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Take the Sonoma Square WineWalk

Thursday, January 19th, 2012 | Posted by

By SUZIE RODRIGUEZ / Sonoma Valley Correspondent

Less than two years ago, Sonoma Plaza was home to half a dozen wine tasting rooms.  Today there are fourteen, with two more set to open soon.

Ed 'Fast Eddie' McCormick pours at Two Amigos tasting room on Sonoma's historic plaza, Jan. 17, 2012. (Jeff Kan Lee)

Collectively known as the “Sonoma Square WineWalk,” the tasting rooms are rapidly gaining a reputation as Sonoma County’s premier destination for sampling top-notch, small-lot wines. They even have their own WineWalk map, which you can obtain for free at the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau on the Plaza (the back side offers 2-for-1 tasting coupons). Many, though not all, tasting rooms waive the tasting fee if you purchase one or more bottles.

A stroll through Sonoma Square’s tasting rooms reveals a diversity of wine and atmosphere:

1. Adobe Road Winery: Owned by professional race car driver Kevin Buckler and his wife, Debra. Tasting room: bright, cheerful, lots of art, an indoor wine lounge and an outdoor patio with firepit. Specialties: Cabernet, Zinfandel and Syrah. Tasting Fee: $5/4 wines or $10/4 single vineyard designates. Open daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 481 First Street West, 939-7967.

2. Charles Creek Vineyards: Owned by Bill and Gerry Brinton. Tasting room: Ms. Moo-Lot, a sculptured cow made from hundreds of used corks, greets visitors; gold ribbons won by the wines, paintings by local artists, the Brintons’ line of food products. Specialties: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay. Tasting fee: $5/5 wines. Open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 483 First Street West, 935-3848. www.charlescreek.com

3. Eric K James Vineyards: Owned by James (Jim) Walker and Eric K. Glunt. Tasting room: tucked away in the Spanish-style Mercado’s courtyard, wine cave feel, tables and a bar, small patio. Specialties: Syrah, Pinot Noir. Tasting Fee: $10/flight (usually 5 wines). Open Wed-Sun, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 452 First Street East, 996-1364. http://growine.com/tasting-room.html

4. Hawkes Winery: Owned by brothers Stephen and Jacob Hawkes and their families. Tasting Room: converted Craftsman bungalow, bright and open, patio with umbrella tables; Saturdays, May to October, a food truck/vendor pairs food and wine (food price waived with wine purchase). Specialties: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay. Tasting Fee: $10/5 wines. Open daily, noon-6 p.m., 383 First Street West, 938-7620. www.hawkeswine.com

5. Haywood: Owned by Peter Haywood. Tasting room: Open, friendly, cozy; an every-Thursday “Wine-Down,” 5-7 p.m., offers $5 glasses paired with local Laura Chenel cheese. Specialties: Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay. Tasting Fee: $10/6 wines (waived with purchase). Open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 25 East Napa Street (Suite C), 933-3001. www.haywoodwinery.com

6. Highway 12: Owned by Michael Sebastiani, Paul Giusto, Doug Offenbacher. Tasting Room: spacious, friendly, one of Sonoma’s finest old buildings. All wines served are grown along Highway 12 in Sonoma Valley. Specialties: Cabernet, Chardonnay, Red Blends. Tasting Fee: Complimentary. Open daily, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 498 First Street East, 938-8091. www.highway12winery.com

7. R2 Wine Company: Owned by brothers Roger and Richard Roessler. Tasting Room: Open, airy, warm earth tones, elegant, patio overlooking Broadway. Specialties: Rhône White and Red, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. Tasting Fee: $8/5 wines. Open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 654 Broadway, 933-1330. r2winecompany.com

8. Roche Winery: Owned by Joe and Genevieve Roche. Tasting Room: Historic 1940s Craftsman-style bungalow with fireplace, wide porch, shaded patio; daily appetizer menu. Specialties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Dessert Wines. Tasting Fee: $5/6-9 tastes (parties greater than 8, additional fee). Open daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 122 West Spain Street, 800-825-9475. www.rochewinery.com

9. Roessler Cellars: Owned by Craig & Kathryn Hall, Roger & Richard Roessler. Tasting Room: 1930s Tudor-style home of the Sebastiani wine family, wooden wine bar, fireplace, comfortable feel. Specialties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay. Tasting Fee: $10/5 wines. Open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 380 First Street West, 933-4440. www.roesslercellars.com

10. Sojourn Cellars:  Owned by Craig & Ellen Haserot, Erich Bradley. Tasting Room: Sojourn asks you to make an appointment and then seats you around a table with other guests for a comparative tasting of, and conversation about, the wines. Specialties: Pinot Noir, Cabernet. Tasting Fee: $25. Open daily by appointment, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 141 East Napa Street, 938-7212. www.sojourncellars.com

11. Sonoma Enoteca: Owned by Andrew Guerico. Tasting room: Sunny, Mediterranean-style setting, long curved wooden tasting bar, wine-related gear for sale. Specialty: Collective of 10 family wineries. Tasting Fee: $5/5 wines. Open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 35 East Napa Street, 935-1200. www.sonomaenoteca.com

12. Spann Vineyards: Owned by Peter and Betsy Spann. Tasting Room: Open, artsy space shared with the Saret Gallery; stunning modern photography covers walls. Specialties: Malbec, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot. Tasting Fee: $10/6 wines. Open daily, 12-6 p.m., 111 East Napa Street, 996-1330. www.spannvineyards.com

13. Two Amigos: Owned by Bob Briner and Squire Fridell. Unpretentious, laugh-laden atmosphere thanks to owners who often wear Groucho glasses. Specialties: Sniff, Swirl, Sip & Giggle. Tasting Fee: $10/8 wines. Open daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 25 East Napa Street, 799-7146. www.twoamigoswines.com

14. Westwood: Owned by John Kelly and partners. Tasting Room: Off small private courtyard at the end of an alley; comfy couches and laid-back atmosphere give it the feel of a friend’s living room. Tasting Fee: $10/ varies (one tasting fee comped for every $50 purchase). Specialties: Pinot Noir, Syrah. Open daily 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 11 East Napa Street (Suite 3), 935-3246. www.westwoodwine.com

15. Bryter Estates. Owner: Terin Ignozzi. Set to open late January/early February at 25 East Napa Street, forming a tasting room trio with Two Amigos and Haywood. Ignozzi, also Bryter’s winemaker, recently submitted three wines to the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition–the first wines she’d ever entered in a contest. All three won, including a Double Gold for her 2010 Sonoma Coast Affine Chardonnay. www.bryter.com

16. Kamen Estate Wines: Owner: Larry Silver. Kamen, which specializes in estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, will be opening a tasting room at 111 East Napa Street by April 1. www.kamenwines.com

  • KM

    Wow! a veritable wine vortex in Sonoma. Winter is a great time to explore the tasting rooms and the plaza shops.

  • Suzie Rodriguez

    Vortex is a good word!

  • Pamamo

    Sonoma is a great destination for wine. Looking forward to the opening of BRYTER Estates and tasting the award winning wines!

  • Cheryl

    Be sure to stop by Sojourn… Their Pinot is incredible!

Writer Spotlight

Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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