The Secrets of Sonoma
Discover small‑production wines that whisper to connoisseurs and collectors.
When people think of Sonoma wine, Pinot Noir comes first to mind, but the diversity of terroir makes the region suitable for both Burgundy and Bordeaux varietals to thrive. Sonoma’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean means cooler temperatures than in neighboring Napa Valley, and its 16 approved sub-appellations offer world-class wines across a range of styles. While its Burgundy varietals have taken center stage over the last few decades, the area first gained its foothold in winegrowing more than 100 years ago, through Zinfandel and field blends of mixed red grapes. Today, winemakers are preserving that heritage by turning to old-vine vineyards to create sumptuous new wines.
Adventurous connoisseurs are also looking to Sonoma for bottlings that most wine lovers look to Napa for—Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant versions with the structure and tannins to age well can be found, often for a smaller investment, from some of Sonoma’s family vintners that dot the landscape. Read on for a selection of under-the-radar, handcrafted wines from some of our favorite producers that show off eight of the county’s sub-appellations. Embedded from Fort Ross–Seaview in the mountains along the coast to Carneros and the Russian River Valley to Sonoma Mountain on the county’s eastern side, these small-production vineyards are worth contacting directly to sample their best vintages.