Love red wine and headed to wine country? Wondering which wineries to visit? Sonoma County is home to more than 250 wineries, many of which are open to the public for wine tasting. White signposts filled with names of different wineries dot Sonoma County and the tasting rooms are often close enough together to walk between them. This can make it hard for visitors to narrow down the choices. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the shear number of wineries and aren’t sure where to start your wine tour, we’re here to help! Here are our suggestions for a great sampling of red wine. We’ll start with Pinot Noir, then taste a wonderfully juicy Zinfandel, a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and finally, we’ll round out our wine tour with a lovely, jammy Late Harvest Zinfandel. While there is a little bit of driving required, you could easily visit all these wineries in a one day wine country tour. Cheers!
We start our tour of wine country red wine at the lovely Hanna Winery and Vineyards. In many ways this is quintessential Wine Country. For one thing, there’s no need to worry about having a long drive to begin your wine tour. The winery tasting room is actually located inside Santa Rosa city limits! The tasting room is also right in the vineyard where Hanna Winery grows their Pinot Noir – making this the perfect place to taste this delightful Russian River Valley red wine. Their 2008 Pinot Noir, $35 has a rather big taste with a clean finish after a burst of cherry. We’re sure it will make a delightful start to your Sonoma County red wine tour!
From the Alexander Valley, we continue our tour of Sonoma County red wine further north and stop for lunch and a taste of Zinfandel in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. As you turn off West Side Road, you immediately start to climb up the long driveway as it winds its way up to the tasting room. At the top, Armida Winery is set in a domed building with an enormous picture window to take in the stunning views. Just outside, their huge deck is shaded by mature oaks and boasts spectacular views out over Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. This is the perfect spot to taste one of the big, bold Zinfandel wines for which the area is famous. While they produce several excellent wines and we own many of their red wines in particular, our favorite is the Maple Valley Zinfandel. Bring your picnic lunch, sit back and relax at one of the tables on the winery deck. This is the perfect place to soak in the wine country vistas while you sip award winning red wine and savor the California sunshine.
When you’re done soaking up the rays and the views out over Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, continue your wine tour by heading just down the road to Michael-Bernard Winery. While it lacks the valley views of Armida Winery, this tasting room is surrounded by vineyards. The winery is a family affair, with different members contributing their own labels of fine wine. Though the tasting room may be a newer addition to Sonoma County wine country, the vineyards behind the wines aren’t. The wine makers have just decided to start making their own wine, rather than solely selling the grapes to other wine makers. After tasting the results of their efforts, we’re very happy they made the switch! The 2006 Orsi Papale Cabernet Sauvignon, $40 won a gold medal at the 2010 Sonoma County Harvest Fair and we can see why! You may well find yourself leaving with a bottle of this big, bold, delicious Cabernet with its lovely finish that lingers on the palate. We’re not sure just a taste of this fabulous red wine is really enough!
Our Sonoma County red wine tour is almost complete. Having tasted a Pinot Noir at Hanna Winery, a Zinfandel at Armida Winery and a Cabernet Sauvignon at Michel-Bernard Winery we naturally round out our wine tour with a dessert wine. To taste one of the best in wine country, we head north to Cloverdale. Fritz Winery sells its Late Harvest Zinfandel for $35 for a half bottle – and its worth every penny! This is a family winery and is currently run by the son of its founder – typical Sonoma County Wine Country! Sit out on their beautiful patio, soak in the stunning views out over wine country, and savor the jammy, fruitiness of this fabulous red wine. It pairs beautifully with the wine infused brownies with which they serve it. Both are sure to leave a sweet taste in your mouth as you end your wine country tour of the best Sonoma County red wine.