Sonoma County Wine Hiking Trails: Vineyard Hikes with Views
When I want to go wine tasting, my natural tendency, as a local, is to hop in the car and go find a tasting room. It’s the easiest route to a splash in the glass. No appointment, no planning. But so many wine lovers want to take their wine country getaways to another level, getting closer to the grapevines and the great outdoors. A few Sonoma County wineries have answered the call and added a whole new way to experience a wine tour: by hiking through the vineyard. Many of these vintners have some of the best views in the region. These reservations-required hikes vary in length, style, and frequency but all of them get visitors out of the tasting room and into the vines. Here’s a rundown on some of our favorite Sonoma County wine hikes.
Sonoma Wine Hiking Trails: Vineyard Hikes with Views in Sonoma County
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
The 1,200-acre Jordan Estate in Healdsburg offers plenty of room to roam, and the winery’s seasonal Vineyard Hike events cover about four miles of trails in a four-hour immersion like no other. Tours begin with continental breakfast or lunch at the winery chateau, then head out into the ranchland. The moderate tromp passes through woods, meadows, and sustainably farmed vineyards before a break at Jordan Vista Point, the highest hilltop on the scenic property. From the top, there’s a 360-degree view of the entire Alexander Valley. There’s also a great tasting of Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and other refreshments. From there, the group descends 300 feet into the olive orchards, winds around a lake, and heads past a cattle pasture to the chef’s garden and apiary. The experience concludes back at the winery chateau, with a charcuterie picnic and wine tasting on the terrace. Offered on select dates in April, May, June, October and November for $95 per person. These Sonoma County hikes are announced in Jordan’s monthly newsletter and sell out quickly, so it’s best to sign up for their mailing list.
Jordan Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA, 707-431-5250, jordanwinery.com
Seghesio Family Vineyards
The three-hour hiking experience with Seghesio Family Vineyards in Healdsburg revolves around the 130-acre Home Ranch, a parcel of land near Geyserville that has been in the family for generations. With this in mind, there are no better guides than Jim and Ned Neumiller, fourth- and fifth-generation vineyard managers for the site. The father-son duo meets participants at Seghesio’s winery and tasting room downtown, then shuttles the group to the ranch, about three miles out of town. From there, the group heads out for 2.5 miles amid 120-year-old vines—mostly Zinfandel and other Italian varietals. The hike slowly climbs to the top of a rise named Rattlesnake Hill; at the top visitors enjoy a delicious al fresco lunch featuring wines exclusively from the property. Offered on set dates in May, September and October for $75 per person.
Seghesio Home Ranch, 24035 Chianti Rd, Cloverdale, CA, 707-433-3579, seghesio.com
Alexander Valley Vineyards
What makes the lunch hike at Alexander Valley Vineyards different from the rest on this list? Weather permitting, this tromp is available every day at 10:30 a.m. (It is also the lowest-elevation of the Sonoma wineries hiking trails, so the views are of benchlands rather than mountains.) The 90-minute excursion is an easy stroll from the tasting room through the vineyards to an underground wine cave. Along the way, the group passes the winery building, the original Alexander Valley school building, and the Alexander homestead. Tour guides regale hikers with area history, which, in this part of the valley, dates back more than 150 years. They also provide perspective on the evolution of farming practices, and information about any wildlife you might see. The tour ends with a picnic lunch (and wine); visitors can enjoy their goodies on the deck at the tasting room or at picnic tables in the vineyard. Price: $50 per person. See vineyard hike flier for more details.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, 8644 Highway 128, Healdsburg, CA, 707-433-7209, avvwine.com
Kunde Family Winery
Farther south in Sonoma Valley, another historic winemaking family has offered hikes for several years. There are two different Sonoma County hiking options at Kunde Family Winery in Kenwood. Both are moderately strenuous. The first, dubbed “Hike & Taste in the Vineyards,” is a four-hour adventure that meanders from the tasting room through a range of ecosystems and native habitats. John Hardman, a longtime winery employee, gives this tour and offers basic science interpretation—and tastes of wine—along the way. The hike, which costs $30 per person, concludes back at the winery. The second option, dubbed a “Dog Hike,” is a similar itinerary, only it includes lunch and is designed for visitors and their dogs. This latter tour is led by winegrower Jeff Kunde and his dog Cooper. A portion of the $75 per-person fee will be donated to Dogwood Animal Rescue Project and the Sonoma County Humane Society. For more information about both hikes, see the website.
Kunde, 9825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA, 707-282-1537, kunde.com
It’s worth noting that other Sonoma County wine hikes might open in the next year. Bartholomew Park Winery, an organic estate once operated by Gundlach Bundschu, ran hikes on a trail system in the hills behind the winery, but the trails are still closed after the wildfires of October 2017. According to Liddy Parlato, creative strategist and brand manager, the nonprofit foundation that maintains the 375-acre property hopes to have the trails open again by fall. She said at the very latest, the trails would reopen in Spring 2019.
The oldest continuously-owned family winery in California, Gundlach Bundschu, has also been developing a fascinating Sonoma County hiking trail that winds up Arrowhead Mountain behind the winery. Unfortunately, the new trail was badly damaged during the October 2017 wildfires, and the launch of their Rhinefarm Estate hiking program has been postponed.
If you’d prefer to a hike without a guide, Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures, a program run by the Sonoma County Winegrowers, facilitates a number of self-guided walking tours, some of which also involve vineyard tromps. For more information, visit their website.