5 Best Wineries in Sonoma & Napa, California

October 28, 2011 by

Napa Valley and the town of Sonoma are renown for their world-class wines, breath taking panoramic views, and sense of elegance and escape from reality. When planning your next trip to this romantic area, don’t be overwhelmed with the hundreds of winery choices. We’ve selected 5 of the many quality and unique wineries. Whether it’s the architecture, ambiance, gardens, history, or art that draws you to these wineries, they’re all unique in their own way.

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon has one of the most beautiful estates and visited wineries in Napa Valley, Domaine Chandon has a vast collection of art work throughout their grounds showcasing the natural beauty of Napa. In addition to the majestic landscape which includes vines, trees, ponds and, an inescapable view of the valley that sits right behind their spacious tasting room and much more. Domaine Chandon has a vast variety of handcraft wines. With a large selection of sparkling wines, it is no surprise to know that for Domaine Chandon it all starts at the vineyards.

Domaine Chandon is owned by Moet-Hennessey-Louis Vuitton, the massive and popular French holding company. Chandon is the first French owned California winery since 1973. Today they grow grapes suitable for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Simultaneously, Chandon opened a restaurant where their sparkling and still wines would best be complimented in an ideal setting for food and wine.

The Chandon facility is known for its tremendous landscaping starting with the entry road, the abstract fountains in the man-made ponds – to the ivy vines that wrap themsevles to the sides of the winery.

Buena Vista

Before there were vineyards in every valley north of San Francisco, before Napa and Sonoma were household names, before there was a California wine industry at all, there was Buena Vista. Founded in 1857, Buena Vista Carneros is California’s oldest premium winery, and its history is as colorful as it is proud. Just outside the town of Sonoma, the original winery is now a California Historic Landmark, and home to our Tasting Room & Visitor’s Center.

One of California’s firsts is now one of California’s finest wineries. Set along the south-facing hillside overlooking San Pablo Bay, Buena Vista Carneros’s breathtaking property is one of the most significant in Carneros. Straddling the southern-most tips of Sonoma and Napa Counties, wind and fog sweep in daily from the bay to cool the vines and extend the growing season. Nearly 500 acres in this most spectacularly situated region of Carneros, Buena Vista Carneros’ Ramal Vineyard boasts a remarkable number and range of sites with more than 100 seperate vineyard blocks based on topography, geology and microclimates.

Buena Vista winery, one of the oldest wineries in California, produces boutique Sonoma wines, including Carneros Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Gris. Buena Vista Carneros Winery is open for wine tours and tastings in downtown Sonoma.

joseph phelps winery

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Joseph Phelps Vineyards, an independent, estate-based winery located outside of St. Helena. The wines of Joseph Phelps Vineyards made their debut in the fall of 1974. The winery and home vineyards are in Spring Valley, a small fold in the hills east of St. Helena, with additional vineyards located in the wine growing regions of Stags Leap, Carneros and Rutherford. Among the wines produced at Phelps are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The flagship wine, a Bordeaux-styled blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, is sold under the proprietary name, “Insignia.”

Kuleto Estate

Overlooking Lake Hennessey and Rutherford, the 761 mountainous acres that are now the Kuleto Estate Winery were purchased in 1993. Owner and renowned restaurateur, Pat Kuleto, had the vision to craft ultra-premium Napa Valley wines and create a stunning setting that serves as a spectacular venue for visitors to the Napa Valley.

The estate grown wines are handcrafted from hillside vineyards farmed on Hennessey Ridge and overlooking Pritchard Hill. Diverse micro-climates, Hennessey Basin soils, and elite clonal selections produce sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Rosato, and Chardonnay. The custom built, state-of-the-art 17,000 square foot, gravity flow facility is a showcase example of technology blended with old world charm. Constructed of stone, huge hand-hewn beams, and custom ironwork, Kuleto Estate Winery is nestled into an existing hillside at the top of the estate with sweeping views of the vineyards and the Napa Valley below. The winery and surrounding grounds are every bit as spectacular as the wines. Kuleto’s gift for creating magic presents a mise en scene that transports guests to the outdoor lifestyle of the Tuscan countryside. Tours and Tastings are offered by appointment, seven days a week.

best winery


Fueled initially by the inspiration and winemaking skills of Joel Peterson, aided and abetted by his business partner W. Reed Foster, Ravenswood winery has been dedicated to top quality, hand-crafted wine since the first crush in 1976. Every Ravenswood wine carries a unique vintage and vineyard identity in addition to the intense powerful – gothic – character with which the winery has come to be associated.

The rock-walled tasting room is tucked into the hillside off a country road. There is an offbeat, quirky feel to the place; the staff as well as visitors can taste a range of wines and have some fun. Two tasting counters host the adventurous as they taste their way through the extensive list. The winery produces more than 40 different wines including 15 Zinfandels, six Merlots, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Petite Sirah, Bordeaux blends, Rhone-style blends, and a few whites.

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1 comment

  1. Ramona says:

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been doing some research on Napa wineries and PlumpJack seems to have a few great options.

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