Holidays in Sonoma – Highway 12 Wineries

So in a previous post I highlighted Ledson Winery, famous for their beautiful Castle tasting room. Ledson is more on the north end of Highway 12, so now let’s continue to proceed south visiting Highway 12 Wineries shall we? Highway 12 is a winding road that many wineries are on, so you could easily spend a whole day just visiting wineries just on this one road. Overall, from Ledson to our last stop listed in this post, it covers only 10 miles and with wineries the whole way. You can pack a picnic to go with you on your day trip, though some wineries also have a little market to get some picnic supplies.

Literally right down the street from Ledson, just a mile down, is St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. They have a wine tasting room which has a back patio with incredible views that showcase the wineries and mountains. The other highlight with St Francis is that they offer Culinary Wine Adventures. By that, I mean wine and food tasting experiences which you can enjoy to understand how to pair their wine with food. The experiences vary from cheese and charcuterie to a 5 course food pairing to a private estate 9 course dinner that kicks off with a wine reception.

On the day I visited, wine country was lucky enough to be getting some much needed rain, so the mountain views included lots of misty clouds as the rain was beginning to roll in.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

A little less then 2 miles south as we continue on Highway 12 is Chateau St Jean. The grounds even now that it was winter was full of color from the vines and from lots of beautiful pots of dwarf Satsuma Mandarin Orange trees brimming with the fruit. The Chateau architecture takes is cue from an Italian villa style. You should also note that they have 2 tasting room areas- the Main Tasting room and also if you are interested in their reserve and more limited edition wines and willing to pay more for the upscale tasting, another tasting room with separate tasting fee in the Vineyard Room.
Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Chateau St Jean in Sonoma Chateau St Jean in Sonoma

Another mile and a half down the road is an opportunity to visit a wine cave on a tour for free on the Kunde Family Estate.  When they open the doors to the wine cave (it is also a nicely informative tour) looking into the cave, it looks like such an endless hallway of barrels which is quite an effect. They are one of the oldest family owned wineries in Sonoma, having been founded in 1904 and is now in its fifth generation. You can if you’d like do a mountaintop tasting which they offer from 11:30-2:30 PM. If you’re looking for a little exercise and have 4 hours to use, you can also choose to to inquire about reserving a spot on their Hiking tour – and they have a version that is a Dog Hike. If you do bring your dog here, the dog must remain leashed – though your furry friend can go on the cave tour with us as long as he’s quiet and well behaved.

If you love wines with volcanic soil, you will also like the wines at Kunde – my favorite personally was the Kunde 1904 Dessert Cuvee. Also if you stop, look out for the hedge dressed up as a wine bottle!

The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top The The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top Wine tasting caves at Kunde Family Estate Wine tasting caves at Kunde Family Estate Wine tasting caves at Kunde Family Estate Wine tasting caves at Kunde Family Estate Tasting the Kunde 1904 Dessert Cuvee with a chocolate The beautiful views of Kunde Family Estate with their wine cave and mountain top Visiting the wine caves and tasting wines at Kunde Famnily Estate  Cute shrubbery dressed up as a Kunde Family Estate wine bottle

If you are looking for some out of this world cabernet sauvignon, you might also consider checking out Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, 5 miles south on Highway 12 from Kunde. We have now transitioned from Kenwood to Glen Ellyn.

Of the list of wineries I’ve shared, this is a more smaller, intimate tasting room though the prices were also significantly higher. Really great Cabernet though!
Visiting Arrowood Winery, which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons Visiting Arrowood Winery Visiting Arrowood Winery which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons Visiting Arrowood Winery which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons Visiting Arrowood Winery which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons Visiting Arrowood Winery which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons Visiting Arrowood Winery which offers outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons

Clearly, I’m also smitten with visiting vineyards in the winter for the lovely colors of the leaves!

The last winery I am going to highlight is Imagery Estate Winery and Art Gallery, which is at the same initial driveway as Arrowood off Highway 12 – you just have to turn left at the fork instead of right.

While most winery stops were 30 minutes to an hour, we spent our longest winery stop here and the other couple we were traveling with signed up to be wine club members (and I admit I also bought several wines to take home).

They have a huge variety of different varietals to try. They create original art for their bottles, some of the art which is displayed in a little gallery in the back, and F and I spent time looking through their prints and magnets of that art as well. Sadly I was so busy drinking I didn’t get many photos except for these.

Imagery wines are only sold here, so this would be your only chance to get them. Each artwork for each bottle must include the Parthenon in done way which makes it a bit of a hunt to find it on some, or interesting to see how it got incorporated in others. And there’s hundreds of these labels to peruse. They also have a little garden on their property which helps supply local restaurant The Girl and The Fig!

Visiting Imagery Estate Winery Visiting Imagery Estate Winery Visiting Imagery Estate Winery Visiting Imagery Estate Winery Visiting Imagery Estate Winery

What is your favorite time of year to visit vineyards- spring, summer, or fall/winter?

This post is the third in my series about visiting Sonoma. For 2014 I have one more Sonoma post where I will recap the holiday (Thanksgiving) meal at The Girl and The Fig, and after the New Year, the series will continue with more wineries, and also looking at beer by visiting breweries in the area.

 

 

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Comments

  1. You two managed to visit a lot of wineries!! There are so many in this area, I love learning about more that I haven’t visited. My favorite time to visit wineries is definitely in the fall. The scenery is picture perfect!

  2. Wow! Gorgeous pictures! Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate all the detail that went into your descriptions… It may just come in handy later. 🙂

  3. Bill Volckening says:

    oooooo, lucky you! I’m in Maine, and shouldn’t complain, but people here don’t like rain, and I think snow is a pain. 🙂

    Have fun, happy holidays!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Continuing south on Highway 12 with visits at St. Francis, Chateau St Jean, Kunde Family Estate, Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, Imagery Estate Winery […]

  2. […] Continuing south on Highway 12 with visitis at St. Francis, Chateau St Jean, Kunde Family Estate, Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, Imagery Estate Winery […]

  3. […] Continuing south on Highway 12 with visits at St. Francis, Chateau St Jean, Kunde Family Estate, Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, Imagery Estate Winery […]

  4. […] Continuing south on Highway 12 with visits at St. Francis, Chateau St Jean, Kunde Family Estate, Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, Imagery Estate Winery […]

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