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Best picnic wineries near Sonoma

I will be staying in Napa all next week and will be visiting many of the wineries in the area. I have restaurants and wineries (reserved tastings) nailed down for that area. I have Sunday open and want to hit a couple of wineries in Sonoma. Ideally, I want to picnic at a couple around lunchtime. After reviewing previous posts I see the Sonoma Market is recommended for picnic supplies.

How does the picnic thing work? Do you still pay for tastings? Can you byow? Do you just purchase at the winery and drink on site?

I'm just used to the rules/regulations at my local wineries in Virginia and never been out to CA.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Most wineries that have a picnic area are open to those that are there for a tasting, regardless if you buy their wine. Opening a bottle from a different winery would be like going to Starbucks and sitting inside with your own cup of coffee would not be good form IMO. Don’t know of any specific regulations.
    Do you have a certain type of wine or wines you want to explore? Look at the wineries that have the style of wines that appeal to you see if they have a picnic area and buy their wine. There are many wonderful wineries to enjoy their wine that offer a lovely spot to picnic.

    Here are some threads to help guild you-
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423672
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/324078
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386481
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43676

    1. I like Gloria Ferrer (great view), Gundlach Bundschu and Ravenswood. Bring your own food, do a tasting, and buy a bottle or two to bring out to the picnic area. Most wineries will lend you glasses and all will happily uncork the wine for you.

      Don't know if there is any "official" regulation re: byow, but we were recently at Gundlach Bundschu for a birthday event - I brought a bottle of Gloria Ferrer as a gift and the winery guy was relieved that I wasn't going to open it; he said we could only drink Gun-Bun wines in the picnic area. I would agree that byow is not a hospitable move anyway.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Concetta

        Agree with both LoriSF and Concetta -- wineries greatly frown upon BYOW. Wineries provide picnic areas to enjoy THEIR wine. You will be asked to leave if you do otherwise.

      2. I love love love love Preston's grounds (and their wine). Their grounds are open to wander around on. Not sure about their regulations. You could probably get away with bringing your own wine but I highly reccomend buying wine there. Their tastings were either very very cheap or free. can't remember They also make their own bread. Mmm. Good for a picnic. They have lots of room to walk around. Green grass, trellises, a big veggie garden, a few ft cats wandering around, it's beautiful. Here's a link to their site:
        http://www.prestonvineyards.com/

        1. Gundlach Bundschu is my favorite for picnicing. The scenery is spectacular; the grounds are beautiful; the folks that work there are the friendliest of any winery I've visited and the wines are excellent!

          Have fun!

          Erin
          www.typeAdiversions.com

          1. I love the Russian River area of Sonoma. *Hop Kiln* and *Roccioli* have nice outdoor areas with picnic tables.

            There aren't laws that prohibit you from byow but it is just bad form to not purchase at the vineyard.

            *Ravenswood* is near Sonoma town square and has a shaded patio area with tables. Most places in Sonoma are pretty laid back and have outdoor picnic areas. Some have markets and some sell cheese and crackers to munch on.

            *Korbel* has a large patio area and they do tours of their cellers.

            *Benzinger* has a sunny space for picnicing and has bio-dynamic wines that are stunning, a personal favorite.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bubblet4me

              Proper spelling is Benziger...and they are also very near Jack London State Park.

            2. There are definitely laws against serving other people's wines. Wineries are licensed to market wine and have very strict regulations such as they can't act like a "restaurant" or bar...a non compete thing and very political in some valleys. No one wants to tell a guest they can't do something but their license is at risk. Btw, http://winequesters.com you can search by picnic areas. Cheers!

              In addition to the places already mentioned, I like Quivira (Dry Creek), Deloach as a new area (RRV), Kunde (Kenwood), Landmark (Kenwood). More on my blog.

              1. Here's a more recent and longer topic on the subject:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539624

                1. There are rules against bringing wine from another vendor to be consumed at the wineries as was noted earlier. And, if you choose a winery that has on-site food service, such as Ledson, then they want you to only consume foods that are purchased there.
                  Since you are staying in Napa, you will probably want to stick around Carneros or the town of Sonoma for your day in that area. In Sonoma, The Cheese Factory will be open and has all sorts of wonderful picnic supplies for you to put together. Bartholomew Park or Gund-Bun would be nice places to picnic near town, or you could simply enjoy a picnic right there in the square. Or, you could go out to Viansa or Jacuzzi in the Carneros region and enjoy their views and purchase food on site at either place.