8 Sonoma Wineries That Are Worth the Drive From SF

You deserve a wine-cation.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery

California is filled with unique peaks and valleys that not only make for a scenic road trip, but some of the best winemaking regions in the country. And while Napa Valley is an excellent choice if you want to visit as many wineries as possible, that close proximity also means it gets very crowded during peak season. That’s why we’re so happy that just to the west of it is Sonoma Valley, a 17-mile span of stunning views, farm-to-table restaurants, charming B&Bs, historic landmarks, and, of course, over 100 wineries spread across five distinct AVAs. Here are eight of our favorites, where you’ll find excellent wine, unique experiences, and in a few instances, gourmet food to complement it all.

Benziger Family Winery
Photo courtesy of Benziger Family Winery

Glen Ellen
Benziger tends to its 86-acre property using certified biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming methods, so it only makes sense that any visit to the gorgeous estate should include a tour on the open-air tram where you’ll learn about cover crops, spot bat and owl boxes around the vineyards, and see sheep and Scottish Highlander cattle grazing (and helping take care of and till the land). And don’t worry, there’s also wine. The tour is followed by a seated al fresco tasting of several Estate wines.
How to book: Reservations can be made on the website.

Buena Vista Winery
Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Winery

If you enjoy a side of history with your wine, you’ll love Buena Vista, the oldest commercial winery in California (founded in 1857). Go on the Historic Wine Museum Tour and Tasting to experience a light and sound show where you’ll learn about 19th century wine tools, as well all about the founder and self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista” who, not-so-fun fact, died in a crocodile-infested river in the jungles of Nicaragua in 1869. The Barrel Tour and Tasting is also a fun option if you prefer to see the historic property, as well as the Champagne Cellar and the caves (where you’ll taste directly from the barrel).
How to book: Reservations can be made on Tock.

Photo by Molly DeCroudeaux

Contemporary art and single-vineyard pinot noir are the name of the game at this 200-acre estate, where you’ll discover 150-year-old olive trees, a sustainable farm, fields of lavender, and modern sculptures from well-known artists dotted throughout. There are several tours and tastings, including one walking and one in an ATV. The estate used pandemic closures as an excuse to transform the Donum Home, hiring award-winning Danish architect and designer David Thulstrup, who drew on spectacular California landscapes and Scandinavian values of simplicity and functionality to create a warm and inviting space that allows the wines and art to speak for themselves. 
How to book: Reservations can be made on CellarPass.

Photo courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery

This vineyard is the closest to the Pacific Ocean (just one mile away) in California, an attribute that makes both the wine and a visit an experience unlike any other you’ll find in Wine Country. The mountain-vineyard blocks range in elevation from 1,200 to 1,700 feet above sea level on all types of terroir, including some areas that are so steep, the vineyards can only be reached by foot. Dress warmly for the tasting if you want to enjoy it on the heated deck overlooking the ocean—or the coastal fog—and dense forests. There is an indoor tasting room where you can do a standard tasting while standing at the bar, but the way to experience it is on the aforementioned deck where you’ll enjoy four Estate Grown wines and locally sourced charcuterie and cheese.
How to book: Reserve on Tock.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Photo courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery is much more than a winery. It’s like a winery theme park (literally, as it was inspired by Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen) on a sprawling estate with a huge swimming pool, bocce ball courts, two restaurants, a movie gallery with memorabilia from Coppola’s films (including Don Corleone’s desk), as well as tasting bars, and a gift shop. Plan to make a day of it if you can snag a reservation for the pool. There’s also a wine and bocce experience (with an optional cigar pairing), and both the Italian restaurant and poolside cafe have good food and full bars.
How to book: For tasting reservations, email GuestServices@FrancisFordCoppolaWinery.com or call 707-857-1471. For cabine reservations (which gives you access to the pool), create an account and reserve here. Reservations for Rustic, the full-service restaurant, can be made here.

Gundlach Bundschu
Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu

“Gun Bun” is California’s oldest family-owned winery (they’ve been farming the estate since 1858), but there’s none of the pretentiousness one might expect with that kind of pedigree. In fact, Gun Bun is one of the most down-to-earth wineries in Sonoma and also has some of the best experiences, including a tour of the 220-acre property via a Pinzguaer (Swiss military vehicle). On the weekends, Arbor Bar is the place to hang out, order a bottle or a glass, and snack on sandwiches while taking in vineyard views and listening to “feel-good tunes” from the DJ. You can even bring your pup.
How to book: Reservations can be made on CellarPass.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Set among the rolling hills of the Alexander Valley, Jordan is known for three things: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and fantastic hospitality. Experience all three at a French bistro-style lunch (made with many ingredients grown on the estate) on the terrace next to the hilltop chateau. The Estate Tour & Tasting, which includes al-fresco tastings of library vintages paired with gourmet bites, is also fantastic, especially if you want to learn more about the wine and the land it comes from.
How to book: Reservations can be made on the website.

Ledson Winery & Vineyards

The king of the castle in Sonoma, somewhat literally, Ledson is known for its 16,000 square foot French-Normandy structure with cathedral-style windows, coffered ceilings, and ornate details surrounded by a 17-acre estate vineyard. There are several tasting bars inside, all with views of the castle grounds and vineyards, as well as private tastings in suites named after family members. Sandwiches and other treats are available to purchase in the marketplace in case you prefer to enjoy a picnic and a bottle on the grounds.
How to book: Request a reservation on the website.

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who loves nothing more than a weekend in Healdsburg. See where her adventures take her on Instagram @daisysf.