Think Lady Napa has an iron grip on the lap of luxury? Think again. Sonoma may be your new delicious destination, Go ahead, jump ship, I won’t reveal your secrets.
The tiny town of Healdsburg is quickly becoming a deluxe destination. World class dining? No problem. Check out Barndiva, Checkerboard, Willi’s Wine Bar or the newest haute spot, Valette. Dustin Valette, chef owner, is a master of scrumptious, soulful, sophisticated flavors, with just the right touch of whimsy. Cocktails made with flare? Valette again, with their highly focused cocktail list, each libation a tasty twist on the tried and true. Or pop into Spoonbar for a sassy sip.
And most notably, the wine country. These wineries listed below will blow you away visually, viscerally, palatally.
Welcome to wow wine country.
Dan Gustafson, former real estate developer, spotted his new project, located just above picturesque Lake Sonoma, in 2002. He quickly fell in love with the location and promptly bought the eighty-seven acre parcel. Utilizing the fertile volcanic soil, Dan planted five acres of vines. The young vineyard blossomed into a stunning showcase for Cab, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Zin. Most of the land serves as an ecological preserve. The brand boasts a robust mailing list. Customers love the wines, the brand philosophy of ecological awareness and gorgeous views.
Speaking of gorgeous, Jordan winery has long been an object of enormous admiration, a brand that is equally revered by industry peers and consumers. From day one, founders Tom and Sally Jordan had a clear vision. They fulfilled it by building a stunning Chateau, and filling their winery cellar with classic, opulent Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Their son John Jordan, in partnership with winemaker Rob Davis, built on that vision. Rob has been with Jordan since the inaugural 1976 vintage, a near unheard of phenomena in the wine world. Whether it’s his award-winning, spectacular wines (that somehow, miraculously seem to improve with each vintage) or the hospitality standards that are so top-notch, many consider them the best in the wine world, Jordan is a “must visit” on any serious wine lover’s list.
Judy Jordan, founder, (and John Jordan’s sister) studied Earth Science/Geology at Stanford. Her heart, however, belonged to wine, specifically that of sparkling wine. In 1986, her dream of making Methode Champenoise wines in California was fulfilled, and J Vineyards was born. She chose Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley for its cool climate and soil diversity that made for a uniquely harmonious terroir. She launched her single vineyard Pinot Noir program in 1994, and later, Chardonnay. These days, you can experience a full on culinary pairings at the Bubble Lounge, or simply stop by a striking tasting room for a sip.
Quintessentially a family winery, Passalacqua represents five generations of land stewardship and grape growing. The U.S. chapter of the Passalacqua family album began back in 1865, when Francesco came to San Francisco from Genoa, Italy. He settled in the Healdsburg area and immediately planted vineyards, starting the sequence of multiple generations of growers, who stayed faithful to the land’s largesse. Jason Passalacqua is tasked with current family brand. The estate fruit sources are impeccable, only the best berries are used in production. Jessica Boone Bibro, winemaker, crafts wines that are effortlessly elegant, and emanate class and style.
The winery features a beautiful Tasting Deck where guests can lounge around in the ultra comfortable furnishings while partaking in library selections.
Everybody’s favorite cult Pinot producer, Williams Selyem, began as a shared dream of two friends, Burt Williams and Ed Selyem. Amateur winemakers, they started making wine on weekends, in 1979, in their garage. Over three decades later, from their first commercial vintage in 1981, their cult-status winery is thriving. Considered by many the pioneers of new standards for New World Pinot Noir winemaking, the wines are as thought after as ever. Bob Cabral, winemaking superstar, passed the baton to Jeff Mangahas, who continues the legacy of stellar winemaking. Their extensive portfolio includes many renowned vineyard sources, such as Allen, Bacigalupi, Bucher, Coastlands, Calegari, Ferrington, Foss, Heintz, Morning Dew, Olivet Lane, Papera, Precious Mountain, Rochioli, Terra de Promisio and Weir.