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favorite little gem winery in Sonoma?

We'll be in Healdsburg, Sonoma on a Monday-Tuesday at the end of February. Can anyone recommend a gem of a winery to visit? We like smaller wineries with excellent wine and no tour buses! Free tastings are a plus. Any recommmendations?

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  1. OK, I'll admit I am not a big fan of the recent trend of tasting rooms opening in urban areas (for me half of the fun is driving the countryside) but I do recommend Thumbprint in the Healdsburg town square. It is across the street from Cyrus.

    1. Check out Hop Kiln and Rochioli.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChefGirl412

        Hop Kiln is great plus they have outstanding zin. Also head over to the Dry Creek area, if you are a zin fan this is the road to be on.

        1. Try this local favorite for dinner, it's called Ravenous, here's a link, you won't be disappointed!

          1. It is 30 minutes away in Kenwood, but KAZ (www.kazwinery.com) meets all your crieteria and will exceed all your expectations.

            1. Check out Inspiration Vineyards, it's a husband and wife and they make a French style Chardonnay that is wonderful (not too oaky). His old vine Zin is very good too. Small batch producer, was recently selected by Andrea Immer for her wine club. You have to call ahead to make an appointment because he doesn't have an actual tasting room. He pours tastings right next to the aging barrels, really cool to see the actual wine making process up close. And Jon is a super nice guy who is really passionate about wine.


              1. We really dig Armida (http://www.armidawinery.com)- in the Dry Creek area. The view *cannot* be beat and we're big fans of the ir Chardonnay (Keefer Ranch) and Poizin.

                1. David Coffaro is unique. The owner-winemaker is pretty eccentric.


                  1. Joseph Swan! wonderful zins and syrahs and the winemaker is normally there pouring and telling stories. it's not big on ambience; but you won't be disappointed. also, love Iron Horse. It's an outdoor tasting room and their sparklings are the perfect way to start a day of tasting.
                    If you go to Thumbprint on The Square; stop by Selby too. Suzie is making a lot of wonderful wine. make sure to taste her dessert wine, Sweet Cindy. Her place is next to Barn Diva which i highly recommend for one of your meals.

                    Healdsburg is one of the best places in Sonoma; you are going to have a wonderful trip.

                    1. Coturri.


                      not everyone's idea of boring and consistent, yet occasionally brilliant.. Just grapes.

                      1. I would vote against Hop Kiln; It is a beautiful setting but the wine has been pretty bad at times. There are new owners now but I doubt that their vintages are being poured yet. Try Yoakim Bridge for some excellent wine. Coffaro is also fun in quirky sort of way.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: SFDude

                          I say stop there anyway for the setting and see for yourselves about the wine. There's no limit on stops :-)

                        2. While I cannot recommend a specific winery, I would encourage you to drive west out of Healdsburg in Dry Creek Road. There are 20-25 smaller, independent wineries (Rafanelli, Preston, Dry Creek, Pedroncelli, etc.) out that way. There will be few, if any, tour buses.
                          It is a beautiful spot as well.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: DavidT

                            I have to second this recommendation. The Dry Creek Road area was our favorite part of our trip to Sonoma.

                            We had an excellent lunch at Ravenous (which someone above mentioned).

                            If anyone is looking for a place to stay in Sonoma--we stayed at the Gaige House Inn on three separate occasions and it was amazing every time.

                            1. re: DavidT

                              Great recommendation as long as you know that the "Dry Creek Road" mentioned above includes Lambert Bridge Road and West Dry Creek Road. A look at a map of the area will make it all clear.

                            2. Has anyone mentioned Michel Schlumberger??? they only do tasting at 10am and 2pm. Try the Pinot Blanc, the Cabs are amazing.

                              If you don't care about seeing a vineyard, call Siduri. they are in a warehouse; but Adam Lee churns out the best and some consider them a "cult".

                              1. Porter Creek, for Old World-style pinot that you can taste in a quaintly cobwebby wooden shed. The other visitors when I went were a quartet of bicyclers from Berkeley, a blond Nordic hipster couple and, and that's about it. Nearby are Davis Bynum and Moshin, which are reputable, though Bynum just got bought by some huge conglomerate.

                                About Porter Creek: I would say they are delicious now but they're breathers, both the pinot and syrah. Need either decanting at this stage or just aging. Very cellarable, though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                  My wife and I really enjoyed tasting at Porter Creek. At Moshin, we also bought wine made by their winemaker on his own, I believe: a Banyan Gewurztraminer and Viognier. Lately, at the General's Daughter Restaurant in Sonoma, we tasted a very nice David Noyes Pinot, which is now produced at Moshin's new facilities.

                                2. Only two days? We live in northern Sonoma County and a rainy winter day is our favorite time to get out and around. Because you will be here in February and during the week, you will have things pretty much to yourselves so don't be afraid to pick a winery you pass "just 'cause" in addition to the many good suggestions already posted. Even if you don't stop somewhere, West Dry Creek Road (distinct from Dry Creek Road) is one of my all time favorite drives. It is like going back in time 75 years. Hope you have a great trip and let us know how it went.

                                  1. For a long time (since their first release in the early 90's) my favorite wines after tasting many others in that great area have been from Pezzi King. They used to have the tasting facility that's now Passalacqua but now have only their winery that's wonderfully situated on a hillside on the west side of West Dry Creek Road. Because of the one-lane aspect of the road to the winery it's by appointment only, but it's worth it. I love their Zinfandel, and I've always thought their very good Cabernet was designed for Zin lovers.


                                    A few pics of Pezzi King from the barrel tasting event last March.