Exploring Sonoma: One Winery at a Time

Last month, we took a weekend to escape from cloudy Walla Walla for a trip to 65-degrees-and-sunny Sonoma! I’m going to be honest- I’ve never actually been tasting in California before, and the astonishing amount of wineries and AVAs in the state kind of boggle my mind.  I like to keep my eye on what’s going on in California wineries through blogs and Wine Spectator, but the idea of narrowing our options down to just three wineries to visit made me realize how much I don’t know about California wineries! Luckily, I had a few tasters come into the winery in the weeks leading up to the trip, and I managed to wrangle some recommendations out of them. And by “some”, I mean a whole page full of winery names, so I had to do some digging to figure out which wineries would be the most exciting for us.

MacLaren Winery was the first winery we went to, and I think it ended up being our favorite of the trip. Cool-climate Syrahs, several single-vineyard offerings, and really elegant food wines. Steve Law, the owner and winemaker, is from Scotland, but spent 10 years in France learning to love wine before moving to Sonoma to make it himself. He doesn’t make much, 1000 cases at most, and it’s almost all Syrah. I love how different these Syrahs are from hot weather Walla Walla; it’s amazing how much climate impacts the taste of wine.

Next, we went to Loxton Winesrecommended to us by some Sonoma wine folks who we ran into in Walla Walla. Also a small winery, Chris Loxton focuses on Syrahs and Zinfandels; we liked the Zin the best (partly because we almost never see it here in Walla Walla). After MacLaren’s wines, these seemed really fruity and almost unbalanced compared to the high acidity of his Syrahs.

Our last stop of the day was Kunde Family Estate, a much larger winery than the first two we stopped at. The tasting room was crowded, and it was harder to get the attention of the tasting room staff, but eventually we got settled at the bar. Kunde owns a lot of vineyard, and their wine was very pleasant- maybe not special occasion wines, but very drinkable.

We also had lunch at The Girl and the Figwhich was super busy (a good sign, right?). I had their Moules-Frites (delicious!), and everyone else’s food looked great, too.

We’re headed back to Sonoma in two weeks; what is the one winery we should definitely not skip? 


3 thoughts on “Exploring Sonoma: One Winery at a Time”

  1. Looking forward to our winery trip to Santa Rosa and Napa/Sonoma.
    Will follow up with you tomorrow.
    Grandma Alice

  2. I can’t believe you were in CA and didn’t contact me! I would have been thrilled to scout for you and show you around. I’m getting back into my blogging routine myself. Next time defiantly go taste champagne. Tasting champagne “sparkling wine” so uber luxurious! You’ll love tasting at Arrowood winery, they have a love tasting room on a hill with a beautiful porch view. you could also taste by the fireplace in big comfy chairs. Highly recommend. You can also couch surf with me anytime. it’s the least I can do for all the Washington wine intel.

    1. I would totally have gotten in touch with you about it, but it was a super quick trip, and we spent most of it with family who live in the area! We actually went down a month later for another quick trip, but we only had about a day of wine tasting again. Next time, I’d love to get some recommendations! And if you’re ever in Walla Walla, let me know 🙂

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