Wine Tasting Near Bodega Bay: Top 8 Tasting Rooms
It’s now the perfect time of the year for wine tasting near Bodega Bay. This amazing area lies on a San Andreas Fault line, roughly 20 miles as the crow flies from Petaluma, about 30 minutes on the highway from downtown Petaluma to The Links Golf Club at Bodega Harbor, which rests at the southern opening of the bay.
If you’re flying in, book yourself into Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS) which is right in Petaluma, but make sure and get yourself a rental car. Bodega Bay is a rural area and wineries are miles apart, and Uber and Lyft are not reliable options.
The 8-mile drive on Bodega Ave to 10 miles on Valley Ford Road traverses through the heart of the Petaluma Gap, a unique Sonoma County microclimate comprising approximately 200,000 acres and 4,000 vineyard acres.
The Petaluma was recognized as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2017 and Bodega is essentially the mouth of the gap, from where the coastal fog enters. Characterized by its wind patterns, the AVA is home to roughly 90 vineyards, nine wineries, and seven wine tasting rooms.
We’re focusing on Bodega Bay wineries in this post. I only mention it because (1) the drive through the wind tunnel is characteristic of fog-swept Bohemian, Sonoma Coast terrior that produces so many exceptional cool climate wines, and (2) you’re going to drive right past the Valley Ford Cheese Shop which serves a life-changing tuna melt. Just sayin’.
But I digress. There’s been more recent geological upheaval in West Sonoma County than in all of France, which sits on the relatively stable Eurasian plate. To get a better sense of the geography, Bodega Bay is 20 miles south of Jenner, and 14 miles east of Freestone.
All this seismic activity has created an incredibly diverse, mineral-rich soil ideal for growing grapes. So finish visiting the 150-year-old Potter School where Hitchcock filmed the scene from his horror classic The Birds.
Shower up after kayaking in the bay or horseback riding in the surrounding hills. When you go wine tasting near Bodega Bay, there are many options to choose from. Here are some of my favorites.
Table of contents
Map to Tasting Rooms
$15-20 per person tasting
Seated Tastings Daily from 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, by reservation only
28-minute drive from Bodega Bay
5700 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
|Varietals:||Zinfandel, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer|
|AVA:||Russian River Valley|
Balletto Vineyards is one of a handful of Russian River Valley wineries that have 100% control from vineyard to bottle. The founder, John Balletto, transformed the land from a vegetable farm to a fully functioning vineyard. Since then their reputation for producing exceptional fruit has soared. They sell much of the grapes to other winemakers, however, they select the best vineyards and blocks for themselves. Drop in on their casual and unpretentious estate, and try a four or five wine flight on their patio garden outside. Don’t pass up the snappy dry Gewürztraminer, or bright and fresh Zinfandel. There’s no “wine babble” here, just interesting and amusing tales of the winery itself told by friendly and welcoming staff. There’s a large, calming water fountain in the center of the patio and a breeze flowing through the surrounding vineyards. It’s pretty much the definition of relaxation. Tasting fee waived if purchasing two bottles or more.
$40 per person tasting
Thursday – Monday, 11am – 6pm, by appointment only
50-minute drive from Bodega bay
325 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Carignan, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay|
|AVAs:||Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Mendocino Coast|
From their threadbare beginnings at a bar in San Francisco, Banshee has cemented its place in Healdsburg, the heart of Sonoma County. Although it’s hemmed in by boutique shops and hip restaurants and 50 minutes from Bodega Bay, the Banshee tasting room is much more laid-back. Warm wooden tables and cozy couches give it the feel of hanging out in someone’s cool home, not a crowded tasting bar. There’s a number of different flights to choose from. Banshee has a strong focus on Pinot Noir from the cool, rugged coastal areas of the Western Sonoma Coast. They have a passion for coastal Chardonnays. And do try their very special Carignan Rosé! Upgrade your experience with a handcrafted cheese and charcuterie board. This seasonal board is prepared with local ingredients by one of their estate chefs.
Members Only Tasting, by appointment
44-minute drive from Bodega Bay
1400 American Way, Windsor, CA 95492
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Chenin Blanc|
|AVAs:||Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast|
For the past two decades, DuMOL has cemented its legacy as one of the most distinctive producers of cool-climate Pinot Noir in the region. They farm select small parcels of grapes from 28 vineyards across radically different sites, from the Sonoma Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains. This means they produce very limited quantities of wine. Tastings are for members only, and last approximately one hour. Enjoy a selection of 4 wines, and then take a tour of the cellar and production facility. The fascinating thing about a DuMOL visit is the possibility of seeing a working winery in action. Pump-overs, fruit-sorting, and barrel tops ups are things oenophiles hear about but rarely experience. See website for member sign-up details.
$30 per person tasting
Daily Tasting from 10am – 3pm, by appointment only
44-minute drive from Bodega Bay
1200 American Way, Windsor, CA 95492
|Brand:||Ernest, Eugenia, Edaphos|
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Grenache, Trousseau, Chardonnay, Picpoul|
|AVAs||Sonoma Coast, Mendocino County|
While further from Bodega Bay than the others on this list, Ernest Vineyards is profoundly influenced by the Burgundian style. This means meticulous attention in the vineyards, using organic and biodynamic farming. As little intervention in the cellar as possible, with minimal use of oak. And a commitment to transparency, restraint, and beauty. Palette-wise, this means higher acidity and lower alcohol. Tastings are done at Custom Crush in Windsor, in a private open-air salon. Try 6 wines from the collection of current release Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from single vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast. For the more adventurous, there’s a flight of single-vineyard wines of unique varieties of Sonoma County and beyond. The Trousseau and Picpoul are a must-try. This wine tasting experience last approximately 90 minutes.
$40 per person tasting and tour
Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm, by appointment only
22-minute drive from Bodega Bay
1300 Montgomery Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472
|Varietals||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay|
|AVA:||Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast|
Freeman Vineyards focuses on small-production Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with an exacting eye that is rarely equalled among its peers. As many as 50 individual clonal fermentation are managed each vintage to make just six Pinot Noirs. Total production is kept under 5,000 cases. This is artisan winemaking with love and attention at its core. Nestled in the Green Valley area of the larger Russian River Valley, the vineyards are often swathed in fog and constant coastal breezes. Walk through the wines and go for a quick tour of one the best small wineries in Sonoma. There’s even a chance to visit the adjacent Gloria Vineyard, their first estate vineyard property. Tastings are done by the winemaker, in the wine cave. In the quiet ambiance, surrounded by barrels aging the current vintages, savor their lineup of acclaimed small-lot Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Tasting fee waived if purchasing six bottles or more.
$65 per person includes vineyard tour and 8 wines paired with local delicacies
Fri-Sun 11am-3pm, by appointment only
20-minute drive from Bodega Bay
3785 Burnside Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Gewürztraminer and Dry White Zinfandel|
|AVA:||Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast|
For true Pinotphiles, no trip to the Bodega Bay region is complete without a visit to the Halleck Vineyard Estate. This is one of the very first Pinot Noir Vineyards planted in Sebastopol. Their Pinot Noir was judged Best Pinot in America three years in a row. Their Sauvignon Blanc was judged Best California White Wine, and their Dry White Gewürztraminer was judged Best White Wine. These are small batch, luxury wines made by Ross Halleck and Jennifer Halleck. They host small, intimate wine tasting salons at their hilltop Sebastopol Estate with sweeping views of the Russian River Valley. Only 16 people per wine tasting experience and dogs are welcome. Tour the viticulture roots of the best California Pinot Noir, and get a chance to buy hard to find wines not available in stores. Taste 8 different award-winning wines poured with stories about how they’re made. Wines are paired with delectable, single-bite delicacies made from locally sourced ingredients including triple cream truffle brie and Pinot Noir infused chocolate.
$100 per person tasting and tour
Monday – Thursday 10am & 12pm, Saturday – Sunday, 11am & 2pm, by appointment only
One-hour drive from Bodega Bay
33201 Annapolis Road, Annapolis, CA 95412
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Viognier|
|AVA:||Sonoma Coast (95%), Savoy in the Anderson Valley (05%)|
Peay’s estate vineyard rests on a fog-enshrouded hilltop above a river gorge four miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Sea Ranch region of the West Sonoma Coast. For a really “out there”, nature lover’s experience, take the time to drive up highway 1 along the California Coast where you will find Peay’s majestic coastal vineyard.
This tasting lasts 2 hours, serving 6 wines, including 2 library wines, a local charcuterie and cheese plate, and a walk in the vineyard. Experience cool climate marine viticulture at its finest. You can also visit the inland winery in Cloverdale near Healdsburg for a tasting of 6 wines, including library wines, with the Associate Winemaker, Orion LeGuyonne.
$100 per person private tasting and tour
Open Daily, by appointment only
25 minute drive from Bodega Bay
1600 Barlow Ln, Sebastopol, CA 95472
|Varietals:||Pinot Noir, Chardonnay|
|AVAs:||Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast|
Off-the-grid but not off-the-mark, Small Vines craft 100% estate farmed and organically grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Join the winemakers Paul and Kathryn Sloan for a completely private experience in the gorgeous tasting room inside the newly renovated, historic Wine Barn. Featuring a large wooden slab for a table, this is a great place to go one-on-one with the artisans themselves. Experience whatever the season is bringing into the winery. Sip and swirl between 5-7 extremely limited production wines. With gracious and authentic hospitality, matched with the wines, give an experience that’s truly a snapshot into the real Sonoma County. Walk amongst the small vines, and learn about the unique organic wine making process they employ.
Wrap-Up: Wine Tasting Near Bodega Bay
While there are a vast array of wine regions and climates around the world, the wineries near Bodega Bay occupy a truly special place. This cool, maritime Pacific Ocean microclimate creates wine of the utmost distinction and personality. They just cannot be imitated. And neither can the pristine beaches or the sensational seafood of crab, salmon, rockfish and more, taken right off a local boat. Don’t pass up a visit to the best half-kept secret in California wine country.
Wine Events Calendar
The Russian River Valley has a viticulture history unlike any other in California. Grapevines were first planted by immigrants from the Mediterranean region in the 19th century….
Winemaker Ross Halleck of Halleck Vineyard has always believed in the power of wine to bring people together and build communities. To this end, he has been tirelessly promoting his wines beyond the borders of Sonoma County,…