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Small winery in/around Healdsburg area?

After wine trips to Paso Robles, Santa Ynez and France I've come to the conclusion that wineries any larger than a two or three man operation can't make good wine.

Some of my favorites in the Santa Ynez area are Huber and Carhartt. In Paso I love Dover Canyon.

Now I'm finally getting to the Sonoma area. Any suggestions for some fantastic tiny wineries in or around the Healdsburg area?

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  1. I have two recs., and I doubt that either will be on your radar screen:

    Benovia - http://www.benoviawinery.com/ (Pinots, some Chards, and a Zin, or so from Joe's front yard


    Hafner - http://www.hafnervineyard.com/ (only two Chards and a local Cab(

    They are not THAT far apart, and an easy drive from town. Do call ahead, and especially for Hafner. Times might well be limited, and then limited by day.

    At Benovia, if Joe Anderson is around, tell him hello from Bill & Linda Hunt. Same for Parke and Scott Hafner, over there.

    Both are highly allocated for limited restaurants, but both are well-worth the time and the call.

    You will never see a tour bus at either, and also meet some of the neatest folk on Earth.



    3 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Thanks! Anyone else have some more recommendations?

      1. re: spiffnme

        Try Geyser Peak a few miles north of Healdsburg. Love their sauvignon blanc and reserve Alexander, red; more of a meritage.

      2. re: Bill Hunt

        A. Rafenelli or Raymond Burr both on the Dry Creek Rd. - Healdsburg address.

      3. This recent thread covers more territory than you're asking for but worth a read:


        1. "After wine trips to Paso Robles, Santa Ynez and France I've come to the conclusion that wineries any larger than a two or three man operation can't make good wine."

          Normally if someone would ask me for a rec in the Healdsburg area I would steer them towards Ridge. But they are larger than a two or three man operation so they obviously cannot make good wine. :-)

          12 Replies
          1. re: Fowler

            Well, you make a good point, as Ridge is a great winery.

            However, their main area of production would be in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and not Sonoma,.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I believe that the Ridge Lytton Springs winery/vineyards produces petite sirah, zin and syrah grenache. The tasting experience at Lytton Springs is top shelf. Plus the straw bale and advanced solar system wine production facility would make an eco-friendly wine lover's heart go pitter patter.

              1. re: mzsnowhite


                I completely agree! There may be smaller wineries in the area but the tasting experience at Ridge in Sonoma is wonderful. I do not get all uptight about where a winery has their headquarters. I just like good wine and wonderful tasting experiences. Sounds like you may feel the same way.

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                "However, their main area of production would be in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and not Sonoma,".

                Hi Mr. Hunt,

                I always enjoy reading your comments, but I never stated their main area of production was in Sonoma.

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Having been to both their locations, I definitely enjoyed the tasting I did at Ridge Lytton Springs just as much if not slightly more than the many tastings I've done at their Santa Cruz location. Regardless, Ridge is a wonderful winery that has never disappointed... definitely one of my favorite wineries.

                  1. re: lrealml

                    Ridge's original winery, Monte Bello, is in Cupertino. Santa Cruz is about an hour south, on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Did they move? The last time I was at their other location they were not in Cupertino but around that western Steven's Creek Park area.

                      1. re: Fowler

                        Right, Ridge's original winery is on Montebello Road over Stevens Creek County Park.

                        Ridge Vineyards - Lytton Springs
                        650 Lytton Springs Rd, Healdsburg, CA

                        Ridge Vineyards - Monte Bello
                        17100 Monte Bello Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        By Santa Cruz I was referring to wine region aka AVA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cr... ), which includes Cupertino; sorry if that was confusing... I should have said Santa Cruz Mountains.

                        @Fowler- The winery is at 17100 Montebello Road, Cupertino and has been there since at least my first visit in 2007. I don't know if they have ever been anywhere else.

                        1. re: lrealml

                          Ridge has two production facilities and tasting rooms, with estate vineyards in both locations. Monte Bello in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Cupertino is the original site, where Ridge began in the 1960s. Production there is focused on Cabernet and Chardonnay, and Zins are made there as well.

                          The Lytton Springs property near Healdsburg, purchased in 1991 though fruit has been sourced from there since the '70s, is focused on Zin, as most of Ridge's Zinfandel is grown in Sonoma County.

                          Sorry if that's too much info, but I wanted to clear up any confusion. (I've worked in the Lytton Springs tasting room.)

                          1. re: brandyea

                            Thanks for the info. Where are the ATP wines made?

                            1. re: Fowler

                              ATP wines are made at both sites. The Carignane and Zins tend to be produced at Lytton Springs, while the Rhones are usually done at Monte Bello.

                2. Vision Cellars on West Side Road in Forestville. Excellent Pinot Noirs! www.visioncellars.com. Call first. They love company. Lovely people.

                  1. Downtown Wine in Healdsburg. It's a small tasting room for two local wine makers. Good wine, great people and easy access.

                    1. Skewis is a two-person operation that makes excellent pinots. They just opened a tasting room in Healdsburg


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ernie in berkeley

                        I have had some very interesting PN's from Skewis, but have not been to the winery.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          The winery is just a section of a former mushroom grow-house, not much to see except the stacks of barrels. They used to have open-houses for their club members to pick up our allocations, and sometimes these were during crush, which is fun to watch (Hank using a forklift to dump a half-ton bin into the crusher/destemmer, us grabbing a taste of the fresh must as it flowed). The tasting room in town, though, opened just a few months ago. I think they might move the pickup point there.

                      2. I like Topel Winery and Armida is a family owned spot with a bit more fun and energy.

                        Let us know where you end up!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: masvinogirl

                          My husband and I would have sped past Armida if I hadn't seen your post on the plane out to SF and called out to my husband to stop, masvinogirl!

                          Can't thank you enough for what was our most fun tasting experience of the day. When we arrived, there was live music, white tents on the grounds and a bocce ball game in progress...all very festive. We wondered what was going on, but went in just the same.

                          When we stepped up to the 4-people-deep tasting bar (folks very kindly cut a path for us) we found out we had lucked into the "Wino's Pick Up Party" - their event for wine club members to come and pick up their shipments (and enjoy a sweet summer party!)

                          Wine club members were delighted that we'd just happened upon the happy event, and we eventually discovered that our tastings were being poured by none other than Brandon, the winemaker. I noticed his first-person tense of describing how "he" wanted the wines to be, and with such passion, that I asked if by chance he was the winemaker - and he was!

                          All in all, such a happy accident but clearly meant to be. The festive atmosphere was made complete by the electricity cutting out from time to time from the additional strain placed on it by the extra music, cooking and air conditioning needs. The staff and wine club folks in the tasting room got hushed, then roared even louder - somehow it all felt strange and exciting, like when you're sitting in math class in fourth grade and the lights suddenly go out or there's a big storm brewing outside, and the kids all look around, crazy with the energy of it, feeling completely alive and feral for a brief moment.

                          Just wanted to thank you for the beautiful rec, masvniogirl (yo tambien!) one of our favorite Healdsburg experiences (not the mention the wines)!

                        2. Garagiste Healdsburg is a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg that was just opened by two two-person wineries: Cartograph and Stark.

                          Very cool space, and one or more of the winemakers is always working the tasting room and happy to chat about wine. They are lovely people. The Cartograph Gewürztraminer is crazy good -- dry and spicy, very much in the Alsatian style, and cured me of my former prejudice against Gewürz.

                          Pics of the space here:

                          Garagiste Healdsburg
                          439 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA 95448
                          Hours: Thursday – Sunday 12 – 7pm
                          By appointment Tuesday & Wednesday

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mcgeary

                            I'm also a big fan of Garagiste. High-quality wines and wonderful people. In addition to the Gerwurtz, Cartograph makes beautiful Pinot Noir. Stark's Viognier and Syrah are delicious, too. The tasting room's open later than most -- 'til 7 p.m. -- and sells wine by the glass so it's a good choice for tasting or to grab a drink on the patio before heading out to dinner.

                          2. We are big fans of Seghesio which is fairly close to downtown. Nice family run winery. One of their zins was high on the Wine Spectator list a few years ago.

                            Seghesio Family Vineyards
                            14730 Grove St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                            1. My favorite Healdsburg (well, technically Geyserville) winery is David Coffaro at 7485 Dry Creek Road, just past Yoakim Bridge Road. It's a very small operation, and just the place to go if you like a quirky experience..

                              Check out David's website, www.coffaro.com, especially his "Dave's Diary", where he chronicles the ups and downs and joys of winemaking.

                              And if you're lucky, he'll be making pizza, or showing Woodstock on the big screen in the tasting/barrel room...

                              1. In Healdsburg, you might want to also check out Steven & Walker Trust: http://www.trustwine.com/

                                And another, Lambert Bridge: http://www.lambertbridge.com/

                                Enjoy the trip,


                                Lambert Bridge
                                4085 W Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA

                                1. Sausal Winery in Alexander Valley - small, family owened place. Great Zins.

                                  Sausal Winery
                                  7370 Highway 128, Healdsburg, CA

                                  1. Woodenhead, which is on River Rd, west of Santa Rosa, or is it NW of Santa Rosa? Excellent pinots and zins, and very nice folks.

                                    http://www.woodenheadwine.com/ .

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pinotho

                                      Woodenhead is a great suggestion. It's one of my favorites. The Pinots and Zinfandels are fantastic. They also make a very reasonably priced blend, Redwood Red, and a French Colombard that is my go-to oyster wine. They have a deck with a gorgeous view, too. Good spot for picnics.

                                    2. Rafanelli and Nalle make good wine and are both family operations in Dry Creek.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: selectiveomnivore

                                        Acorn Winery - need appt for tasting - great zins, syrah, sangiovese, dolcetto, etc.
                                        Papapietro Perry - great Pinot and zin

                                        Acorn Winery
                                        12040 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg, CA