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Some of the best experiences in Napa and Sonoma counties require some extra planning, meaning you have to make an appointment. But they’re well worth the effort. A word to the wise—reach out for appointments at these wineries well in advance of your travels. Happy tasting. 

Jonathan Cristaldi
November 28, 2017

NAPA

Arietta

Out of a shared passion for fine wine and classical music—the label features the manuscript of Beethoven's Arietta movement from his last Piano Sonata, Opus 111—Fritz Hatton and his wife Caren partnered with winemaker John Kongsgaard and his wife Maggy in 1996 to form Arietta. In 2005, the Hattons bought out the Kongsgaards and invited Andy Erickson—who previously made wine at Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, and Ovis, to name just a few—to become winemaker. At Arietta, Erickson produces Bordeaux-style blends in minuscule quantities—100 cases here, 300 cases there—ranging in price from $65 to $150. Tastings are held deep within the caves at Chateau Boswell, situated north of St. Helena, just off the Silverado Trail. Tip: For those familiar with Auction Napa Valley, you’ll know Fritz: for a long time he’s been the gifted auctioneer wielding a gavel at Christie's and now for Zachys

Appointments: Monday through Saturday, about 60-90 minutes in length

Fee: $75 per person, which is credited toward purchase of wine, maximum party of 8.  

Arietta3468 Silverado Trail, Saint Helena, info@ariettawine.com, 707-963-5918.

Wheeler Farms Winery

Wheeler Farms Winery, the brainchild of Bart and Daphne Araujo, houses a handful of Napa’s best producers, including Accendo Cellars, Arrow & Branch, Bella Oaks, Kinsman, Roam, TOR, and Vice Versa. For visitors, that means rare opportunities to experience both the wines of Wheeler Farms, made by Sara Donley, as well as the chance to book appointments with any of the aforementioned brands. Guests tasting Wheeler Farms wines are greeted with a non-alcoholic drink and a tour of the chicken coop, orchard, and gardens. With three different tasting experiences offered, you may find yourself in the Wheeler Farms Hospitality House (with stunning views of Mount St. Helena), enjoying a chef-curated farm-to-table experience, or trying a smattering of wines from select custom crush clients as part of the “Winemakers of Wheeler Farms” tasting. Tip: Guests in the market for single-vineyard Cabernets from Napa’s Beckstoffer To Kalon, Herb Lamb, Melanson, Cimarossa, and Tierra Roja, can book a private experience with TOR.

Appointments: Thursday to Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fee: $75 to $125 per person at Wheeler; for TOR and all other custom crush clients, please inquire

Wheeler Farms Winery, 588 Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena, 707-200-8500 ext. 103

Covert Estate

Situated just on the outskirts of downtown Napa, smack in the heart of Coombsville, the drive to this estate is beautiful and will take you off the beaten path of Highway 29 and Silverado Trail. Step inside the tasting room at the entrance of Covert’s caves and you’ll be handed a glass of Azur rosé, which is just as stunning as the twisted-silver-and-gold-metal chandelier that holds court over the room. Covert was founded by three families, including French winemaker Julien Fayard, one of the valley’s youngest and sought-after consultants, who grew up in Provence and cut his teeth working at Lafite Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte. Guests will enjoy a formal seated tasting of Covert’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Tip: Ask about the library tasting, and opportunities to samples wines from barrel.

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Appointments: daily

Fee: $75 to $125 per person

Covert Estate15 Chateau Lane, Napa, 707-224-1959

Stewart Cellars—The Nomad Heritage Library Tasting Experience

While the tasting room accepts walk-ins, the Nomad Heritage Library Tasting Experience is by-appointment-only and features a more Cabernet-focused tasting. You’ll sample a couple old vintages of Stewart Cellars’ flagship Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which go back to 2001, along with a tasting of their current-release and one library release of their Nomad Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon. Tips: There’s a parking lot behind the buildings, which generally has a spot open when street parking is full. Be sure ask about their new single-vineyard collection wines from Andy Beckstoffer’s famed heritage vineyards. And for those among you looking for a unique experience, be sure to ask about the Nomad Collection Series and Experience, which unfolds over two days and includes a personal tour of the six Beckstoffer Heritage Vineyards—some of Napa’s greatest sites.

Appointments: Daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the NOMAD Heritage Library Tasting

Fee: $125 per person; inquire for pricing on the Nomad Collection Private Vineyard Experience and overnight stay

Stewart Cellars6752 Washington St., Yountville, 707-963-9160

Mi Sueño

Lovers of deeply rich, golden-colored California Chardonnays will revel in Rolando and Lorena Herrera’s luscious, tropical-fruited, rich-baking spiced Carneros beauties. They also produce Russian River Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Tempranillo. Two tasting experiences are offered: the Mi Sueño Tasting and Herrera Tasting. Tip: If you live in California, ask about their in-home tasting experiences.   

Appointments: Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 3:00pm 

Fee: $40 to $60

Mi Sueño, 910 Enterprise Way, Napa, 707-258-6358

Frank Family Vineyards—Patio Tasting, Elevated Experience  

Landing a seat on the back patio is the appointment-only experience you’re after here. Frank Family is a tried and true Napa institution all thanks to Rich Frank, a former president of Disney Studios. Tastings occur in an updated Craftsman home, made beautiful by designer Erin Martin. Guests reserve either “Today’s Tasting” or “The Elevated Experience” which features five limited-production reserve wines along with artisanal cheese and charcuterie from the new Yountville cafe and market Ottimo. Winemaker Todd Graff joined Frank Family in 2003 after a lengthy stint at Schramsberg and produces a wine range of still and sparkling wines. Tip: Ask about Rich’s father who was a World War II veteran and be sure to find out about “The Patriarch” wine named in honor of his dad. 

Appointments: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily

Fee: $85 per person for non-members; $60 per person for Frank Family Vineyards wine club members

Frank Family Vineyards, 1091 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, online reservations

Cain Vineyard & Winery


From their perch at 3800 Langtry Road high atop Spring Mountain, you’ll enjoy spectacular views overlooking Napa Valley. The focus here is on the classic five Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Guests will taste their Cain Cuvée—a blend of two vintages and a selection of vineyards; Cain Concept—representing the classic benchlands of the Napa Valley; and Cain Five— the product of their estate Cain Vineyard. Christopher Howell came to Cain as a winemaking consultant in 1990, becoming general manager and winemaker in 1991. His C.V. includes stints at Mouton Rothschild in France and Peter Michael. Tip: Ask for the vineyard hike experience, and hopefully you’ll meet Chris and tour with him through their estate vineyard, which offers mesmerizing views, and varying aspects, followed by a tasting of Cain’s three current vintages and a library vintage.

Appointments available: Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., or 12:00 p.m.. Saturday 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

Fee: $75 for the vineyard hike and tasting; $50 for just a 45-minute tasting of current releases

Cain Vineyard and Winery, 800 Langtry Road, Saint Helena, 707-963-1616

Ehlers Estate

This little treasure sits right off Highway 29 in St. Helena on a truly unique “bench,” in the narrowest part of the entire valley, smack between the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains. The tasting room is eclectic—a rotating art exhibit graces the stone walls, and guests are seated in gathering spaces decorated in a patchwork of vintage furniture. There’s also a tasting bar, and in the summertime, an area for those with appointments to picnic. Winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz produces entirely estate-grown Bordeaux-varietal wines, including a dynamite rosé. Tip: Those visiting from the east coast might ask about their “Start Your Day” experience, and if you’re into bocce there’s a court to satisfy your competitive nature.  

Appointments available: Seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Fee: $35 per person up to six people

Ehlers Estate, 3222 Ehlers Lane, St. Helena, 707-963-5972

Cliff Lede Vineyards

Come join us on the Darkside of the Moon 🌙 #stagsleapdistrict #yountville #sauvignonblanc #cabernet #clifflede 📸: @spacecadette77

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Just off Silverado Trail in Yountville, Cliff Lede is a must-visit destination for age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons, while lovers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can taste FEL label offerings. The tasting room does accept walk-ins, and guests can order a and enjoy a pristine garden experience with sculptures and terrific views of the surrounding Vaca Mountains. Inquire about their wines from Savoy Vineyard in the Alexander Valley, which is a world-class vineyard owned by the winery, with a Who’s Who of clients that source grapes including Failla, Peay and Auteur. Tip: book a reservation to taste in the Backstage Tasting Lounge where owner Cliff Lede’s classic rock music obsession is on full display in rotating exhibits of some incredible rock memorabilia.

Appointments available: Daily with limited times for certain appointments

Fee: $35-$75 per person

Cliff Lede Vineyards, 1473 Yountville Cross Rd., Yountville, 707-944-8642

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery

A quick visit to the top of the world

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For one of the most authentic and old-fashioned experiences in Napa, make the winding  trek up Spring Mountain Road to visit with winemaker Charles Smith or his brother, viticulturist Stuart Smith. Take in dramatic views of the valley below through a corridor of 100-year-old olive trees and sample three current releases—Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon, all grown on the estate vineyards surrounding the winery on the top of Spring Mountain. You’ll be regaled with stories of Napa past and present because the brothers have been growing grapes for 46 years. Tip: ask about Smith-Madrone’s Cook’s Flat Reserve ($225, with each bottle initialed and numbered). Also, keep an eye out for Smith’s son, next-generation winemaker Sam Smith, who will debut his own label Curley St. James—a Cabernet-dominant blend—in the fall of this year. Having sampled it at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, I can attest that it's a tremendous wine from one of Napa's rising star winemakers.

Appointments available: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Fee: $25.00 per person—waived with a purchase.
Phone: (707) 963-2283
 

Robert Foley Vineyards

Looking up to #howellmountain after last night's rain. #fall #napavalley #vineyard #blueskies

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Robert Foley is the undisputed king of Howell Mountain and until very recently it was impossible to visit his open-air crushpad and winery in Angwin, about about an hour northeast of Napa. Foley’s wines are the stuff of legend, imbued with exquisite craft of a winemaker whose C.V. is almost unbelievable. The founding winemaker at Pride Mountain Vineyards and Hourglass, his deft hands have also crafted Switchback Ridge, Engel Family, and Padis Vineyards in Napa and he’s even produced wines for Red Hook Winery, which is based in New York City. His portfolio spans the gamut from bold, rich, opulent reds like his flagship Claret (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend), and his world-class Merlot and Charbono wines to a Carneros Pinot Noir, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah and a luscious white Rhone-style Pinot Blanc. In the rare moments when he’s not making wine he plays a mean Gibson guitar and tours with The Robert Foley Band. Tip: guests should no this is a no-frills experience in working winery and tasting room. Come for the wines, not the show. If you visit in the next year, rumor has it Foley is releasing a winery-only Mt. Veeder Cabernet in 2018. Get in now.

Appointments available: Wednesday through Saturday at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m..
Fee: $40 per person—waived with minimum purchase of $300
Contact: visit@robertfoleyvineyards.com
 

Ackerman

The last days of winter are near #ackermanfamilyvineyards #coombsville #napavalley

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This is special. Walking distance from most hotels in downtown Napa, at 608 Randolph Street, you’ll find Lauren Ackerman’s fully-restored Queen Anne Victorian mansion—a place so incredible that if you leave Napa without stopping off, you’ll regret it. Guests can book appointments to taste flights of  Coombsville appellation current vintages and library selections of Ackerman Family Wines made by Rob Lloyd, as well as flights of Lloyd Cellars. Tour the Victorian, taste in the gardens or spacious carriage house. A formal dining room seats 12 comfortably for multi-course meals plated on antique china, paired with wines. Or take in the state-of-the-art kitchen or grand sitting room, which can accommodate parties up to 50. Tip: ask to view (or taste) in the intimate mahogany-paneled library stocked with rare, old books, and if there’s availability for their food and wine class. Above all, inquire about three upstairs guest rooms.

Appointments available: Daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Fee: $55 to $195 per person depending on experience.
Contact: wineconcierge@ackermanfamilyvineyards.com or (855) 238-9463

 

Matthiasson

For some of the most-refined, elegant, classic expressions of Napa Valley terroir, a visit to Steve and Jill Matthiasson’s farmhouse in the heart of Napa is a must. No matter how crazed your schedule, things slow down at Matthiasson where guests are invited to sit around a picnic table and sample a lineup of beautifully made, finely-delineated wines, typically lower in alcohol and ideal for food given their electric acid profiles. Steve was named San Francisco Chronicle’s “Winemaker of the Year” in 2014, and has made wine for Aurajo, and currently consults for Dalla Valle, Eisele and works on a separate project called Ashes & Diamonds (located next to Napa’s Don Giovanni restaurant) Tip: The Matthiassons have a new winery, projected to open in 2019, which will also entertain small groups by appointment.

Appointments available: Daily from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for about one hour
Fee: No cost—maximum of 6 people per group
Contact: info@matthiasson.com

Gamble

Tom Gamble farms roughly 175 acres of prime estate vineyards in Oakville, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Yountville, producing classic Bordeaux-varietal wines that are imbued with Old World structure and elegance, while delivering New World hedonism. His winery and tasting room is situated in the heart of the valley in Oakville, hidden from those cruising up and down Highway 29. Once at the winery’s door, you might meet Koa, the four-legged Gamble staff member and often Tom Gamble himself. The experience is casual, down-to-earth in an elegant setting, but the wines require serious attention—they are true gems. Tip: if you want an incredible lesson in agricultural heritage and the art of growing grapes in unique pockets around Napa Valley, Tom, a third-generation grower will wow you with knowledge. For instance, after tasting their brilliant Sauvignon Blanc (aged 20 months in French oak) ask how those grapes thrive in their valley-floor location to produce such uniquely Old World traits.

Appointments available: Daily—limited times for a tour and tasting. Inquire. Experiences typically last about 90 minutes.
Fee: $75 to $150 per person—waived with a six bottle purchase and/or membership sign up.

Contact: (707) 944-2999

Donelan


Joe Donelan has ushered in a collection of wines that are about as Rhône and Burgundian-inspired as they come. From small-parcel, cool-climate vineyard sites throughout Sonoma, you’ll discover a world of beautifully-made wines, which are now under the helm of David Philbin, a alum of Relic Wine cellars and Hunnicutt. Donelan’s highly sought-after single-vineyard Syrahs, Rhône blends, and small-lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, are prized among collectors. Tip: Whatever you do, don’t leave without a bottle of the Kobler Vineyard Syrah from Russian River’s Green Valley AVA.

Appointments available: 7 days a week between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fee: $35 per person for The Donelan Portfolio Tour & Tasting—fee waived with 3 bottle purchase per person. $60 per person for The Road Less Traveled Tour & Tasting—fee waived with 6 bottle purchase per person.
Contact: reservations@donelanwines.com

Rudd Oakville Estate


Everything about Rudd is inspiring — from the elegantly furnished tasting library to the stunning winery outfitted with concrete tanks inspired by those at Petrus and made by the same mason. Leslie Rudd’s vision of owning a small jewel on a lake, producing wines of impeccable quality, is a realized dream as he passes the torch to his daughter, vintner Samantha Rudd. Their breathtaking portfolio includes estate Oakville Cabernets and whites that range from $80 to $250—made to cellar for decades. An experience here is uniquely special as guests are hosted privately and each visit is tailored to the guest’s desires. You might spend time touring vineyards high up on Mt. Veeder and visiting RUDD Farms, or tasting in their boathouse, or lakeside greenhouse (designed by architect Howard Backen), in caves or in one of the most fashionable dining rooms in the valley. From casual to formal, no matter the experience, it will wow. Tip: They produce one of the greatest Sauvignon Blancs ever to come off Mt. Veeder, modeled after Bordeaux’s famous examples, which you’ll sample when you visit.

Appointments available: Monday through Saturday, inquire for times.
Fee: $150 per person

Stag’s Leap Winery

Located off a long, private road, in a micro-valley within Napa Valley, the nineteenth-century historical stone winery and Victorian era Manor House boasts beautiful gardens and stylish wines including the award-winning five acre field blend, originally planted in 1929, Ne Cede Malis, as well as the opulent, The Leap and Audentia Cabernet Sauvignons. All experiences and tastings are by-appointment-only due to the semi-private location and historical preservation of the Manor House and it’s property.

Appointments available: Private Estate Ne Cede Malis Vineyard Tour & Tasting Experience is offered daily (August – October), by appointment only, at 11:00AM and 2:00PM

Fee: $125 per person

Stag's Leap Winery, 6150 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-257-5790

Mending Wall

From all of us here at Mending Wall, have a Happy Thanksgiving. #napavalley #sthelena #napastrong

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Five partners including winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown built this winery in the spring of 2014 in time for that vintage’s harvest. With ample space for tanks and barrels, there is “no compromise on quality,” says Rivers Brown, who helped design the production space. The tasting room boasts an industrial chic atmosphere with a fashionable bar and plenty of space for small and large groups. Since Rivers Brown was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Food & Wine, he’s produced numerous 100-point wines and earned loads of accolades. Tip: Locals affectionately refer to Rivers Brown as “TRB” and, in addition to tasting Mending Wall wines, ask about his other projects, which include Tamber Bay, Outpost, and a select group of clients including tiny-production Stone the Crows with its line of beautifully structured, rich and age worthy Cabernets and Cabernet blends. Most exciting is the fact that Thomas and his wife Genevieve Marie Welsh are planning a tasting room for Rivers Marie right next to T-Vine Winery off Highway 29 just south of Calistoga. 

Appointments available: most days from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Fee: $35 per person; $50 per person for parties of 8 or more
Contact: info@mendingwall.com or (707) 709-4200

SONOMA

WesMar 

Kirk Wesley Hubbard and his wife Denise Mary Selyem founded WesMar in 2000 after having worked for Denise’s dad, Ed Selyem of the legendary Williams Selyem Winery. The winery—situated in Sebastopol in the Russian River Valley—was an old apple processing warehouse, and tastings are casual and down to earth in a very raw, working winery space. The duo’s primary fruit sources are Hellenthal, Salzgeber, Balletto, and Oehlman vineyards, and a smattering of select Russian River and Sonoma Coast AVA sites. Once grapes are harvested, Kirk and Denise employ very low sulfur usage, and age their Pinots in French Oak for 12 months and then in the bottle 12 months prior to release. 

Appointments available: Mon-Fri 10:00 am - 2:00 pm; Sat 10:00 am - 12:00 pm 

Fee: $20 per person, waived with purchase of a bottle.

WesMar707-829-8824

Kosta Browne

Kosta Browne is one of the biggest names in California Pinot Noir—with a long waitlist for allocations. Earlier this year, the winery quietly opened a tasting room in the Barlow. Members can join for a complimentary tour and tasting or opt for the new Gallery Tasting experience—both of which are open to anyone who wants to sign up for the mailing list on the KB website (NB: It's free to sign up, but there is still a one to two year wait period for new members to become active members, with the ability to actually buy wine). A visit to KB begins in a private greeting room with a splash of something white, typically. Upstairs is a suite, where vintage lamps and a stone fireplace from an old French cathedral illuminate a long tasting table that offers a panoramic view of the working winery. Tip: Only active members have access to a library tasting offering a mix of back vintages. For new members, and any active members that wish to participate, there's a new tier of wines dubbed the "Observation Series" that will be available for tasting and purchase. These wines, offered strictly through the tasting room on a limited basis, are ones that winemaker Nico Cueva has identified as unique and worth bottling on their own.  

Appointments: “The Gallery Tasting” experience is offered Tuesday through Sundays, by appointment at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Fee: $75 for active members and $125 for new members

Contact: Hospitality@KostaBrowne.com or 707-823-7430

Garden Creek

Husband and wife team Justin and Karin Warnelius-Miller produce just two wines: a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon—the Cabernet is held an astounding seven years in their cold, dark cellars on-site, prior to release, meaning the 2012 Garden Creek Cabernet is the current release. 

Appointments: Private tastings including a walk in the hillside vineyards Wednesday thru Saturday at 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. or a Library Wine Experience tasting of three Library Wines beginning with a decade old Cabernet Sauvignon. Inquire for availability.

Fee: $50 per person for a vineyard tour and wine tasting, lasts approximately 2 hours, and can accommodate up to 6 guests per group; $75 for Library Wine Experience; joining the Mailing List prior to visiting is requested for priority.

Contact: wine@gardencreekvineyards.com (707) 433-8345

Occidental Wines

Guests fortunate enough to land an appointment at Occidental Wines will experience their own private tour and seated tasting in the state-of-the-art winery on Steve Kistler’s Bodega Ridge property, where they'll see the winemaking process from start to finish and sample three wines while taking in Occidental’s history, followed by a stroll through the vineyard, winery and production facilities. Tip: Preference for visits is given to members of their mailing list, especially for weekend appointments. Wines are released just once a year, so if you’re visiting sometime in January of 2019 (the next release) you might be in luck. 

Appointments available: Monday through Saturday, but subject to change during very busy times of the year like harvest. 

Fee: $65 per person, waived with purchase of wine.

Contact: info@occidentalwines.com or visit https://occidentalwines.com/visit/ 

Small Vines

Small Vines founder Robert Sloan worked at Sonoma’s fabled John Ash & Co. as a wine buyer, and later, equipped with a degree in viticulture, landed a coveted position tending to vines on a collection of vineyards under Dutton Ranch. Warren Dutton himself encouraged Sloan to plant his own vines, and today Small Vines is the genesis of all that work and a family affair, with Paul, his wife Kathryn and their daughters Dakota and Savannah working the land, harvesting, and making the wines. In keeping with the name “Small Vines” the Sloans produce tiny lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Guests will tour the vineyard, see the winery, and sample a lineup of current release wines (about 5-7 tastes) in their tasting barn.

Appointments available: Most days, by advance appointment 

Fee: $100 per person—waived with the equivalent purchase

Contact: info@smallvines.com

Bohème Wines

As owner and winemaker, Kurt Beitler likes to host private tasting tours whenever possible. Maybe he picked up some of that personal charm from his grandfather or uncle—that’s Charlie Wagner, the founder of Caymus Vineyards, and Chuck Wagner, the current steward, respectively. Beitler has worked for the family at Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard, and today is shepherding his own Bohéme label toward cult-stardom. Guests start out with a driving tour into the hills west of Occidental to see Bohème’s vineyards, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. You’ll see first-hand just what kind of odds winegrowers are up against in these extreme coastal sites, (hopefully) giving a deeper appreciation for the coastal Pinots and Chardonnays that show off the crystaline purity you’d expect from such sites. The tasting happens around a picnic table in the shade of California redwoods, overlooking the vineyard. You’ll return to Occidental for the opportunity to take wines home. All in all, figure about 1.5 hours. Tip: The “Bohemian Highway” runs through the town of Occidental, named for San Francisco's Bohemian Club, which traversed the route in the 1800s. 

Appointments: Monday through Saturday, limit of 4 guests per visit.

Fee: Complimentary with purchase of wine

Contact: info@boehemwines.com or main winery phone: (707) 887-2287

Inman Family Wines

Kathleen Inman is making some of the finest Pinot Noir right in the heart of Sonoma's Russian River Valley from her humble 100% solar-powered winery and tasting room in Santa Rosa, CA. Relaxed tastings are hosted in one of the two small salons or on her patio, and with a glass of mesmerizing Pinot Noir in hand, guests can take in views of perfectly manicured rows of vines. A typical tasting is of 5-6 current releases with breadsticks provided as a palate cleanser. A no-frills experience, the winery is pet friendly, and the focus is all on these beautifully made Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, rosés and a sparkling wine. Tip: The parking lot boasts two “Level 2” charging stations for electric cars. And visitors curious to stay the night for more Russian River gallivanting should inquire about the 3-bedroom Craftsman farmhouse that can be rented.

Appointments available: Thursday through Monday at 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Fee: $20 per person is waived with a minimum purchase of $100 per person. "Meet the Maker"  fees are $35 per person and are also waived with a minimum purchase of $150.
Contact: (707) 293-9576.

Patz & Hall


If you’ve never been to this iconic winery, or tried their Chardonnays and single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from Hyde, Pisoni, Dutton, Zio Tony, Hudson and Alder Springs vineyards, you simply are missing out. For a simple, refined experience and introduction, waste no time in booking a tasting in their Salon at the Sonoma House, which was unveiled in 2014. Tip: Tastings include pairings with locally sourced, specially prepared bites, like tea-smoked duck and sage chicken salad with rose petals.

Appointments available: Seated tastings Thursday through Monday at 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Fee: $75 per person for The Salon Experience, lasts approximately 60 minutes, and can accommodate up to 9 guests per tasting.
Contact: info@patzhall.com or (707) 931-2440

Senses Wines

Wine Country is open for business, and beautiful as ever. We’ll see you in the vineyard! 👋🏼 #winewednesday

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From a truly stunning property situated just outside of Occidental between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay, a trip to visit Senses on the Sonoma Coast is a must. The wines are produced by Thomas Rivers Brown — a Food & Wine “Winemaker of the Year.” Small groups are treated to an elegant visit highlighting exceptional world-class Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays produced by “TRB,” who is known for his decadent Cabernet wines. Three partners — Chris Strieter, Max Thieriot, and Myles Lawrence-Briggs have been friends since preschool, grew up in town, and have built Senses from the ground up. Expect great things from this estate. Tip: fans of A&E’s Bates Motel and CBS SEAL Team might recognize a familiar face in actor Max Thieriot, who, if you’re fortunate during a visit might make an appearance. And Pinot lovers will be keen to know that TRB is owner of Summa Vineyard across the street, a Pinot Noir site planted even before Hirsch in the Sonoma Coast and that Strieter previously worked at iconic Williams Selyem. All pedigree and terrific wines.

Appointments available: Must be scheduled in advance of planning a visit
Fee: Inquire about becoming a member to plan a visit
Contact: contact@senseswines.com or (707) 874-8550

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