a man playing his guitar with speaker outdoor with 2 people listening

Uncover a Unique Wine Tasting Experience in Sonoma

Not all wine tastings are created equal. Sure, the wines themselves set certain tastings apart from others. Sometimes, however, supplemental options and activities can help create a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience you’ll remember forever.

Across Sonoma County, a handful of wineries have become skilled at building one-of-a-kind, unique and outdoor wine experiences for guests in conjunction with good old-fashioned wine-tasting. Here are six of our faves. Advance reservations are required, and all Sonoma wineries require face masks until you are seated at your table. Seatings for all winery experiences have been modified for safety standards.

Unique Wine Tasting Experiences Map

Ultimate Wine Tasting Experiences in Sonoma County

jordan winery outdoor wine and food tasting in sonoma vineyard
Jordan Winery’s Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting now offered Thursday through Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Jordan Winery

Most visitors to Jordan Winery in Healdsburg never get to see the vineyards—they spend most of their time at the winery chateau. This is what makes both the Estate Tour & Tasting and Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting so special. Although the chauffeured Estate Tour & Tasting excursion is closed to the public through the end of 2020, Jordan Estate Rewards members can book private tours for up to eight guests. The three-hour luxury experience explores multiple destinations on the 1,200-acre estate and concludes at Jordan’s highest hilltop with a seated wine tasting with food pairings. During the Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting, guests sip on silky cabernet sauvignons on a picturesque hilltop at the Jordan Estate. Visitors will enjoy a welcome toast of Jordan Chardonnay before a short hike up to the winery’s Chateau Block hilltop vineyard, where three vintages of cabernet sauvignon and a selection of artisanal salumi from Journeyman Meat Co await. The Chateau Block Vineyard Tasting ($75 per person) is offered Thursday through Monday at 10:30 a.m. Book your experience online.

1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA, 800-654-1213, jordanwinery.com
The “Wishing Tree,” an old oak tree where guests can write and hang wishes for posterity to record.
The “Wishing Tree” at Belden Farms where guests can write and hang wishes for posterity to record.

Belden Barns

The property at Belden Barns, on Sonoma Mountain, has been a dairy farm, a prune orchard, and a rural retreat. This history is very much part of the winery’s identity today. Though the destination doesn’t technically have a tasting room, Belden Barns hosts visitors for private tastings, and those often include a tour and walkabout of the 55-acre property. Upcoming expansion plans include a tasting room with a commercial kitchen and creamery, as well as some farm animals. Today, visitors will check out the 3-acre farm, sample some home-cooked food pairings, and marvel at the view of San Pablo Bay. This wine tasting experience ends at the “Wishing Tree,” an old oak tree where guests can write and hang wishes for posterity to record. For wines, guests will enjoy seven varietals, including two sparkling wines and a gruner veltliner, the only one in Sonoma County.

5561 Sonoma Mountain Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, 415-577-8552, beldenbarns.com
outdoor woodfired pizza and wine tasting in sonoma county
Backyard Nights at Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves with Geyserville’s Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria

Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves

Hidden in the hills near the end of a narrow road in western Dry Creek, Bella Vineyards is worth the hunt off the valley’s main wine road. One of its new “backyard” experiences, their new Backyard Night experience is a dream for wine and pizza lovers. Enjoy an evening of addictive pies from Geyserville’s Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria—made and baked on-site in Diavola’s portable wood-fired oven—while live music by favorite local bluegrass artists lingers in the painted sky during sunset. Guests pair their pies with hand-selected sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and zinfandels during this casual, romantic dinner—sure to score big points for a surprise date night in wine country. Known for its spicy zinfandels, Bella is offering an array of outdoor backyard experiences Friday through Sunday by reservation only. Book your private table on Tock.

9711 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, 707-473-9171, bellawinery.com
outdoor table setting for cheese and wine tasting at Chalk Hill Estate Alexander Valley
Terrace views at Chalk Hill Estate, just outside of Alexander Valley.

Chalk Hill Winery

Chalk Hill Winery, the most recognizable face of the Chalk Hill appellation, is now offering two outdoor patio experiences Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. by reservation only. Enjoy a private terrace tasting with an optional cheese and charcuterie platter or if you’re a Chalk Hill wine club member, indulge in Chef Alec’s new Fried Chicken and Caviar Chardonnay Pairing for Two. Book your experience on Tock and don’t miss one of the best views in Healdsburg.

10300 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA, 707-657-4837, chalkhill.com
outdoor private wine tasting in sonoma county benzinger winery
Photo courtesy of Benzinger Winery.

Benziger Family Winery

Located just outside Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, Benziger Family Winery is one of Sonoma County’s oldest family-owned wineries. The winery offers a handful of different options for enjoying the property outdoors. On the Private Tribute Estate Tour & Tasting ($55 per person), for instance, visitors take a tram out into the vineyards to learn about biodynamic farming and explore a wine cave. The tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and is limited to a private group of 4 guests. Explore more outdoor wine tasting experiences on their website. Now open Thursday through Monday by appointment only.

1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, 888-490-2739, benziger.com
Gundlach Bundschu Pingauzer Wine Tour
The Gun Bun Pinzgauer above the winery’s Rhinefarm Estate. Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu.

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Without experiencing it yourself, it’s difficult to describe the Pinzgauer Excursion at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, just outside the town of Sonoma. It’s part vineyard tour and tasting and part thrilling amusement park ride. Climb aboard the open-air military vehicle with 10 of your closest friends and tour the Bundschu family’s 320-acre estate, disembarking to taste five wines paired with cheese and charcuterie as well as enjoy a spectacular view of the Sonoma Valley. Minimum group size of 6 people and maximum 10 people, reservation required. This unusual private wine tasting experience is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and is only currently available for private groups. Visit their website to explore more outdoor wine tasting experiences.

2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma, CA, 707-938-5277, gunbun.com

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About the Author

Born and raised in rural Kansas, Lisa Mattson fell in love with wine during college in South Florida and worked for a wine magazine before moving to Northern California. She spent almost a decade working as a writer, marketing director and photographer/videographer for Jordan Winery and now serves as a hospitality design and marketing consultant for several wineries, including Jordan. She also designs succulent gardens under the name Sonoma Succulents. When she’s not eating and sipping her way through Sonoma County in the summer and Baja California Sur in the winter, she travels the world with her husband in search of new succulents, ethnic foods, snorkeling spots and tiki bars.

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