The Top Nine Small Sonoma Wineries You Don't Want To Miss

We've already mentioned that Sonoma has the most varied, and most numerous, wine growing sub-regions in the country. It stands to reason, then, that Sonoma wineries are also going to be varied — some old, some new; some large, some small; some concentrating one certain varietals.

In this article we want to look at nine of the smaller, family-owned Sonoma wineries. We'll limit our focus to the southern part of the massive country, to wineries in and around Sonoma, Kenwood, and Glen Ellen. It's a great area to explore, and small enough that you can visit a few wineries in a day.

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1. B Wise Vineyard & Cellar

B Wise Vineyard

Since he was a child, founder Brion Wise dreamed about becoming a winemaker. After leaving a career in engineering, he searched the globe (to all the winemaking regions) before falling in love with the Sonoma countryside. His focus is on reds with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room is open daily, no reservations are required. When you're there be sure to try their estate Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain with berry fruits, liquorice, vanilla, violet and notes of warm toasty oak.

His focus is on reds with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room is open daily, no reservations are required. When you're there be sure to try their estate Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain with berry fruits, liquorice, vanilla, violet and notes of warm toasty oak.

2. Bartholomew Park Winery

Bartholomew Park Winery

Founded in 1994 by sixth-generation Sonoma vintner Gundlach Bundschu. His vision was to produce site-specific wines from a vineyard at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain range. Tucked against Arroyo Seco, the vineyard's warm temperature, constant breeze and superior drainage made it ideal for making great wine.

The vineyard's stunning 300-acre park is perfect for vineyard walks, picnics and it's where you'll find their tasting room. Try their crisp Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of pineapple and fresh shaved ginger or the rose with aromas of just-ripe cherries, mandarin and chalk caves.

3. B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil Company

B R Cohn Winery

Since 1984, founder Bruch Cohn (former manager of the Doobie Brothers) has been making wines on vineyards that are nestled between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas Mountain Range. The charming tasting room is located in an historic 1920 ranch house.

We like the Wine & Chocolate Experience that pairs their Olive Hill estate Cabernets and Cabernet Port with chocolate truffles. You can also purchase their house brand olive oil that's pressed from the grove of Picholine olive trees.

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4. Orpheus Wines

Orpheus Wines

A small family-owned winery that took inspiration from the Greek demigod Orpheus, arbiter of music and poetry. Orpheus Wines founder Marc Krafft made their first wines in 2011. Book the Wine & Food Pairing workshop and you'll learn about the art and science behind flavors led by the delightful founder himself. There's also an art gallery and an artist behind all the artful wine labels.

5. Mayo Family Winery

Mayo Family Winery

It's refreshing to know that the Mayo Family Winery is still a small family-owned winery. They believe that single vineyard wines make the best wines and since the 1993 they've been creating just that — small batch, single-vineyard wines.

The wine tasting room is also refreshingly basic with picnic tables set under oak trees. We particularly like their Chardonnay from the Laurel Hill Vineyard, Unwooded. The fruit is forward with peach, grapefruit and kiwi with a steely mineral quality.

6. Paradise Ridge Winery

Paradise Ridge Winery

The story goes that when newlyweds Walter Byck and Marijke Hoenselaars (he an American working in Holland, she Dutch) left Holland, they searched for the right property in California. One day Walter came home and exclaimed, "I have found paradise!" They purchased 156 acres of land overlooking the Russian River in Sonoma County, naming it Paradise Ranch. The Byck family is now 22 members and growing and the winery is still family owned and famous for their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

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7. Scribe Winery

Scribe Winery

Newcomers to the winery scene are Sonoma-native brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani. At Scribe Winery, founded in 2007, the handsome young brothers grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sylvaner grapes.

Unlike many Sonoma wineries, you must make a reservation to visit. We think the reservation makes them more exclusive! Travel & Leisure magazine agrees and have said that Scribe is the "one game-changing Sonoma Winery you can't miss." High praise, indeed. Reservations are required for tastings.

8. VJB Vineyards & Cellars

VJB Vineyards

Meet the Belamonte family, with deep roots in Sonoma's wine making history. Not surprisingly with their Italian heritage, VJB offers a great roster of Italian inspired wines — prosecco, Barbera, Dolcetto (little sweet one), and the estate Montepulciano. You can do a standard tasting or book the Owner's Tasting where Owners Vittorio and Henry Belmonte will lead you through an exclusive tasting.

9. St Anne's Crossing

St. Anne's Crossing

Bing cherry, anise, fresh coffee bean, hints of dried cranberry and ground white pepper. At St. Anne's it's all about Zinfandel, a grape varietal from Croatia, and those are the flavors you'll experience. St. Anne's produces wine from fifteen single Zinfandel vineyards across Sonoma county.

You can't try them all but you can educate your palate on the subtle distinctions in grapes grown only a few miles from each other. Visit the tasting room or you can book the luxury VIP tour to meet your own private wine educator who will help you become a Zinfandel connoisseur.

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