We are big fans of red Zinfandel, a grape with a big, bold flavor and great versatility in taste, style, character, and alcohol content. It’s most prevalent in California, which has the highest number of Zinfandel plantings in the world. First grown there in the 1800s, it’s known as the state’s “heritage grape.” Some California wineries specialize exclusively in Zinfandel, while others offer it as one of several varietals sold.
But which wineries produce Zinfandel? And which ones are standouts? It takes some homework to figure that out.
One new resource to help visitors learn about California Zinfandel is the “California Zinfandel Trail.” Created in 2021, the Trail is spread out, running from Mendocino in the North down through much of the state. It provides a nice introduction to California Zinfandel and suggests several itineraries.
However, it only lists a few wineries in each region, and doesn’t rate them, so it’s not as helpful as one might like.
So we’ll share what we’ve learned. Here we have identified 11 Sonoma wineries for Zinfandel fans to check out.
We recommend that you sample the California Zinfandels of Sonoma County because it’s one of the premier growing regions for Zinfandel, comprising 12 percent of the County’s red wine acreage, and is also relatively compact, so you can visit a number of wineries that offer it in one trip.
While we have not had a chance to sample every Zinfandel in Sonoma (we’re working on it!), we have discovered several favorites in our search for the best Sonoma wineries for Zinfandel fans.
Here’s a brief overview of 11 wineries that not only produce great Zinfandel in Sonoma but also provide a very nice wine tasting experience. They are in alphabetical order. We have personally been to these wineries and tasted the wines. A few of them are so good that we have become members of their wine clubs.
1. Carol Shelton Wines. Carol Shelton is known as the “Queen of Zinfandel” and produces a multitude of award-winning wines. The tasting room is homey, but not idyllic; it’s currently based out of an industrial park in Santa Rosa. Don’t be fooled; it’s well worth the visit. The wines are also a great value.
2. Dry Creek Vineyard. This Healdsburg winery, founded in 1972, is family-owned and prides itself on making classic varietals. It produces at least 10 great Zinfandels, several of which received scores of 90 points or higher from Wine Spectator.
3. Hartford Family Winery. Hartford, founded in 1994, produces a number of varietals, including what it calls “high personality” Zinfandels from some of the oldest vines in California. These are higher-end wines. The winery has a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, but if you can, we suggest you visit the winery itself, which is in nearby Forestville.
4. Limerick Lane Cellars. Limerick Lane, consisting of only 30 acres, specializes in Zinfandels and Rhone-style reds, which it says is “unique” since it’s in an appellation more known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It planted its first Zinfandel vines in 1910. Located down a dead end road in Healdsburg, it’s one of the most renowned wineries for this varietal.
5. Martinelli. This winery in Windsor produces high-end, limited-edition wines, including several heritage Zinfandels. The Martinelli family has been wine growers and farmers on the property since the 1880s. Its oldest Zinfandel vines are over 140 years old.
6. Mauritson Wines. In operation since 1868, this tiny Healdsburg winery packs a big punch. it produces about seven different Zinfandels, two of which were on the tasting menu last time we visited.
7. Pedroncelli Winery. This winery makes several different wines, but started with Zinfandel in 1927 and is well known for this varietal (it also makes a rose of Zinfandel). Some of its Zinfandel vines are more than 100 years old. A little further out in Geyserville, its wines are a bit more reasonably priced .
8. Seghesio Family Vineyards. Seghesio, established in 1895, is primarily a Zinfandel producer, although it does grow a few other varietals, such as Chardonnay and Barbera. It’s an easy walk from the main drag in Healdsburg, so it’s a great spot to visit in the afternoon after tootling around the region.
9. Stephen & Walker. This boutique, woman-owned winery with a tasting room in the heart of Healdsburg features red wines, including some excellent Zinfandels. There are at least seven available for purchase, and two were on the tasting menu the last time we were there.
10. Truitt Hurst Winery. This Healdsburg winery produces a number of Zinfandels, some of which are from 30-70 year old vines. There are usually at least a couple on the tasting menu. The winery prides itself on its farming and biodynamic gardens, and focuses on the ecosystem; don’t be surprised to see farm animals in the vineyards.
11. Wilson Winery. Zinfandel is the main event at this family-owned winery, part of a small group of affiliated wineries. Founded in 1992, it does produce other wines, mostly reds. In Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Valley, its tasting room patio provides a pretty view of its vineyards and the nearby hills.
We hope that this helps you find great Sonoma wineries for the Zinfandel fans in your life. Please share any additional great Zinfandels that you discover!
Have any suggestions or feedback? Don’t hesitate to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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