While the Napa Valley gets all the attention as far as popularity, few wine country travelers know that Sonoma County during the 1800’s was the star of California wine country. It all started in the Sonoma Valley wine country when the Buena Vista Winery was established in 1857.
In this first of two blog posts on Sonoma County’s oldest wineries, we focus on four wineries in the Sonoma Valley. Three of the four wineries are located in the town of Sonoma and the fourth just 10 miles away on Highway 12.
We begin with Gundlach Bundschu founded in 1857 and today the oldest California winery that has been in continuous operation by the same family. The winery currently has sixth-generation family member Jim Bundschu at the helm. The tasting room is filled with amazing photos and wine bottles from Gundlach’s history. The staff at Gundlach is extremely knowledgeable and very welcoming. The winery certainly has that family feel to it. One added bonus: This is one of the best picnic wineries in all of California. There are three very different and beautiful areas one can choose from to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch. The tasting room is open daily 11 to 4:30.
Our favorite wines at Gundlach Bundschu: Tempranillo and the Gerwurztraminer
The Buena Vista Winery began just three months before Gundlach Bundschu and was founded by the Count Agoston Haraszthy. The Count is said to be the first to bring Zinfandel vines to California and begin extensive cultivation of vineyards. Some call him the “The Father of California Wine.” The winery has changed hands several times in the past ten years and the Boisset Family, who also own DeLoach in Sonoma County and Raymond Vineyards in the Napa Valley, purchased Buena Vista in 2011. The original winery building and caves are being retrofitted and will be open for public tours in the late summer of 2012. The winery is located in a secluded area of the town of Sonoma and is another good spot for a picnic lunch. Tasting room open daily, 10 am to 5, Buena Vista Winery
Our Favorite Wines at Buena Vista: The Ramel Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Sebastiani Vineyards is a grand old winery in the town of Sonoma. The Sebastiani Family began operating this winery in 1904. In 2009 the Sebastiani Family stunned the wine industry when it sold the winery to Bill Foley and his Foley Estate Corporation. The winery still has a lot of history of California winemaking to view and experience. The tasting room is lavish and loaded with memorabilia. Tasting room open daily, 10 am to 5
Our Favorite wine at Sebastiani: The Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon (Bargain Wine)
Take a lovely drive up Highway 12 to the Kunde Winery. You will see some of wine country’s best views along the Sonoma Valley. The Kunde Family has been operating this winery since 1904 and it is now run by members of the fourth and fifth generations. The winery moved from its original location a few miles away to their present location in the 1970’s. Recently, a wondrous new cave system was built into their mountain vineyards. The winery has a picnic area and also features vineyard walks and dog hikes through their mountain vineyards. The current winery and tasting room were built in the 1970’s. Tasting room open daily, 10:30 am to 4:30, Kunde Winery and Vineyards. The winery also has tours of the vineyards and a hiking tour on the weekends.
Favorite wines at Kunde: The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Magnolia Lane, The 2008 Sonoma Red Dirt Red (Outstanding)