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
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
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!


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