TAKE A RAINY DAY TOUR OF SONOMA VALLEY’S COZIEST FIREPLACES.
There’s something about the warmth and comfort of a crackly fire that brings people closer together. So don’t call off that trip to Sonoma Valley just because of some wintery weather. Here are a few places where you can comfortably curl up in front of nature’s radiator. Sip some fine wines, spin a few yarns, sing campfire songs if you know some, and if it wants to rain, then let it.
RAM’S GATE WINERY
Seems like you’re barely over the bridge before you’re in front of your first big, beautiful fireplace. At Ram’s Gate, there’s a welcoming hearth right there to greet you as you enter. If you can resist the temptation to cozy up in the lounge chairs there, head into the Tasting Hall. Choose from two truly amazing tasting flights and, by all means, order “The Board,” a selection of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments that’s off the charts good. It won’t be easy, but don’t get too comfortable, you have a few more fireplaces to find.
Make your way through the town of Sonoma to the laid back, put-your-feet-up vibe at Ravenswood Winery. From one cozy spot in front of the fireplace you can taste your way around some of the region’s most acclaimed Zinfandel vineyards. Legendary names that read like inductees into the Zinfandel Vineyard Hall of Fame. Barricia, Old Hill, Big River, Teldeschi and Belloni. They all get the unadulterated, unapologetic, unfussy, unwimpy Ravenswood treatment. So stake your claim to a comfy chair by the fire and settle in for a sampling of these and other rare, small lot wines.
HAMEL FAMILY WINES
Our next Cabernet destination lies a few miles north of Sonoma along the right side of Highway 12. Make sure to call ahead for an appointment, and then prepare to be wowed. The new estate house, winery and wine caves at Hamel are finished and they are, in a word, spectacular. There is really nothing quite like it in Sonoma Valley, or any other wine region for that matter. Built into the mountainside, the Estate House sits on a stone plinth, with dramatic views over the gently rolling vineyard. Work your way towards The Library to find the fireplace. Like a private oasis for small groups, it’s intimate and, unlike all the other dramatically expansive spaces, inward facing. The ideal place to gather with a few close friends and raise a toasty toast.
ARROWOOD VINEYARDS AND WINERY
World-class Cabernet Sauvignon, a toasty fire and spectacular views await you just up the road at Arrowood Winery. Arrowood helped write the book on Sonoma Valley cab. From the comfort of their well appointed tasting room you can indulge in a wide selection of their hand-crafted, limited production wines. Consider indulging in a cheese or chocolate wine pairing. Then, if you’re craving a breath of fresh air, step out onto the veranda, curl up under a blanket and savor the moment as the sun sinks behind Sonoma Mountain.
Roche Winery, right on the plaza square, has an amazing outdoor patio with plenty of seating, indoor and outdoor tasting areas, historic gas lit lamps and, yes, a big fire pit. There’s room for you, as well as a few friends, and you’ll likely make some new ones as you gather fireside. Roche stays open until 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday, making it the perfect spot to sip some wine before dinner. The limited production wines at Roche aren’t sold in stores and, most days, you can taste recent vintages straight from the barrel.