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Jan 9, 2014 03:08 PM

Sonoma Valley Winery Passport-anything worthwhile?

I am coming to Sonoma in late March with a group of friends. It is my second visit, the first for most of the group. The cottage we are renting is providing winery passports for us, and as some of our group are barely squeaking by on paying for the trip, I am sure they will want to take advantage. I am probably the only one of us with wine knowledge and a desire to REALLY taste, the rest are in it for the fun and ability to hang out together. So I am basically trying to make sure I get in one or two decent experiences amidst they more touristy stuff. I have read several threads about wineries in the area, and I have seen the one which basically says nothing on the list is worthwhile. But if your friend who barely drinks was in town, and you HAD to choose from this list (and please factor in the experience and setting as much as the wine) which of these would you visit? I am not including those on the square, just those which would necessitate a special trip.
Chateu St Jean
Gundlach Bundschu
Jonathan Smith (can't find a thing about this one)
Little Vineyards
Paradise Ridge
Peters Cellars
Robledo Family
Ty Caton

I appreciate that this list might be abhorrent to some of you, but please try to understand my dilemma! If you would like to add your absolute favorite tasting room in Sonoma County so that I can try to slip in something worthwhile, I would also be most appreciative. Again, a lovely or unique setting will be the most important things to the group at large. I love almost all wines, but prefer earthy, full bodied reds (zins, syrah, blends). Thanks!

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  1. No takers yet, so I will specify and see if anyone is willing to help. I am thinking about suggesting we go to Healdsburg, as I've never made it that far north and it sounds like a lovely little town. Taking the 12 to the 101 gives us several options from the list, including (from south to north) Ravenswood, Little Vineyards, Imagery, Benziger (which from other thread reading it sounds like I want to avoid), Wellington, Kunde (to which I have been), Kenwood, Chateau St Jean, Enkidu, and Paradise Ridge. I could add Homewood, Gundlach Bundschu, and Bartholomew Park to the list if we go a little off the path. Can anyone let me know if they would specifically avoid, or seek out, any of these?

    1. Given your preference for earthy reds and your list
      I'd suggest
      Ty Caton
      Havent tasted the wines at Little though location is pretty and its small unlike many of the others on your list
      Loxton specializes in Syrah

      Hope this helps a little - as you've guessed the list is pretty main stream. Theones I mentioned are all pretty close to each other and on the way rom Sonoma to H'burg too

      1 Reply
      1. I love the wines at Imagery but I can't say they'd be to your taste or not. Beautiful setting, outside picnic tables, bocce ball court available (bocce balls for loan from the tasting room). Saturdays during the summer they fire up the wood fired pizza oven on the patio, but March would probably be a little early for that.