Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Sep 1, 2011 07:22 PM

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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have two recs., and I doubt that either will be on your radar screen:

    Benovia - (Pinots, some Chards, and a Zin, or so from Joe's front yard


    Hafner - (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 ( ), 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! 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.