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East Coaster Looking for Good Private Guide to Help Tour Sonoma Wineries

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jscott Jul 3, 2009 09:32 AM

Hi,

Taking a trip to SF in late July / early August. I am a huge fan of Sonoma Wines (especially Sonoma Coast Pinot's)... I am looking for recommendations for a great private guided day tour of some wineries in Sonoma. Anyone know of anyone good?

Thanks.

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  1. Dennis S RE: jscott Jul 3, 2009 10:46 AM

    I'm in DC but had a nice gift of a tour of St. Supery after a night in Sonoma. Still one of our faves. Cline is down the road from there and we love their wines, too. Didn't stop at Clines, though, since after SS, we stopped at Mumm to see a friend and after both of those, were ready to get back to SF.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S
      Melanie Wong RE: Dennis S Jul 3, 2009 02:44 PM

      Note that neither St Supery nor Mumm are in Sonoma County.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Dennis S RE: Melanie Wong Jul 3, 2009 06:11 PM

        My bad. I only know we were given a wonderful week of decadence for a honeymoon. On top of a week at Hotel Monaco in SF, we had a night at a resort in Sonoma, followed by the Mumm and St. Supery visits. Just wanted to add what I could.

    2. v
      vday RE: jscott Jul 3, 2009 03:56 PM

      Try this link:
      http://www.winecountrysafari.com/
      This is a very small company. I have heard really great things about Bruce's knowledge of wines and small wineries that produce superior product. He will do a custom tour designed to fit your particular interest, is very personable, and lives locally.

      1. m
        MDPeters RE: jscott Jul 3, 2009 07:51 PM

        not on the map, www.kasuariwine.com, great sc pinot noirs and memorable napa cabs. in sonoma county. Cheers
        Michael

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          originalfig RE: jscott Jul 4, 2009 12:03 PM

          Sorry I don't know of a guide to help you....But one thing to keep in mind is that there are few wineries actually located in the appellation of Sonoma Coast - mostly there are just vineyards. The wines from there are mostly made by wineries located elsewhere in Sonoma County and even farther out (Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Tandem, Gary Farrell, Kosta Browne, Williams Selyem etc.) Sadly the latter two are not open to the public at all- perhaps a very connected guide could get you in but doubtful, they have no staff to entertain visitors really.

          FYI Marimar Torres, in Green Valley (a sub-region of the Russian River), makes a charming SC PN and they do a lovely tapas and wine pairing at their little estate winery near Forestville, I was there the other day and highly recommend it. Also, on your way out to the coast, Rochioli, Gary Farrell and Moshin Vineyards all have tasting rooms on Westside Road with lovely RR Pinots.

          1 Reply
          1. re: originalfig
            eatzalot RE: originalfig Jul 4, 2009 12:48 PM

            Further to originalfig's good advice, I'll add that wineries "open to the public," with staff to entertain visitors, are by far the exception rather than the rule, in my experience visiting wine regions around US and Europe. Including some important but less-publicized California AVAs including Santa Cruz Mountains and the El Dorado - Amador County continuum. Most high-quality wineries, worldwide, are small family businesses without the resources for dedicated tasting rooms or staff. It happens that the Napa Valley and vicinity built up a large tourist industry, including magazine articles and TV features, and some of its well-known properties have had deep pockets behind them since about the 1980s, but this all sometimes leads visitors to assume it's typical of winemaking regions, whereas in some of them it's almost unheard-of.

            That said, many wineries "closed to the public" welcome appointments from serious customers who follow or are knowledgeable about their wines (not just looking for a pleasant place to drink some wine). That's how it was even in much of the Napa Valley, before the big corporate investments a couple decades ago -- winemakers might personally welcome and taste with visitors who made the trek to a favorite winery the public mostly hadn't heard of. A polite letter, phone call, etc. might arrange a winery appointment, and as originalfig mentioned, personnel with local connections can greatly help.

          2. Dennis S RE: jscott Jul 5, 2009 05:18 PM

            Shoulda thought of this before, but I'll check with my friend whose Mom works at Mumm. They might know.

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              originalfig RE: jscott Jul 13, 2009 09:10 PM

              JScott - I think I may have found someone for you! I just got friended on FB by someone I don't know, but who seems to know a ton of people I know in the wine industry. According to his bio, this person provides private tours of boutique Napa Valley wineries, and used to purchase and review wines for Dean & Deluca and Vinfolio. This is exactly the kind of background I'd look for in looking for a private guide, as the buyers at high end specialty retailers are the ones who have all the inside connections. Here's his FB url, good luck. http://profile.to/dougwilder/

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                originalfig RE: jscott Jul 13, 2009 09:12 PM

                Ps I'm sure someone like this can hook you up in Sonoma as well

                1. s
                  SteveG RE: jscott Jul 14, 2009 10:29 AM

                  As mentioned elsewhere, Sonoma Coast brick and mortar wineries are few and far between. Almost all wineries are happy to give you an appointment to taste, even if they don't have a special "tasting room," and in my opinion those wineries will be a much better value. You could probably spend as much time finding and then dealing with a private tour operator as you would researching your favorite SC wines and then making appointments at the wineries. If you build a private google map of the winery locations, you can visualize where they are relative to each other and check driving time between them.

                  Having a driver is nice on one hand, because you can drink without worry, but I find if I'm too drunk to drive, I'm also too drunk to evaluate a wine critically or remember finer points about what I liked, didn't like, or thought about its aging potential.

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                    adrienne156 RE: jscott Jul 14, 2009 11:31 AM

                    This may be too late:

                    http://www.wineanddinetour.com/

                    1. Claremonter RE: jscott Jul 20, 2009 05:01 PM

                      A few years ago we spent a couple of days in Napa & Sonoma. The highlight of our trip were the wineries along Olivet Road in Sonoma, and we're returning there in early August. For some of them you need an appointment, but others are open. The last time we visited we spoke to the winemakers or members of their families at Hook & Ladder and Harvest Moon. We also visited Sunce and a couple of others nearby in the Russian River Valley. Have fun!

                      1. wolfe RE: jscott Jul 20, 2009 05:15 PM

                        I saw a very long stretch limo pull up to Merry Edwards tasting room last weekend. Perhaps you could call the winery and see if they have any suggestions.

                        -----
                        Merry Edwards Winery
                        2959 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wolfe
                          k
                          kmoises RE: wolfe Jul 25, 2009 09:18 AM

                          i was in Sonoma a few weeks ago and visited the Merry Edwards winery...amazing wine! It's just a tasting, but I ended up buying a few pinot noirs and a savignon blanc... Definitely call and make an appointment for a tasting here.

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