Labels to Learn
Along with Sonoma County's more popular wineries, there are literally dozens of winemakers whose labels you might want to learn. Big production doesn't always mean the best taste, and you can find some delightful bottles to take home even at the smallest mom-and pop operations in Sonoma County.
Valley of the Moon Winery
You know where the name came from, and now you can taste the wine that goes along with it. Located in Glen Ellen, this winery has been around since 1863, surviving multiple owners as well as Prohibition to become the longest-operating winery in the Glen Ellen area. The history remains, but the old buildings do not. They were torn down in the late 1990s to make way for a fancy new operation. Tastings and tours are available daily. For information about seasonal hours and events, go to
Kunde Estate Winery
This operation is in Kenwood, where a barn is the winery itself. If you think that's a little dated compared with newer and fancier facilities, just wait until you take a tour of the underground caves where Kunde ages its varietals in small oak barrels. It doesn't get much more old school than that. The tasting room is open daily from 10:30
Located right in Healdsburg, the Simi Winery is a local leader in the art of helping visitors understand how to better pair food and wine. Simi is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot varietals. Tastings and tours are available daily. Tours begin in a visitor's center that is paneled with wood from a 25,000-gallon barrel that once held wine in Simi's cellar. You can get a sneak peek (or a sneak taste, as it were) at some of the on-site chef's recipes by going to the Web site,