Nearly fifty wineries are scattered across the Sonoma Valley but there’s a good concentration in a well-signposted group a mile east of Sonoma Plaza, down East Napa Street. Some are within walking distance but often along quirky back roads, so take a winery map from the tourist office and follow the signs closely.
Bartholomew Park Winery This lavish Spanish Colonial building is surrounded by some great topiary in the gardens and extensive vineyards. The wines are relatively inexpensive vintages that appeal to the pocket and palate alike. There’s a good little regional history museum, too, that also provides an introduction to local viticulture. Tasting $10.
Benziger Family Winery Beautiful vineyard perched on the side of an extinct volcano next to Jack London State Park. There are five or six daily tram tours through the fields ($15) with
an emphasis on viticulture, or a self-guided tour introducing trellis techniques. Tasting $10–20; tour $40. Daily 10am–5pm. Tours 11.15am, 12.45pm & 2.15pm.
Buena Vista Carneros. Oldest and grandest of the wineries, founded in 1857, whose wine has re-established a good reputation after some slim years. The tasting room, a restored state historical landmark, features a small art gallery. Tasting $10 including glass, tours from $30.
Ravenswood Noted for its “gutsy, unapologetic” Zinfandel and advertising a “no wimpy” approach to the wine business, this unpretentious winery is particularly friendly and easy-going. Well-known to locals for its summer BBQs. Tasting $15, tour $15.