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The Five Best Wineries You’ve Never Heard of in Santa Rosa

Where to go in an up-and-coming (and often overlooked) wine town.

Matanzas Creek Winery.

 

It’s easy blow past Santa Rosa on the way to weekend destinations like Russian River, Healdsburg, or even Bodega Bay. But it’s worth hopping off 101 to explore the historic and growing population of vineyards and wineries in the area. Once you dip below 65 m.p.h. on the speedometer, there’s plenty to discover: Santa Rosa wineries are up and coming, offering some killer wines at reasonable prices, and—dare we say—they’re hip. Here are five of our favorites. 

Winery: DeLoach Vineyards 
Wine to try: Custom Label red blend, $150/case
What makes this place special: There is a circus of options at this crowd-pleasing winery, from wine blending parties and fireside tastings to gourmet wine and food pairings, wine classes, and vineyard tours. DeLoach has been making award-wining pinot noir, chardonnay, and zinfandel since 1975, but the Santa Rosa Marathon red blend is the hottest ticket at the moment—you get to customize the label and the wine is a steal. When the custom labels run out, grab a glass of their juicy, dusty, round zinfandel and explore the organic and biodynamic gardens and vineyards. 

Winery: Inman Family Wines 
Wine to try: RRV chardonnay, $35
What makes this place special: Owner Kathleen Inman is a pioneer in organic farming and natural winemaking, and she does everything from tractor driving and winemaking to pouring wines in the tasting room. Inman offers “a bed and get your own breakfast,” where you can stay the night and make dinner with veggies from the organic vegetable garden. Bottles here are spendy, but the process and product are well worth it, and the wines are elegant, layered, and vivacious. 

The tasting room at DeLoach.

Winery: Romililly Wines 
Wine to try: Russian River Valley pinot noir, $35
What makes this place special: Romililly Wines opened a new tasting room last July in one of Historic Railroad Square’s oldest buildings. Operating by appointment only (and maxing out at six guests), Romililly turns out smooth, crisp wines: The pinot noir has a broad flavor profile that features cherry and a hint of toasty vanilla. If you have too much, head downstairs to Flying Goat Coffee for a solid cup of joe, but avoid stopping there first—or get a palate cleanser after—since coffee and wine do not make good bedfellows.

Winery: Matanzas Creek Winery 
Wine to try: Sauvignon blanc ($22–$50)
What makes this place special: Perched on a hillside overlooking vineyards and acres of lavender fields, Matanzas Creek is the kind of spot to linger for a few hours or even all day. Bring some sandwiches, buy a bottle, picnic, play some bocce, explore the gardens and vineyard, and hang out on the oak-shaded deck. The winery focuses on sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and merlot. The merlots are expensive but powerful and elegant. And the line of five sauvignon blancs is fun to explore—sampling several is a great way to figure out what you dig most in this popular and refreshing varietal. 

Winery: Siduri 
Wine to try: Willamette Valley pinot noir, $24
What makes this place special: Siduri is an unpretentious winery in a warehouse, ad it’s found a cult following among pinot enthusiasts. The 25 pinots come from all over the place: You’ll taste six different pinots hailing from Oregon to Santa Barbara (prices vary a lot, too, from $24 to $120). We selected the Willamette Valley pinot because Siduri has been making wines from this now very trendy region for over 20 years, and it’s a standout. Expect bright flavors of dark fruit, earth, and even a hint of cigar. Let them know what you like in a wine—or even just flavors you like in general—and they’ll find something that suits. 

 

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