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Can't-miss wineries around Sonoma?

I'll be visiting Healdsburg soon and want to taste some stellar wines. I'll definitely hit Rochioli and maybe Bella (yummy zins) or J (good food pairings). Anywhere else? It's been a while since I did the Russian River wine road... Cheers!

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  1. You could always go to Martinelli, but the high end stuff isn't available for sale or tasting. But they should have the G&L Zin, the Pinot Reserve and some others.

    One I'd make an appointment at is Ramey, especially if you like wonderful Chardonneys. But they are appointment only. give them a call they have a website.

    1. Susie Selby -- just off the square near Barn Dive, she has not had her wines showcased in the White House on a a number of occasions, but her Chardonnay was so good that Robert Redford hired her to make his Sundance label Chard...

      1. Try Limerick Lane (Southern end of Healdsburg, E of the 101) and Frick (Northern end, W of the 101). Double bonus if the big Lab comes out to greet you at Frick. I also like Murphy Goode, which is bigger than both but which has some good bargains and a broader menu.

        1. Call ahead for an appointment at Rafanelli - well known for not being the friendliest winery around, but excellent Zin and Cab at what I think is a good value for the quality.

          1. Great wines at pasalaqua winery and just down the road is a little tasting room for Papapietro Perry. Really nice reds.

            1. Just returned from Healdsburg. Here's a quick wine report of our experience:
              Went up to Preston which had been recommended to us (organic winery, set in a scenic farm area with bocce and picnic and chickens, etc.). Place was quaint but we did not care for any of the wine (too acidic or something). We are NOT very picky.
              Wachichi (sp?) right around the corner from Preston. THis place only does Zin's so far. Just opened. The zin was great the view was spectacular. They are running out of wine though, so have to get there quickly.
              Pedroncelli on canyon road was highly recommended to us from several people but we weren't able to get there
              For us, the good thing about Healdsburg was that we could do tasting on the square and not have to drive anywhere--the wineries below all have tasting rooms on or around the square
              Tandem (in Bovolo marketplace)--nice selection of wines
              DaVero in Bovolo--did not care for their wines
              Philip Staley in Bovolo, thought these were okay (but some were a bit strange)
              Thumbprint--cool atmosphere, fun staff and good, inexpensive wines. We bought a cab franc and a zin there. They recommended we go to Sunce and Selby.
              Sunce--we loved this place. THe wine was good (I don't know that it was spectacular) but we liked almost everything they poured and they poured generously. We ended up with half a case, heavy on the zins and a good cabernet as well. The guy there is a riot--we had a great time just chatting with him. He also recommende Selby to us, but we never made it
              Mayo--this was recommended to us from a chowhound post. We did the wine/tasting and while we enjoyed the food (it comes from Zin, the restaurant next door) we were not very enamoured with the wines.
              Gallo--we tried this because several people had said that GAllo was making some good high end wines. Unfortunately, we did not get to taste any of these.

              Hope you find something good

              1. Across the valley from Bella is Dutcher Crossing Winery. Beautiful view and great wines. Its on Dry Creek rd before Ferrari Carano. Also up the street try Sbrigia winery. Its a new tasting room with good wines and very nice people.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dglove

                  Correct spelling is Sbragia. Yes, nice people. Some good red wine.

                2. Santa Rosa press democrat just did a tasting of Zins in the Healdsburg/Santa Rosa area. It might be worth while to take a look at their comments. They list each winery from which the Zin comes from and rate it. Their top rated was Robert Rue Winery.
                  I am going to attempt to paste the URL here

                  1. Last summer we spent a day up there and found a bunch of neat little small wineries on and around Olivet Rd., just west of Santa Rosa. Take River Rd. exit off 101...our favorite winery there was DeLoach. I also love Ferari-Carano, as much for the place as for the wines.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: WCFoodie

                      >our favorite winery there was DeLoach<

                      I stopped into DeLoach a few weeks ago and was pretty well blown away by their higher-end Pinots and Zins. I must have tasted 8 or 9 of those and I don't think I've ever liked so many wines so much at a tasting.

                    2. My suggestion is to go the first weekend in March, spend the whole weekend and do the Russian River Wind Road - do them all! I particularly remember Bella, Michell-Schlumberger and Fritz. But there are bunches of others. Take your time and enjoy them all - particularly some of the smaller ones that group together.

                      1. Make a reservation at A Rafanelli EARLY. Their cab is awesome. They supposedly used to own like half of healdsburg, if that says anything to you.

                        Michel Schlumberger is one of my defaults in the area--well crafted wines, decent prices, and cozy friendly atmosphere.

                        1. oh and Quivira's Zins are good too

                          1. One of my favorites is Christopher Creek (its near J on Limerick lane). They have great Zins (Russian River and Dry Creek) and really good cabs (as well as Chard, Viognier and often a port). Also, on Olivet Lane is Sunce. They have a a wide variety (mostly red) and are very friendly.

                            1. Stryker which is on the way to Murphy Goode in Alexander Valley makes an excellent zin. The best bet for the Russian River Valley is the upcoming barrel tasting weekend(s). A Rafanelli will be open to the public(though the crowds will be crazy).

                              1. If you want to see a winery as it is starting out, meet the owner/winemaker and enjoy a very casual, unpretenious visit and tasting, try Loxton winery. It is on the way up the highway (not 101) from Sonoma. It's not hard to find if you are not zooming. Chris is from Australia, and it pays to read the signs on the drive into the winery. My favourite was "Ayers Hill". It will give you an idea of his approach to life and enjoyment of wine. His Syrah is fabulous and Zinfandel delicious.

                                1. Three of us went to the Healdsburg-area barrel tasting today. We only hit a few wineries, but the stars were Pezzi King (not on the list and by reservation only this weekend) and Bella. I've always thought Pezzi King made about the best zins in the area and I still think so. And their location, now at the actual winery and owner's house, and gracious staff as well as great wines are well worth making an appointment for. We were also taken by Bella's zins; very good.

                                  http://pezziking.com http://bellawinery.com

                                  A few pics of Pezzi King: http://ruthvenphotos.com/winecountry/...

                                  1. Hey Diablita,

                                    I think Everett Ridge is making your wine... They have a new Diablita out in Healdsburg California... I got the photos from their website..
                                    If this link doesn't work it's http://EverettRidge.com

                                    Anyway, they also now have Esterlina wines there which are from the Mendocino / Anderson Valley area which are outstanding.

                                    1. I spent Saturday in Healdsburg and my favorite wineries were Rafanelli, Unti and Ridge.
                                      For a different sort of tasting, Family Wineries was fun - 6 different labels poured from one tasting room.
                                      Here's a list of all the places we visited: