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Looking for Sonoma County winery suggestions

My hubby and I will be staying in Glen Ellen in December. We've stayed in Sonoma before (a while back) and been to some of the larger, more touristy wineries. Now that we're a little older, wiser, and know a little more about what kind of wine we like, we're looking forward to trying some other wineries.

Since we'll be there for 4 days, we can probably drive to some farther wineries for a couple of the days, but we want to make sure we are efficient about it and get the most out of the farther drives.

To give you a gauge of our preferences:
- We mainly like red wines: Cabs, Zins, Bordeaux blends, Rhone blends, and the occasional Pinot. Hubby likes "big cabs" in particular (some of his favorite wines are 100% cab).
- We are big fans of Ridge and part of their wine club so we will most likely likely be taking the trek up to Healdsburg. Are there any other notable wineries in that area that we should visit?
- Would like to visit at least 1-2 sparkling houses. Would probably visit Iron Horse, but since it is quite far, wondering if there are any other wineries near the area worth visiting.
- Though we usually like "big" wines, we wouldn't mind visiting a couple places noted for Pinot, to have some variety. Some Pinots I've enjoyed before are Flowers (way too far) and Goldeneye (been there already). Any recommendations?
- Would like to visit a few small, family wineries that offer a great tasting experience. When we were in Napa last summer we really enjoyed Hendry Vineyards so something similar in the Sonoma area would be great.
- Of course, any wineries close to or in Glen Ellen would also be appreciated, for when we need to take a break from all the driving

Thanks all!

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  1. My husband and I really prefer the smaller family run wineries. We are pretty new to the area, and I'm not sure how close these are to Glen Ellen, but here are a few suggestions. The Vincent Arroyo winery is really great, they are around the St. Helena area. Goosecreek Cellars is also a good experience. They have a great variety of wine available as well. The Robledo family winery is around Sonoma. They are great! The tasting room isn't very impressive, but the wines are. Also if you are a fan of port, Prager is right next to Sutter Home on the main street in Napa. Hagafen is also a great winery. Their employees are very knowledgeable and friendly. The Frank Family winery also has a beautiful property. They have some great reds, and sparkling wine as well. The property is beautiful too. We had a great picnic there! Like I said before, I am not familiar with Glen Ellen, so I hope some of these are close. At least if there is a little driving involved, it's a beautiful area to explore. There are some great little restaurants, deli's and gourmet stores.

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    Robledo's Restaurant
    6286 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124

    1 Reply
    1. re: llietzke

      Except for Robledo, none of your recs are close to Sonoma or the areas the original poster requested.

    2. Try a visit to Mayo Family tasting room in Kenwood, they pair wine with food and
      makes a great lunch. Reservations needed.

      1. If you like "Big" wines, don't miss Ravenswood on the outskirts of the town of Sonoma.

        Also, south of Sonoma a bit is a nice fizzy stop at Gloria Ferrer (their still wines are good nice but in a more elegant style, not the robust you seem to favor). If the weather is nice enjoy a glass of their Blancs de Noirs or regular Brut (which I prefer to the reserve bottlings) out on the terrace. Then head further south another five minutes and take a peek around Cline, which makes some old vine Zins and Rhonish wines.

        A little east of Sonoma on 121/Carneros Highway is Domaine Carneros, excellent sparkling wines, and a richer style of Pinot Noir. Another lovely terrace.

        BTW, thanks for letting us know the style of wines you prefer -- makes it possible to actually give reasonably suitable recommendations.

        My caveat is always this ... four wineries a day is usually enough, unless you're spitting. Esp. true if tasting bigger, riper (I.e. higher alcohol) wines.

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        Domaine Carneros
        1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

        Carneros Restaurant
        1325 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476

        1. It sounds like your taste in reds is about like mine. A few months ago I happened onto a tasting event of Muscardini Cellars, and I was struck by how much I liked all their reds. I joined their "club", a thing I almost never do, and have tasted and bought their wine since then without changing my initial impression. They're a very small family winery with a tasting room in Kenwood, just up the road from Glen Ellen. I'll be going there sometime Sunday to pick up my November wine club wine :-) Stop by and try some really good full-bodied reds.

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          Muscardini Cellars & Ty Caton Vineyards Tasting Room
          8910 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA

          1. Geyser Peak winery a few minutes north of Healdsburg. Has excellent blends of Cab. Not far, try their sister/brother winery...Canyon Roads.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joisey al

              Canyon Road is now just a Modesto brand. The winery property now houses Trione Vineyard & Winery.