You Think You Know Wine Tasting? Sonoma Is Redefining The Game With New Tasting Experiences

Very often, when outsiders think about the “Wine Country,” they tend to place their focus on Napa Valley. But the truth is, Sonoma is full of stunning wines and experiences that are simply too good to keep a secret! Wineries found nestled deep inside of the Moon Mountain AVA have stories to tell, and wines to celebrate. Here’s an article that features just of few of the many amazing wines that call Sonoma their home.

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You Think You Know Wine Tasting? Sonoma Is Redefining The Game With New Tasting Experiences

By Alyson Krueger

Original article found on Forbes.com on June 13, 2016

Wine tasting trips are a treat; what’s not to love about sipping wines in their natural settings? Even if you know nothing about wine, you can appreciate the tastes, the views, the cheese plates and bread sticks. But as the days go on, and the wine starts working, the process can be slightly redundant. The barrels, the vines, the Pinots, the tasting rooms, they start blending together. 

Winemakers in Sonoma are addressing the problem by getting creative with their tasting experiences. Some are building tasting rooms in unusual or historically-rich settings. Others are offering activities for kids or restless adults to do in addition to trying wine. The result is a wine region that is fun and memorable to visit; there is no way to mix these wineries up! [Photo: The Bubble Lounge at the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma]

Here are a few to check out:


Three Sticks Winery At The Adobe

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In the mid-1800s Sonoma was occupied by the Republic of Mexico under the rule of General Mariano Vallejo. The team built a series of stunning homes to showcase their might including one built by the General’s brother, Captain Salvador Vallejo. His residence is the only structure that remains today, and it was recently bought and renovated by Three Sticks Winery (owned by private equity big-shot turned winemaker Bill Price. Three Sticks stands for the three Roman Numerals that follow his name.)

It’s worth a trip to downtown Sonoma just to see the Adobe. The home, officially named the the historic Vallejo–Casteñada Adobe, was built in 1842, and you can still see the original wood paneling and kitchen. Artifacts that were unearthed during the renovation are displayed on the wall. But the winery also uses the residence as a reservation-only tasting room. Sommeliers bring you into the backyard, an area scattered with cozy bonfires and plush couches and chairs, and consult with you about your wine preferences. Then they serve you and chat with you as if you are a friend in their historic home.  [Photo Credit: Douglas Friedman]

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The Swimming Pool at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery

As one would expected from the winery owned by the famed director of The Godfather, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery is hardly traditional. The tasting rooms are elaborate and adorned with movie memorabilia, including Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather and the original automobile from Tucker. Several Academy Awards on display.

Perhaps most unusual is that the winery has two swimming pools totaling 3,600 square feet. As the website says, “Francis Ford Coppola wanted to create a place for families to come and enjoy all the best things in life together.” You can relax on cushy lounge chairs or in a caSbana while trying the wines he produces. There is even a bocce court, if you want to take the action to the next level.

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The Field of Dreams at Balletto Vineyards

In 2004, some of John Balletto’s vineyard crew approached him and asked if he would sponsor their league baseball team. Belletto, the owner of the vineyard, not only said yes; he set aside four acres of land for a baseball field.

Overtime the vineyard staff cultivated the baseball field (using leftover wine products like soil), and it is now regulation-size with bases, a net for catching loose balls, and a place for spectators. Every Sunday staff from area vineyards compete in a competitive league. Head over there to try their homegrown Chardonnays and Pinots and watch some high-level baseball. [Photo Credit: Balletto Vineyards & Winery]

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Keller Estate’s Vintage Car Collection

After driving up the long, winding road leading to the Keller Estate in the Petaluma Valley, the first item to catch your eye is not a posh tasting room or even rows of vines, but a statue of a vintage car.

The vineyard is owned by Arturo Keller who owns one of the world’s finest collections of vintage vehicles – he has the best Mercedes-Benz collection outside of the manufacturer’s own in Germany- and his cars are kept on the property. While most are stashed away in private garages around the 650-acres of land, a few are available for the public to view. There is also car-themed art like stain glass windows and statues. The entire scene feels timeless – Try their wine, and then go for a photo shoot.

The Wine Ambassador is all about helping you discover hidden gems inside of the wide world of wine! If you're planning a trip to the Wine Country, be sure to put Sonoma on your list of places to explore - we promise. It will be worth it!