Water tower at entrance of Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Sonoma County, California

Martin Ray Winery

Cover: Water tower at entrance of Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Driving up Laguna Road toward Martin Ray Winery, the first thing you’ll notice is a water tower soaring high above the vines against a perfect Sonoma sky. As you turn down the long drive, vibrant flowers and olive trees welcome you to the beautiful, historic winery just west of Santa Rosa.

Flowers & olive trees welcome you to Martin Ray Winery
Flowers & olive trees welcome you to Martin Ray Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While we’d tasted Martin Ray’s wines over the years, this was our first visit to the winery and we quickly realized we’d uncovered a gem. Serene and lavishly landscaped, the winery is one of those where you grab a glass, find a chair near the vines or a table next to the gardens, and casually enjoy the wine country experience.

Relax in a chair near the vines at Martin Ray Winery
Relax in a chair near the vines
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We visited on a Saturday afternoon during Grill 116, a tasting event hosted by 12 wineries along Route 116 in West Sonoma County where attendees sampled their way through wines and grilled specialties along the route.

Grill 116 event at Martin Ray, Sonoma County, California
Grill 116 event at Martin Ray 
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Tasting at Grill 116 at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa
Tasting at Grill 116 at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As visitors meandered about, enjoying the food, wines and a glorious Sonoma afternoon, we caught up with Andy Barker, Director of Consumer Sales & Hospitality, who gave us a tour and shared a bit of the winery’s history along the way – and quite a history it does have.

Kim Hull & Andy Barker, Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Kim Hull & Andy Barker, Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The oldest continually operating winery in Sonoma County

Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Sonoma County, California
Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Oh, the stories the vineyards surrounding the winery could tell. Martin Ray is the oldest continuously operating winery in Sonoma County and one of the oldest in all of California.

Back in 1881, Twin Fir Winery set up a vineyard and winery on this spot in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. In 1902, an Italian immigrant, Rafael Martini, purchased the winery and, in the years following, Martini further developed the estate, building a stable and bunk house where Italian immigrants stayed during harvest. Today, the Martin Ray Tasting Room is housed in this very structure.

Martin Ray Tasting Room, Santa Rosa, California
Martin Ray Tasting Room
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tanks were crafted from old-growth redwood in 1904 and, soon thereafter, Martini turned the operations over to his sons. The Martinis produced wines that put the winery on the map. Enduring prohibition by producing sacramental wines, the winery survived and the Martinis resumed making wines for the public after it was repealed in 1933.

Old-growth redwood tanks at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Old-growth redwood tanks at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 1950, Enrico Prati joined the Martini family, and the new Martini & Prati label produced wines at the location until the winery was sold to Courtney Benham in 2003.

Martin Ray Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Martin Ray Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Courtney Benham brings Martin Ray Wines to Sonoma County

One of the reasons I love visiting a winery is hearing the history of the vineyard, the winemakers and the winery while walking the grounds and tasting the wine. Somehow, from then on, when the wine fills your glass, the provenance, the terroir, and the winery visit converge in your glass along with the juice, bringing the wine country experience to you as you taste the wine, wherever you may be in the world.

2014 Martin Ray Winery Pinot Noir Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
2014 Martin Ray Winery Pinot Noir
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

By the time Courtney Benham acquired the Martini & Prati location in 2003, the winery had seen better days and was on the decline. Benham, who had acquired the rights to the Martin Ray brand in 1990, purchased the Martini & Prati vineyards and winery in 2003 and set about renovating the property, bringing it to modern standards, while still embracing its history and tradition.

Today, the winery is a great example of form and function coexisting. The beautiful barrel room serves as a stunning backdrop to parties and events but, when harvest rolls around, the tables are cleared out and the room is used as a production facility.

Beautiful Martin Ray barrel room serves as a stunning backdrop to parties and events Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Beautiful Martin Ray barrel room serves as a stunning backdrop to parties and events
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

State of the art storage facilities are housed in buildings that once were home to over 1.5 million gallons of the old redwood storage tanks. Utilizing a variety of production equipment and fermentation methods, the Martin Ray winemakers have at their disposal the tools required to produce the award-winning, artisanal wines for which they are known and respected.

Martin Ray production facilities Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Martin Ray production facilities
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Barrel room at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Barrel room at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Leaving the barrel rooms and production facilities, we wandered over to the serene setting of the pavilion located under the water tower, which is available for corporate retreats and also used for winery events, such as wine under the stars evenings.

Event pavilion at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Sonoma County, California
Event pavilion at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Lush landscaping at Martin Ray Winery, Sonoma County, California
Lush landscaping at Martin Ray Winery
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Speaking of wine, it was time to do some more tasting – next stop, the tasting room.

Yield to tasters, Martin Ray Winery, Sonoma County, California
Yield to tasters, Martin Ray Winery
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Martin Ray tasting room

Tasting room at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Tasting room at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Welcomed by a knowledgeable and friendly staff, the low-key tasting room is just what you’d expect in such an inviting atmosphere.

Martin Ray's casual tasting room
Martin Ray’s casual tasting room
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Martin Ray Wines

We’d tasted the Russian River Valley Chardonnay & Rosé during our tour and we really liked both wines and decided to also try/take home a few of the limited release wines. For our chardonnay choice, we selected the 2014 Mill Station Vineyard-Dutton Ranch Chardonnay from Green Valley.

While I’m generally not a chardonnay fan, Greg is, so we try to find chardonnays that appeal to both our tastes. This one fit the bill, refreshing and not too oaky, with a richness and clean finish. As far as the rosé – we’d loved the 2015 Estate Grown Rosé. Bone dry, complex, crisp – just a perfect summer wine.

Next up, the 2013 Puccioni Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel. Robust with an earthy tone and nicely balanced. Liked it, and in the box it went.

Martin Ray 2013 Puccioni Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel
Martin Ray 2013 Puccioni Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Time to get serious, we moved on to the 2013 Martin Ray Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. A truly special wine, the Cab was full bodied, rich and simply divine. This one was a definite purchase and probably will make an appearance around the holidays.

Martin Ray 2013 Martin Ray Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley
Martin Ray 2013 Martin Ray Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Martin Ray 2007 Diamond Peak District Cabernet Sauvignon
Martin Ray 2007 Diamond Peak District Cabernet Sauvignon
Photo: Ryan Hull © Chasing Light Media

Martin Ray has a small quantity of older vintages available in their library collection. Highly-praised by fans and pros alike, you can also find Martin Ray wines on many quality restaurant wine lists.

Certified Sommelier and general manager of Boulder, Colorado’s L’Atelier, Ryan Hull explains why he regularly features Martin Ray wines in the restaurant:

Martin Ray was legendary…one of the first to bring the French philosophies of wine making and vineyard management to California. The proof is in the pudding. This is apparent from the juice in the glass.

I was recently pouring the 2007 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon by the glass and nearly every customer opted for a second. Amazing vintage, incredible complexity and luscious fruit.”

– Ryan Hull, CS & GM, L’Atelier

Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visiting Martin Ray

Getting there: Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery is located on the quieter side of the 101, about 10 miles west of downtown Santa Rosa. The address is 2191 Laguna Road, Santa Rosa, California 95401.

Hours: The tasting room is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

Book a tour or reserve a box lunch in advance. The winery welcomes visitors to pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful gardens while having lunch or, call two days in advance to order a box lunch for your visit. A variety of tours and tastings are available and can be reserved on the Martin Ray website.


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Martin Ray water tower, Santa Rosa, California
Martin Ray water tower, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California

Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa: A luxury Sonoma wine country hotel

Cover: Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Quietly tucked away amongst the vineyards just off the 101, Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa treats guests to a luxurious and relaxing wine country retreat when visiting Sonoma.

Vintner's Inn Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A four-diamond luxury hotel owned by Don and Rhonda Carano of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards, the wine country inn exudes casual elegance.

Our Vintner’s Inn stay was in conjunction with the Rodney Strong Master Blender experience, one of our all-time most enjoyable adventures, with fabulous wine, amazing food, vineyard visits led by the winery’s viticulturist, sessions with Rodney Strong’s winemakers to learn about the winemaking process, a blending seminar led by Rodney Strong’s head winemaker, and luxurious accommodations at Vintner’s Inn.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The rooms

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Upstairs fireplace room at Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we opened the door to our upstairs fireplace room, sunlight flooded into the warm, inviting spot we would call home during our time in Sonoma wine country.

With a big Cal King bed outfitted with a featherbed and down bedding, two overstuffed chairs, an electric fireplace, flat screen TV, desk, a small refrigerator, and a complimentary half bottle of wine, the spacious room was a delightful haven.

French doors led to the balcony with a table and chairs that overlooked the gardens – and prompted me to pop a bottle of wine into the fridge for late afternoon enjoyment.

Vintner's Inn Upstairs fireplace room, Santa Rosa, California
Vintner’s Inn Upstairs fireplace room, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Luxuriously appointed upstairs fireplace room at Vintner's Inn in Santa Rosa
Luxuriously appointed upstairs fireplace room at Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The large bathroom with a vanity separated from the shower and tub was furnished with white fluffy towels, olive oil themed toiletries and bathrobes.

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The hotel

Fountain at Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Fountain at Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Arriving early afternoon, we had plenty of time to explore the hotel before dinner.

The 44 rooms and suites at Vintner’s Inn are set in three buildings encircling a fountain and connected by brick pathways.

Walking paths at Vintner's Inn Santa Rosa
Walking paths at Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Such a beautiful Sonoma afternoon behooved a stroll, so we set out on the two-mile hiking and jogging path that winds through the 92 acres of vineyards.

Along the way, we met up with some local residents, who seemed to be enjoying the gorgeous weather as much as we were.

Goats along Vintner's Inn hiking and jogging path
Goats along Vintner’s Inn hiking and jogging path
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Vintner's Inn vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Arriving back at the hotel, we stopped by the Bocce ball court – a beautiful area with an assortment of tables and chairs under towering redwoods.

Bocce ball court at Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Bocce ball court at Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quiet enclaves are scattered about the lavishly landscaped gardens and courtyards, perfect for sharing a glass of wine, stories from the day, and plans for the next.

Vintner's Inn, Santa Rosa, California
Vintner’s Inn, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For those that don’t believe a day of wine tasting is a form of exercise, a fitness center is located near the edge of the vineyards, along side a hot tub and lounge chairs.

Vintner's Inn workout room
Vintner’s Inn fitness room
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Vintner's Inn hot tub and lounge chairs
Vintner’s Inn hot tub and lounge chairs
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Arriving back at our room, the wine was chilled, the doors of the balcony were open, and it was time to enjoy a bottle of Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay. Cheers!

Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay on the balcony at Vintner's Inn
Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay on the balcony at Vintner’s Inn
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The restaurants and bar

John Ash & Co at Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
John Ash & Co at Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

John Ash & Co. and the Front Room Bar & Lounge

When we lived in Santa Rosa briefly a few years back, we’d become frequent patrons of John Ash & Co. and the Front Room Bar & Lounge. It quickly became our go-to-spot for happy hours, birthdays, holidays – any excuse is a good one to head to John Ash.

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A showcase of the best of Northern California cuisine, John Ash & Co. prepares fresh, local, creative food in a gorgeous setting.

From appetizers in the Front Room (the rosemary nuts and fish tacos are amazing) to dining excellence at John Ash & Co., the restaurant delivers some of the best food found in Sonoma County.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience dinner at John Ash & Co., Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience dinner at John Ash & Co., Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After an amazing evening at John Ash, only made more enjoyable by dining with the Rodney Strong team including winemaker, Justin Seidenfeld, we walked back to our room admiring how pretty the grounds at Vintner’s Inn look in the evening.

Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vintner’s Inn Café

Vintner's Inn lobby, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn lobby, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After enjoying our morning coffee from the coffee service, which is available in each of the hotel buildings every morning, we headed over to the hotel’s main building for breakfast.

A great place to have a coffee or tea, read, or spend time with friends, the lobby has multiple seating areas in a cozy environment.

Lobby of the Vintner's Inn
Lobby of the Vintner’s Inn
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Vintner's inn, Santa Rosa, California
Vintner’s Inn, Santa Rosa, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Various items are available for sale in the lobby, such as hats, cookbooks, and the estate’s award-winning olive oil.

Vintner's Inn Estate Olive Oil
Vintner’s Inn Estate Olive Oil
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Also located in the lobby is the Vintner’s Inn Café, which serves breakfast weekdays and brunch on the weekend.

Vintners Inn Café
Vintner’s Inn Café
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Diners can enjoy a wide variety of breakfast specialties and beverages to start their day in the cheerful indoor dining room or on the heated terrace overlooking the gardens.

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting there

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vintner’s Inn is located in Santa Rosa, California. From the 101, take the River Road exit and head west to Barnes Road. Turn left on Barnes Road and Vintner’s Inn is on the left.

Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vintner’s Inn, Santa Rosa

Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Location: 4350 Barnes Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Design: Italian architecture set in Northern California wine country

Rooms: With the exception of service animals, pets are not allowed.

Toiletries: CALI from Italy

Additional services and amenities: On-site Event Center with private banquet rooms and full-service banquet kitchen that can accommodate small groups, meetings with up to 300 participants, and receptions of up to 500 guests.

Vintner's Inn Event Center
Vintner’s Inn Event Center
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

WiFi: Free in lobby and public areas, for a fee in rooms

John Ash & Co. at Vintner's Inn
John Ash & Co. at Vintner’s Inn
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Restaurants & bars: John Ash & Co., Front Room Bar & Lounge, Vintner’s Inn Café

Parking: Free


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rodney Strong Vineyards for hosting us as their guest for the Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience. The content & opinions expressed in our Vintner’s Inn Santa Rosa review are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Kim Hull at Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Kim Hull at Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Rockaway,Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California

The Rodney Strong Vineyards Master Blender Experience

Cover: Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


When one of our favorite wineries, Rodney Strong, called a couple of months ago to see if we’d like to come out for a few days to learn more about the winery and attend a blending seminar, we only had one question – when? Whatever the date, we would clear our calendar to attend such a unique experience.

Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our Master Blender experience was scheduled for the first week of February and when we received the final agenda the week before – wow! Amazing food, wine tastings, luxury accommodations, visits led by the winery’s viticulturist to locations few get a chance to ever see, sessions with Rodney Strong’s winemakers to learn about the winemaking process, and a blending seminar led by Rodney Strong’s head winemaker, Rick Sayre.

Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodney Strong Vineyards Master Blender Experience Day 1: Arrival and welcome dinner

Vintner's Inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We arrived early in the afternoon at the Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa where we would be staying during the event. A four-diamond luxury hotel, the Vintner’s Inn is the epitome of wine country elegance, with stately rooms, elegant gardens, and one of our favorite restaurants, John Ash & Co.

Vintner's inn, Sonoma County, California
Vintner’s Inn, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With such a beautiful Sonoma afternoon at our disposal, we set out for a hike on the two-mile trail around the property while a bottle of Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay chilled in the fridge – the perfect post-hike refreshment upon our return!

Luxurious accommodations at the Rodney Strong Master Blender experience in Sonoma County, California
Luxurious accommodations at the Rodney Strong Master Blender experience in Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Our welcome dinner was at John Ash & Co. with winemaker, Justin Seidenfeld, Rodney Strong’s social media manager, Laura Perret Fontana, and the four additional event attendees, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Jana Seitzer, Annabelle Pericin and Robert Larsen.

Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we worked our way through savory courses accompanied by Rodney Strong wines, Justin provided the background and details on each of the wines. Originally from Colorado, Justin graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2006 with a B.S. in Viticulture & Enology and has been making wine in Sonoma county since 2005, and at Rodney Strong since 2010.

Off to a great beginning to a fascinating week, we were eager to explore the vineyards and learn more about the winemaking process.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodney Strong Vineyards Master Blender Experience Day 2: Vineyard tours, barrel tasting, and an abundance of spectacular food & wine

Winegrower relations manager, Ryan Decker, was our guide for vineyard tours for the morning of day two. Our first stop – Chalk Hill in Windsor.

Chalk Hill

Kim Hull, Winegrower Relations Manager: Ryan Decker, Robert Larsen, Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Annabelle Pericin, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Alexander's Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Kim Hull, Winegrower Relations Manager: Ryan Decker, Robert Larsen, Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Annabelle Pericin, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Alexander’s Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by Rodney Strong Winery Chef Tara Watchel amidst the vines, Ryan explained the unique properties of the Chalk Hill area, where the soil appears “chalky” due to ash deposits from a long-past volcanic eruption.

An excellent start to the day – learning about the vines that produced the very Chardonnay that was in my hand just the afternoon before.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alexander’s Crown

Alexander's Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Alexander’s Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

First released in 1974, Alexander’s Crown was Sonoma’s first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, quickly gaining acclaim, including being named the highest rated Cabernet Sauvignon in Robert Parker’s first issue.

Alexander's Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Alexander’s Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Situated on hills that rise 360 feet above the valley floor, 66 acres are planted at Alexander’s Crown, with Block 1 at the top of the hill producing the prime, most intensely flavored grapes. Listening to Ryan describe the meticulous grape growing processes, it became obvious there are no shortcuts in creating a spectacular bottle of wine.

Alexander's Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Alexander’s Crown, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Each detail is constantly analyzed in an effort to gain even a fraction of improvement. Grapes are picked in 1/2 ton sections to isolate the best blocks or sections of vines. Cross arms were added to the stakes a few years back to “add shade with dappled sunlight” as overexposure can result in too much tannin. And the list goes on, in pursuit of producing an even more perfect bottle of wine.

The Alexander’s Crown property is also the home of Rodney Strong’s owners, the Klein family, and the location of a former home of Rod and Charlotte Strong. Ryan explained that Charlotte bred Bull Mastifs and would frequently take the dogs down to play in an area between Alexander’s Crown and the Russian River. That same area, where she spent so much time, now produces a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, called Charlotte’s Home.

Rockaway at Rockaway

Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we drove through the back roads of Sonoma County on our way from Alexander’s Crown to our next destination, Rockaway, Ryan would point out highlights along the way. Given that his family first settled in the Alexander Valley in 1858, it’s understandable that he knows the area like the back of his hand.

Along the way, Ryan explained that the Pine Flat vineyards next to Sausal Creek produced some of the best Merlot of all the vineyards and it was one of the few that could be dry farmed, meaning no supplemental water was required. Dry farming requires a high vigor, deep rooting stock.

Rockaway,Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Entering the Rockaway vineyards, we began to climb up through the rolling, vine-covered hills which rise to an elevation of 750 feet. Rodney Strong purchased the property, which grows mostly Bordeaux varietals, in 2003. It produces the grapes for the single vineyard Rockaway Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

As we passed a few olive trees, just barely visible from the road, Ryan explained there were more – he’d found an olive orchard on the property. Following his discovery, he’d torn out the brush and pruned the trees and, in 2014, they produced their first batch of oil from the orchard.

Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Arriving near the top of the hill, we left the car and climbed to the summit, where sweeping views of the Sonoma Valley and a bottle of Rockaway awaited our arrival.

Such an appropriate ending to our morning vineyards tour – sipping an amazing wine at such an amazing place. Standing atop Rockaway, gazing out over the Alexander Valley with its many vineyards, farms and ranches, it re-emphasized the importance that Rodney Strong places on location in artisan winemaking.

Greg Hull, Winegrower Relations Manager: Ryan Decker, Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Kim Hull, Annabelle Pericin, Jana Seitzer, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Greg Hull, Winegrower Relations Manager: Ryan Decker, Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Kim Hull, Annabelle Pericin, Jana Seitzer, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, at Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From such a vast amount of potential spots to grow grapes, narrowed down to the very place where we stood, then artfully created into a spectacular wine that made its way back again to this spot to be enjoyed with this stunning view – Rockaway at Rockaway is not your average morning.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Lunch at Catelli’s in Geyserville, California

Catelli’s in Geyserville, California, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Catelli’s in Geyserville, California, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Lunch was just a few minutes down the road at Catelli’s in Geyserville. Originally opened by Santi and Virginia Catelli in 1936, the restaurant is now owned and operated by third generation Catellis and siblings, Domenica and Nicholas Catelli, and specializes in local and organic creations served in the historic location.

Catelli’s in Geyserville, California, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Catelli’s in Geyserville, California, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A variety of appetizers, salads, and bottles of wine quickly appeared at the table, including our first sampling of a Davis Bynum wine. Rodney Strong acquired the Davis Bynum winery in 2007, and the commitment to preserving Bynum’s passion for quality winemaking is apparent throughout Rodney Strong.

David Bynum wines, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
David Bynum wines, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ryan recommended the kale salad with blood oranges, which was delectable, and then we selected the award winning 10-layer layer lasagna with the slightly spicy Domenica’s sauce. Pasta perfection. For dessert, Catelli’s delivered “grown up” root beer floats to the table. One taste and Annabelle exclaimed, “That will put chest on your hair!”

Grown up rootbeer float at Catelli's, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Grown up rootbeer float at Catelli’s, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

An afternoon wine tasting touring with Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld and Ron Washam

Arriving back at Rodney Strong Vineyards after lunch, it was time for a winery tour and some wine tasting. Our guide for the afternoon was Ron Washam, whose 35 years in the wine industry have included twice being named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers’ Association and who also judges at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Kim Hull, Annabelle Pericin, Jana Seitzer, Ron Washam, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Kim Hull, Annabelle Pericin, Jana Seitzer, Ron Washam, Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Each step of winemaking at Rodney Strong is a combination of art and science, with industry-leading techniques deployed where appropriate to assist in crafting world-class wines. Meeting up with winemaker Justin Seidenfeld in the tank room, Justin walked us through the conversion process that brought square fermentation tanks to the winery.

Rodney Strong Vineyards
Rodney Strong Vineyards Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The square tanks allow more wine to be stored in a given space as compared to traditional cylindrical tanks. The tanks can be monitored and controlled by an app on a smart phone or tablet, complete with alerts, from anywhere in the world.

Winemaker: Justin Seidenfeld, Kim Hull, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Winemaker: Justin Seidenfeld, Kim Hull, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Additionally, the interior surface of the square tanks is easier to clean, reducing water waste, which supports Rodney Strong Vineyard’s commitment to protecting the environment. Rodney Strong Vineyards operates the winery with a carbon impact of zero, making it the first carbon neutral winery in Sonoma.

Ron Washam, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Ron Washam, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Next stop, the barrel rooms and barrel tasting of the Symmetry 2014 and the 2014 Rockaway. Barrel tasting is like getting to open a present before it’s actually your birthday. Sampling from a barrel provides a glimpse of the future wine  –  a glimpse in that the wine changes as it matures and the winemakers may adjust the blend as well. While the primary purpose of barrel tasting by the public is for purchasing futures, a private barrel tasting in the warehouse is an entirely different experience and a great chance to learn more about the winemaking process.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following our barrel tasting, we headed to the tasting room to do some finished works sampling, which culminated with a side by side tasting of the three 2012 Rodney Strong single vineyards wines: Alexander’s Crown, Rockaway and Brothers.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 2012 having been an excellent vintage for Sonoma County, all three are remarkable wines. Which was best? As head winemaker, Rick Sayre, would comment the next day – it’s about taste preference. Describing a side-by side tasting, he stated favorites were nearly always split 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.

Tours and tastings at Rodney Strong
Tours and tastings at Rodney Strong Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dinner at Jackson’s Bar and Oven with Winemaker Greg Morthole

After an hour’s rest at the hotel, our ride picked us up for a dinner at Jackson’s Bar in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square.

Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Social Media Manager: Laura Perret Fontana, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Owned and operated by Chef Josh Silvers, Jackson’s is a casual, wine country eatery, serving comfort food crafted from seasonal, organic Sonoma ingredients. Our winemaker host for the evening was Greg Morthole, who oversees the Reserve and Single Vineyard wine making.

Dinner at Jackson’s Bar and Oven with Winemaker Greg Morthole
Dinner at Jackson’s Bar and Oven with Winemaker Greg Morthole, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The evening was a wonderful blend of wine, food and conversation, ending with amazing beignets served with chocolate sauce, vanilla anglaise, and a fresh raspberry sauce.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Master Blender Experience Day 3: Blending seminar with head winemaker, Rick Sayre

Just when you think it wouldn’t be possible to eat or drink anything ever again, the next day dawns and breakfast sounded pretty good.

The group met at the Vintner’s Inn Café for a healthy start to the day, then it was off to the winery for a blending seminar with head winemaker, Rick Sayre, who joined Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1979 and Rachel Voorhees, director of education for the winery.

Morning blending seminar with head winemaker Rick Sayre and director of education Rachel Voorhees

Head winemaker, Rick Sayre, Greg Hull and Robert Larsen, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Head winemaker, Rick Sayre, Greg Hull and Robert Larsen, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Heading into the blending seminar, we had no idea what a cool morning we were going to experience. Rounding the corner to the room, each place was set with tasting glasses of each of the varietals used in the 2012 Symmetry, and a glass of the actual 2012 Symmetry. Historic vintages of wines lined the walls of the room, including some bottles with hand written labels by Rod Strong dating back to 1970.

Handwritten label by Rod Strong, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Handwritten label by Rod Strong, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Symmetry is a Meritage (pronounced like heritage), with the wine being crafted like a Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. A Meritage must not contain more than 90% of any one single grape type.

Annabelle Pericin, Director of Wine Education: Rachel Voorhees, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Annabelle Pericin, Director of Wine Education: Rachel Voorhees, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rachel and Rick walked us through a brief overview of Rodney Strong Vineyards, the history of Meritage, and the properties each grape brings to the blend. Then it was time to blend some wine.

Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Armed with bottles of the varietals, beakers, and pipettes, we each set out to blend our own version of the wine. When finished, Rick tasted our creations, commenting on our blends, and awarded an overall winner.

Robert Larsen, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Robert Larsen, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I called mine “A Secret.” As in, “What are you drinking?” “It’s A Secret.” I went with the 80/20 rule, as in 80% Cab and 20% of the others (it donned on me later that I should have named it Pareto). My blend consisted of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.

My blend ended up 2nd runner up, with Annabelle’s winning the day. The experience was fun, educational and truly a cool adventure!

Lunch prepared by Rodney Strong winery chef Tara Watchel with head winemaker Rick Sayre

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our time at Rodney Strong ended with a lunch with Rick Sayres in a dining room above the tasting room.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The lunch, prepared by winery chef, Tara Wachtel, was exquisite, served with perfect wines and some of the olive oil from the orchard Ryan had discovered at Rockaway. The group chatted about fishing in Alaska, Sonoma county, and Rodney Strong’s history, savoring the time remaining in our amazing visit.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Huge thanks to Laura Perret Fontana, Justin Seidenfeld, Ryan Decker, Greg Morthole, Ron Washam, Rachel Voorhees, Tara Wachtel, Rick Sayre and everyone at Rodney Strong Vineyards for such a wonderful experience.

Mustard in the vineyard, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Mustard in the vineyard, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Rodney Strong Vineyards

Rodney Strong Vineyards

Cover: Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


 I knew I couldn’t be an old dancer, but I could be an old winemaker.”
Rodney Strong

In 1959, after a successful career in dance, Rod Strong married his partner, Charlotte Ann Winson, moved to northern California, and became a winemaker. The couple purchased an old boarding house and began making their first wines using bulk wine Strong purchased, then blended to his taste.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 1962, Strong acquired a 159-acre vineyard and winery in Windsor, California, acquired additional vineyards in the Russian River Valley in 1968, and then, in 1970, began construction on a winery.

Rockaway, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Rockaway, Rodney Strong, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Strong was one of the first to plant vineyards in Sonoma, where fruit orchards were prominent at the time. An early advocate of single vineyard wines, his wines were were both of high quality and an excellent value.

That winery is now the site of the tasting room for Rodney Strong Vineyards – a beautiful location where visitors can sample the world-class wines for which Rodney Strong has become known over the decades, take a tour of the winery or attend one of the many events held throughout the year.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 1979, Rick Sayre, the winery’s current head winemaker, joined Rodney Strong as a winemaker.

Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California
Head Winemaker: Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong Master Blender Experience, Sonoma County, California Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tom Klein, who had met both Rod Strong and Rick Sayre in 1979 as a consultant to the winery, acquired the winery in 1989. Since that time, they have installed state of the art facilities and employed leading edge winemaking techniques in their pursuit of crafting world-class wines.

The Klein family also has a commitment to protecting the environment and operates the winery with a carbon impact of zero, making Rodney Strong Vineyards the first carbon-neutral winery in Sonoma. Additionally, the winery was officially certified by the California Sustainable Winegrower’s Alliance for its continuous improvement in the adoption and implementation of sustainable winegrowing practices.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodney Strong Tastings

Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From complimentary tastings to the estate and reserve tastings, Rodney Strong Vineyards offers visitors a wide variety of options for sampling their wines. Friday through Sunday, The Terrace’s tranquil setting is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy wine flights or food & wine pairings (reservations are recommended).

The Terrace, Rodney Strong Vineyards
The Terrace, Rodney Strong Vineyards Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodney Strong Events and the Summer Concert Series

Throughout the year, Rodney Strong hosts a variety of events from its harvest party and grape stomp to the highly acclaimed Summer Concert Series.

Boney James, Rodney Strong Concerts 2016
Boney James, Rodney Strong Concerts 2016 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For over two decades, the Summer Concert Series has entertained wine and music lovers in a spectacular, intimate vineyard setting.  Learn more about the Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series »

Georee Benson at the Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series
George Benson at the Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodney Strong Tours

Rodney Strong offers a complimentary tour of the vineyards and winery, subject to availability. The tours are a perfect way to learn about the winery’s history and catch a behind-the-scenes view of how the wines are made. Tours are offered daily at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Getting to Rodney Strong Vineyards

Rodney Strong offers tastings and tours to its visitors daily throughout the year. Check the Rodney Strong Vineyards website for hours, events and to schedule reservations.

Rodney Strong is located just off the 101 near Healdsburg, California.

11455 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 431-1533
(800) 678-4763

Rodney Strong Vineyards
Kim Hull @ Rodney Strong Vineyards
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series

Cover: Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Nothing goes with great wine like fabulous music in an intimate setting.

With a wide range of world-class performers, a stunning venue surrounded by vineyards and, of course, their superb wines, the Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series delivers that and re, and deserves a place on everyone’s must-visit list.

In 2015, the Rodney Strong Concert Series celebrated their 25th anniversary of wine country summer concerts and we were on hand to close out the season with ten-time Grammy winner, George Benson.

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It wasn’t our first visit to the series – over the years we’ve seen Mindi Abair, Michael McDonald, and the late, B.B. King.

Mindi Abair at Rodney Strong Concert Series 2014
Mindi Abair at Rodney Strong Concert Series 2014
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

25 years of summer concerts

Curious how the series began, we inquired with Rodney Strong Vineyards and were told:

Before the Summer Concert Series was created, the tasting room manager would put on impromptu concerts every once in a while and based on the success of those weekday shows, the Rodney Strong team decided it was a great idea to create an official concert series. We started with good, local talent covering many different types of music.”

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As the years went by the series grew and, as they say… the rest is history.

Today, the Summer Concert Series is a must-see event. Surrounded by acres of beautiful vineyards, guests are treated to top performers in contemporary music while enjoying the winery’s intimate concert venue, The Green. There is no bad seat on The Green! Fans can bring a picnic to enjoy with friends or purchase an assortment of prepared foods from local purveyors on site. Rodney Strong Vineyards’ wines are available for purchase as well as non-alcoholic beverages.

Guests can purchase general admission tickets and bring a blanket and/or low back chair to enjoy the concert from The Green. VIP tickets are also available with up front seating directly in front of the stage with fantastic direct view of the performers.”

George Benson on the Green

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We plan a visit to Sonoma every year in conjunction with the concerts and that always includes a Rodney Strong tour and tasting. This year was no exception and even included a stop by the stage during set up for the show.

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Then, in the evening, after grabbing a few shots of the fabulous George Benson, we progressed to sipping the fine Rodney Strong wines while enjoying the smooth sounds of the jazz master as he delivered a fantastic performance to a sold-out crowd of over 1000.

Rodney Strong Concert Series 2016

What’s ahead for the series in 2016? The  Rodney Strong team begins looking for artists for the upcoming season around the first of the year and announces the concert series lineup in late spring. To stay in the know about the concert series and all events, check the Rodney Strong Concerts and Special Events page.


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rodney Strong for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: George Benson
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Cover: Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is Sonoma County’s largest fundraising event, held annually on Labor Day weekend with winery lunches, winemaker dinners, barbecues, one of the nation’s largest charity wine auctions, and the Taste of Sonoma.

Rodney Strong, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Rodney Strong, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A perfect place to close out the summer, the event brings thousands together under the late summer sun to sip fine wines, sample delicacies, and raise funds to support area youth and children.

Ferrari-Carano, John Ash & Co., Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Ferrari-Carano, John Ash & Co., Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: Where the winemakers pour and the chefs serve

Jordan Wines and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Jordan Wines and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures  © Chasing Light Media

Showcasing Sonoma’s exceptional wines and local chef creations, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is where foodies and oenophiles gather for three days of nonstop eating, drinking and charitable wine buying.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Against the sublime backdrop of Northern California’s vineyards, the event is a celebration of the best of Sonoma – with the chefs and winemakers in attendance, pouring their wines and serving their culinary delicacies in the relaxed, casual comfort the region is known for.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Taste of Sonoma

Sub Zero Ice Cream, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Sub Zero Ice Cream, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is a three-day feast of the senses, the largest event of the weekend is Taste of Sonoma and a true star in its own right.

What makes Taste of Sonoma work so well?

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It’s relaxed – not snobby

Paul Hobbs Winery, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Paul Hobbs Winery, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Anyone that’s spent time in Sonoma would not be surprised by that statement but, a non-snobby wine event is actually worth noting.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Attendees eat, drink, chat, and relax in the easy-going wine country atmosphere. So, feel free to leave those five-inch heels & the necktie at home. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is about the wine, the food, and the cause.

MacMurray Estates Vineyards, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
MacMurray Estate Vineyards, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Speaking of food – there’s lots of food

Jordan Wines and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Jordan Wines and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Other wine events can be so wine-focused you have to leave the tent and head to a restaurant when you get hungry, but not at Taste of Sonoma.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Most tables pair food with the wines. Fabulous, creative food. From mushroom tartlets to watermelon caprese to shrimp cocktail shots to some of the most amazing pickles you’ve ever tasted – it’s all so very Sonoma – fresh, local, innovative.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Informative and entertaining seminars

Grape to Glass with Ray Isle of Food and Wine magazine, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Grape to Glass with Ray Isle of Food and Wine magazine, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Seminars provide a wonderful opportunity to gain insights from experts about food, wine, and kitchen techniques and add to an unforgettable Sonoma experience.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and panel discussions, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend provides a chance to learn from the masters – who are both informative and entertaining.

Grape to Glass, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Grape to Glass, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

And, of course, it’s about tasting some of the best wine in the world

Breathless Wines, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Breathless Wines, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Wine lovers have the opportunity to taste thousands of wines from hundreds of Sonoma County vintners and the informal atmosphere has wine fans mixing and mingling with the winemakers themselves.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: The Proceeds Matter

Mark Start, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country
Mark Stark, Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, the proceeds go to worthy causes supporting the children, environment, and health of the Sonoma County Community.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 2015 event set a new record with proceeds expected to be in excess of $5.5 million, with Fund the Future, supporting children’s literacy throughout Sonoma County, raising over $1.9 million alone.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sonoma Wine Country

Did you know Sonoma County has more than 370 wineries and over 500 restaurants?The fabulous climate makes Sonoma County a year-round destination so plan some visits throughout the year.


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2016 for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Taste of Sonoma, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Michel Schlumberger winery

Michel-Schlumberger

Cover: Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


A gently winding road heads through rolling hills and vineyards to the spot where Jean-Jacques Michel first planted vines to establish his winery in 1971.

Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On the west edge of the Dry Creek Valley, the area has both the cool climate conditions and the gravely soil to produce premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay grapes.

Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 1991, Jacques Pierre Schlumberger joined Michel and the Michel-Schlumberger brand was formed. Since that time, the Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Estate has gained worldwide recognition for their Bordeaux-style wines.

Michel Schlumberger winery
Michel-Schlumberger wineryPhoto: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Michel-Schlumberger is a beautiful estate influenced by both the European backgrounds of Michel and Schlumberger and the architectural heritage of California missions.

Michel Schlumberger
Michel Schlumberger Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From the reflecting pool to the overflowing baskets of flowers, to the inviting chairs found throughout the winery, Michel-Schlumberger offers a tasting experience that exudes a welcoming warmth.

Michel Schlumberger winery
Michel Schlumberger winery Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With one of the few tastings where guests find a quiet area to sit and enjoy the wines, Michel-Schlumberger offers one of the most relaxing guest experiences in all of Sonoma and Napa.

Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Michel-Schlumberger winery, Sonoma Country, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On our visit, tasting room manager Ryan Leonhardt circulated from table to table, pouring wines for guests, taking the time to explain each wine, and then allowing them to experience the wines at their leisure.

Michel Schlumberger winery
Michel-Schlumberger winery Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to both a classic and a reserve tasting, Michel-Schlumberger offers five-course food and wine pairings on select days of the week and a daily vineyard tour and tasting option.

Michel Schlumberger tasting room
Michel-Schlumberger tasting roomPhoto: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting to Michel-Schlumberger

Michel-Schlumberger is located about 10 minutes west of downtown Healdsburg.

4155 Wine Creek Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448
707-433-7427


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Michel Schlumberger winery
Michel Schlumberger winery Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Matanzas Winery

Sonoma Wine Country Labor Day Weekend Getaway

Cover: Sonoma Wine Country
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


As summer draws to a close, it’s time to indulge in a relaxing long weekend – in Sonoma! Sonoma County is the place to be this Labor Day weekend for three exquisite days under the late summer sun and stars sipping fine wines, listening to jazz and sampling delicacies.

What’s in store for the weekend?

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery
Sonoma County
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sonoma labor day weekend getaway: Friday

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is Sonoma County’s largest charity event with 200 wineries pouring thousands of world-class wines and 60 local chefs serving a wide range of fabulous culinary creations.

Friday winemaker lunches

The Labor Day weekend kicks off on Friday with dozens of wineries hosting lunches throughout Sonoma County with expertly crafted food and wine pairings.

* Insider tip – jump on this quick: Tickets for lunch with international Winemaker Nick Goldschmidt at Baci Café and Wine Bar in Healdsburg are still available. Goldschmidt wines are a perfect example of single vineyard source wines from both the Alexander Valley and Napa Valley Oakville appellations.

The opportunity to sample a wide selection of Goldschmidt wines as Nick guides a tasting paired with Baci’s Chef Shari’s locally-sourced cuisine will make for a memorable and sumptuous start to the weekend. Goldschmidt luncheon details: Friday, September 4, 12:30 – 3:00pm, $85

Sonoma Starlight

Sonoma StarlightUpdate: This event has sold out.

The place to be Friday evening is Francis Ford Coppola Winery for an enchanting evening of wine, food, music and dancing under the stars at Sonoma Starlight.

The evening begins with a sparkling wine reception, then moves on to an abundance of Sonoma’s seasonal offerings served alongside wines from over 25 local wineries.

At 8:00pm, it’s time to hit the dance floor when the band begins to play.

Sonoma Starlight details: Friday, September 4, 6:30 – 10:00pm, $125 general admission, $175 reserved seating.

Sonoma labor day weekend getaway: Saturday

Taste of Sonoma

Taste of SonomaHow’s this sound for the perfect Saturday afternoon?

Sample from 200 wineries pouring thousands of world-class wines as you stroll through MacMurray Estate Vineyards and taste delicacies prepared by 60 local chefs. From the Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge, to featured wine and food pairings, to grill stations, the Taste of Sonoma will dazzle the taste buds of of wine lovers and foodies. Taste of Sonoma details: Saturday, September 5, 11:00am – 4:00pm, $165 per person, $195 per person Grand Reserve.

George Benson at Rodney Strong Vineyards

George Benson at Rodney Strong Vineyards

Imagine sitting amidst the grapevines sipping world-class wine while listening to the sounds of a legendary musician as the sun slowly sets.

No need to imagine – it’s the Rodney Strong Vineyard concert series – the magical venue that brings out locals and visitors alike.

Mindi Abair at Rodney Strong Concert Series 2014
Mindi Abair at Rodney Strong Concert Series 2014
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In its 25th year, the Rodney Strong Vineyards’ summer concert series has delivered the biggest names year in and year out.

We’ve seen B.B. King, Michael McDonald, Mindi Abair, and more at Rodney Strong and, this labor day weekend, we’ll add ten-time Grammy Award winner, George Benson, to the list!

* Insider tip – get your tickets now: The Rodney Strong concerts have a strong following and with George Benson performing on such a big weekend in Sonoma, tickets will sell out – so don’t wait.

Rodney Strong Summer concert with George Benson details: Saturday, September 5. General admission tickets $75, VIP $110. Doors open at 4:00 p.m., show starts at 5:00 p.m.

Sonoma labor day weekend getaway: Sunday

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery
Sonoma County
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015 continues on Sunday with two options for wine and food lovers:

  • Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction 2015Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. The flagship event of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction on Sunday. The auction is an opportunity to bid on a selection of rare, world-class experiences and wines while supporting Sonoma County charities. Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction details: Sunday, September 6, 12:30 7:00pm at Chateau St Jean in Kenwood. Tickets are $500 per person.
  • Winemaker Barbecues. Multiple Sonoma wineries will host Sunday barbecues for a more casual way to celebrate Labor Day. From ribs to sausages to kebabs, each winery will pair their grilled fare with fabulous Sonoma red wines. Winemaker barbecue details: Sunday, September 6, 12:30. Tickets are $85.

We hope you’ll join us for a fabulous Sonoma labor day weekend! Remember to designate a driver or hire a car service. Enjoy!


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Kenwood Vineyards

Kenwood Vineyards

Kenwood Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Established in 1970, Kenwood Vineyards produces well-loved wines in several different groupings – the Table Wine Series, Sonoma Series, Reserve, Jack London Vineyard and the Artist Series.

Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A mix of old and new, Kenwood Vineyards’ cellar dates back to 1906 but has been modernized with more than 125 stainless steel fermenting tanks and large oak uprights, and 20,000 small French and American oak barrels.

Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located in the Sonoma Valley along Highway 12, Kenwood Vineyards has a strong local following in Sonoma County. The tasting room is a typically a mix of regulars picking up cases of their favorites and visitors to the valley exploring the “small lot” or “cuvee” style of wines that Kenwood is known for.

Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to Kenwood Vineyards’ 22-acre vineyard at the winery location, Kenwood also sources grapes throughout the Sonoma County including Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain.

Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kenwood Vineyards

Kenwood Vineyards is located at 9592 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452.

Kenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County

Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


A hidden gem in Sonoma County, Matanzas Creek Winery is off the beaten path, located in the Bennett Valley just outside Santa Rosa.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Situated between Taylor Mountain, Sonoma Mountain, and Bennett Peak, viticulture in Bennett Valley dates back to the 1800s when Isaac DeTurk began growing grapes and producing wine. However, DeTurk’s venture was short-lived due to a phylloxera outbreak that destroyed his grapes. Prohibition soon followed, and significant grape growing was not seen again in the valley until it was revived by Matanzas Creek Winery.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Founded in 1977, Matanzas Creek Winery quickly put the area on the map as a top wine producing region with their Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Adding to their world-class wines, Matanzas Creek planted lavender gardens along the drive into the winery in 1991.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Truly spectacular in sight and smell, lavender gardens, native grasses and olive groves greet guests, inviting them to enter the inspiring and tranquil environment.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With a tasting room tucked amongst the trees above the vineyards and lavender gardens, Matanzas Creek Winery is a perfect spot to spend a quiet afternoon taking in the panoramic view while sampling their excellent wines.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The yields of the lavender fields are used to create a wide assortment of lavender products and decorative accessories – all available in the beautiful, spacious tasting room.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Enjoyed on the deck outside the tasting room, the Matanzas Creek artisan cheese, and wine pairing is one of our favorite leisure pursuits in Sonoma County. Sampling limited-production wines and local artisan cheeses, combined with the serene setting, make for the perfect wine-country afternoon.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek Winery is located at 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404.

Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Matanzas Creek Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

St Francis Winery, Sonoma County

St Francis Winery & Vineyards

St Francis Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


St. Francis Winery has created wines since 1983 in the Sonoma Valley.

St Francis Winery, Sonoma County
St Francis Winery, Sonoma County Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventure © Chasing Light Media

St Francis owns over 415 acres of vineyards and was the first to plant Merlot in Sonoma County. Well-balanced and fruit-forward, St. Francis wines are crafted with 100% handpicked fruit.

St Francis Winery
St Francis Winery, Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventure © Chasing Light Media

The sprawling mission-style tasting room has a relaxed atmosphere overlooking the vineyards and the surrounding Sonoma hills.

St Francis Winery
St Francis wines, Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

St Francis Winery & Vineyards

St Francis Winery & Vineyards is located at 100 Pythian Road at Hwy 12, Santa Rosa, CA 95409


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Dog-friendly St Francis Winery
Dog-friendly St Francis Winery, Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Rochioli Vineyards & Winery

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma County, California
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media


Just a short drive from downtown Healdsburg in Sonoma Country, Rochioli Vineyards & Winery overlooks the floor of the Russian River Valley amidst Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc vines.

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery
Rochioli Vineyards & Winery Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While the tasting room is small and casual, with a friendly staff, quiet areas to sit outside and cats wandering about.

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery
Rochioli Vineyards & Winery Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma County, California is located at 6192 Westside Road Healdsburg, CA 95448

Rochioli Vineyards & Winery
Rochioli Vineyards & Winery Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.