Hi friends! I have another Sonoma post for you today! Like I said in my post a few weeks ago, pasta sauce and wine run in my veins. So of course we did some wine tasting while we were in Sonoma. How can you not?! Another thing you should know about me is that I not only love wine, I’m fascinated with wine making, the history of wineries and really getting immersed in the wine culture. I wish I had the means to quit my job and take up wine making. Or just be a sommelier for a winery. How fun would that be?! We learned a lot about the wineries we visited while we were there, so I’ll try not to go into too much detail. 🙂
We had no specific wineries we wanted to visit while we were there, so we got recommendations from our B&B and other wineries we visited.
I’m only going to highlight the ones we really liked and would go back to again.
This was the first place we went when we got into town (and after we had some lunch), and one of the only tasting rooms we went to while in Sonoma. We did most of our wine tasting at the wineries.
Bryter has a cute little tasting room on the square and it was so inviting walking in. We really hit it off with Josh, who was new to Bryter, but you would never know it. He was already super knowledgeable about their wines! The Petite Verdot and Pinot Noir were by far my favorites. Being a Thursday it wasn’t busy so it was nice to take our time and have some great conversation with Josh and Genevieve.
Josh and Genevieve were awesome!
Kunde was top 2 wineries of the weekend. They are one of the only family owned wineries left in Sonoma (most are now corporate owned). Kunde is located about 10 miles north of Sonoma in the tiny little town of Kenwood.
Beautiful pond and fountains as you walked up to the tasting area. The grounds are gorgeous!
They have 1,850 acres of family owned land. 750 acres are used to grow wine, the rest is Herferd cattle, a shooting range and a few lakes, among other things. They also do mountain top tastings at 1,400 feet, that overlooks the vineyards. If we’d had time we would have done that for sure. I bet it’s an amazing experience (and of course came highly recommended).
See that BW 202 on the top of the arch? That means bonded winery #202 (in the early 1900s). Kunde was one of the first wineries to be bonded by the state of California. Now, there are tens of thousands of bonded wineries in CA. That is one of the entrances to the caves.
We of course had to tour the wine caves.
The caves are over 32,000 square feet and stocked full of aging wine. It really was amazing to see and hear how they built these caves.
Sherri was our sommelier and so great. She’d only been there 5 days! I would never have guessed.
Chateau St. Jean
We visited Chateau St. Jean after Kunde since Sherri recommended it. It was our other favorite winery we visited. We got a private, reserve tasting thanks to Sherri’s recommendation. Chateau St. Jean is also located north of Sonoma in Kenwood.
You walk from the parking lot through this beautiful archway to the internal courtyard and gardens.
I mean really?! My photos don’t even do it justice. It was absolutely gorgeous and so peaceful. They have a bocce ball court you could enjoy, lots of places to sit, 2 separate tasting rooms (the main tasting room and Vineyard Room for reserve tastings, which we were able to taste in) and a delicatessen. They also have an art collection, with some beautiful pieces.
Their winemaker has been there for over 30 years! The grounds were beautiful and their wine was amazing. There honestly wasn’t a wine we didn’t like.
Cindy was our sommelier and actually lived in the Seattle area for a time! We had lots to chat about and she was so friendly. Their wine club was actually really good too, and very enticing for us to join. Maybe after we pay off our debt. 🙂
Another must visit winery if you visit the Sonoma area.
Benzinger is another family owned winery north of Sonoma in Glen Ellen. Not only are they family owned, they are a biodynamic, organic and sustainable winery. Biodynamic is the highest level of organic farming you can achieve. It basically means the entire winery is self contained; no synthetic chemicals, a closed nutrient system, all organic waste is recycled through composting, and a whole lot more. It’s pretty intense and a very rigorous process, but in the end makes for amazing wine and a better environment. That’s pretty darn awesome I think!
Driving up the road you see hundreds of rose bushes. That’s a common theme for a lot of the vineyards down there I noticed. Makes for a beautiful drive.
I loved their relaxed, laid back vibe. And everyone that helped us was so knowledgeable and taught us a bit about how the Benzinger’s built their winery up to biodynamic standards.
Imagery was recommended to us by the guys at Benzinger because it belongs to one of the Benzinger sons. And it was voted best Sonoma winery 3 years running! That’s a pretty glowing recommendation.
The thing I loved most about Imagery was that they are known for their lesser-known varietals, which is right up my alley! They also have a bocce ball court and horse shoes. Just a fun place to hang out and spend an afternoon.
We of course loved all of their reds. I’m a red girl at heart.
They also have an art gallery at the winery, that showcases one-of-a-kind art from around the world that is used as Imagery labels. So cool!
I really loved the vibe of Imagery; just a relaxed, fun atmosphere. And that fireplace was calling my name. I wanted to cuddle up with that sweet dog you see at the bottom of the photo and take a nap in one of those chairs.
And I’ll stop there. Those were definitely our favorite wineries we visited while in Sonoma. I still can’t get over the beautiful countryside and relaxed atmosphere of the area. I really could picture myself pouring wine in one of those tasting rooms, just chatting with new folks every day. That sounds like a perfect job to me!
Have a great Wednesday!