 15 acres of chardonnay. The hilltop property includes 33 acres of vineyards in all, plus nearly 100 acres of picturesque wetlands, a gourmet market and a wood-fired pizza oven for all manner of food to pair with flights of pinot, chardonnay and sangiovese. Tastings are appointment only

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Buena Vista Winery
Buena Vista Winery
Photograph: Courtesy Buena Vista Winery

7. Buena Vista Winery

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The oldest commercial winery in California, Buena Vista's historic charm remains—as do the original Champagne cellars, now used as wine production facilities. The Carneros grounds feature a museum of 19th-century wine tools (more interesting than it sounds), a stylish lounge devoted to French bubbly, and tranquil picnic grounds. The winery’s location at the top of the San Pablo Bay means a diverse variety of microclimates, ideal for varietals ranging from merlot and syrah to chardonnay and pinot. Request a cave tasting, which concludes with samples drawn straight from the barrel.

8. Three Sticks

Bars Wineries Sonoma

Situated in the historic Vallejo-Castanada adobe, this downtown Sonoma winery is a haven for design lovers. Althouth the building received a grand facelift by San Francisco interior design legend Ken Faulk, it remains one of the few structures from California’s early Spanish Period. Three Sticks’ produces small batches from wines grown on various local vineyards. Sip it while you can—the winery only produces 4,000 cases a year, and much of it sells out before leaving Sonoma Square. Appointment only

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Seghesio Family Vineyards
Seghesio Family Vineyards
Photograph: Courtesy Seghesio Family Vineyards

9. Seghesio Family Vineyards

Bars Wineries Healdsburg

One of Sonoma's oldest wineries, Seghesio Family Vineyards is known for producing a wide variety of zinfandels from sustainably-planted vineyards across Sonoma County. Taste a flight of their bright, bold vintages at the Italian estate's grand tasting room along with food pairings. In the Old Vine Cellar Lounge downstairs, sip Seghesio's best at a seated tasting surrounded by the winery's original redwood tanks. Appointment only

10. Ravenswood Winery

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Founded in 1976 by Joel Peterson, a scientist and microbiologist with a side gig as a wine consultant, Ravenswood made a name for itself with zinfandel and, these days, Peterson is known as the 'godfather of zin.' The winery's fruity, full-bodied wines – which also include chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon – are produced from grapes harvested from throughout wine country. Sample flights from an adirondack chair on the terrace, tour the barrel room, or taste rare bottles in the library cellar.

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