Awash with boutique wineries and spectacular vines, the Russian River Valley nestled in Sonoma County doesn’t disappoint.
Dreaming of California wine tasting? The possibilities are endless with close to 5,000 wineries and 139 AVAs. If you’re overwhelmed by the numbers, try touring the Russian River Valley for roads less traveled and experience hidden gems. The Russian River Valley is one of the18 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in Sonoma County. Whether spending a few hours passing through or a long weekend settling in, don’t miss these outstanding sipping occasions on a smaller, more intimate, scale.
WHERE IS RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY?
This wine-producing treasure is located in northern California. Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, and Sebastopol provide a cozy, small-town circumference. The closest airport is STS – the Charles M. Schulz Santa Rosa airport or SFO – San Francisco, one hour south of Santa Rosa. (There are more flight options for getting in and out of SFO.)
Best Times to Visit
To beat the summer tourist crowds (and long pour lines) vintners recommend the Fall. Parking lots are mostly empty and the weather is still a sunny 70 degrees. Perfect picnic weather. Bright, colorful vine leaves provide gorgeous backdrops for your Insta feed. Also, harvests are in, allowing winemakers more time to chat about their vintages and varietals.
The Russian River Valley is a long flat 25-mile stretch nestled between the hillsides and follows the meandering Russian River.
At night, coastal fog originating from the nearby Pacific Ocean settles on the grapevines. This blanket of moisture cools the hot temperatures from the day and allows thin-skin grapes (like world-famous Pinot Noirs) to thrive. With 125,000+ acres, the Russian River Valley encapsulates two smaller AVAs, Green Valley and Chalk Hill, to share this unique micro-climate.
WHERE TO SIP
There are so many wineries in Russian River Valley to visit, you’ll never sip them all in. At least not on your first visit. Listing the “top” wineries are subjective, but a few of our favorite Russian River wineries include…
- Aperture Cellars
- Baldassari Wines
- Dutton Estate Winery
- Gary Farrell Winery
- J Vineyards & Winery
- Kosta Brown
- La Crema
- Paul Hobbs
- Thomas George Estates
- Woodenhead Wine
WHERE TO STAY
Northern California has plenty of hotels to choose from. But for easy accessibility, plan Santa Rosa as your jumping off point. All wineries are within an easy twenty-minute drive-time. Plus, shopping and dining opportunities are aplenty.