Best producers of white wine
We are planning an upcoming trip to the Napa and Sonoma wineries. I have several places pinned down to visit for the red wines I enjoy. However, my husband can't really drink red wine. So, we would love to visit somewhere known for their Chardonnay or any other white wine. I appreciate any recommendations, as I don't know who's known for what.
I always enjoy the chardonnay at Iron Horse in Sonoma. It's a little out of the way, but the "tasting room" is outside their barn overlooking the hills there. A beautiful view, and they have champagne as well.
The best producers of white wines are probably in Sonoma for the most part. It depends on what you like and how much you want to spend. Places that are easy to visit (i.e., you can visit and taste without an appointment, even though they may not give your a tour) include Ferrari-Carano, Gary Farrell, or Ramey in Healdsburg (Sonoma), Flora Springs in St. Helena (Napa), Martinelli (known for their PNs and Zins, but they make some great Chards too) in Windsor (Sonoma) and Chateau St. Jean and Landmark, in Kenwood (Sonoma)
The very best producers make small quantities, are not open to the public or are available by appointment only.
Wine tastes are incredibly subjective. My votes for the "best" chardonnays in Napa/Sonoma go to Peter Michael in Calistoga and Kistler in Sonoma. I don't know the visiting/tasting policies of these wineries, but you can check their sites. Both wines are highly "French" in style, i.e. fairly dry vs oaky/fruity, expensive (>$50 at last look), and hard to find. Bang for the buck, I really like MacCrostie & Saintsberry in Carneros.
Clos du Val & Vine Cliff are a couple of favorites for Chardonnay.
Does "white wine" include sparkling wine, too? If so, get thee to J Vineyards & Winery for their food & wine pairing lunches. You can choose an all-white flight.
Mumm Napa valley is also a fun & covenient stop.
I would suggest perusing the white wine winners in the SF Chronicle's best of 2007 (as the selections are California-centric), and looking up the wineries for visitor info.
I also have a soft spot for the Sauvignon Blanc at Matanzas Creek in Sonoma. The winery itself is worth the trip.
I don't remember any tour when we visited (3x times now), but we just may have timed it poorly. It's just that the entire property is set back from the road, on a massive lavendar farm, with something like 25 different species of lavendar. The entire place looks (and smells) wonderful. Their terraced deck overlooking the valley is a beautiful spot to just have a tasting or to spend an entire afternoon. There was a Llama pen nearby that also provided some unexpected entertainment.
It's kind of a haul from highway 12, (head West from Glen Ellen on Warm Springs/Bennett Valley Road), but if you continue on that road, you'll find it's surprisingly close to the back side of Santa Rosa. As such, it's a great last stop before heading back to "civilization" via 101.