There are nine wine caves to visit in Sonoma and Napa, but only two are close to Sonoma Plaza.
Gundlach Bundschu was making wine for a century before they added their French-inspired wine caves in the 1990s. Guests may choose between the Vineyard & Cave walking tour or the Pinzgauer tour ($85/person, plus 18 percent gratuity) in a cool Swiss Army transport vehicle that will take you through the historic vineyards. The Wine Cave is entered through heavy wood doors tucked into a tunnel off the tasting room courtyard, guests at Gundlach Bundschu pop in one side of its wine cave and, when they’re done, emerge on the other side, with a view overlooking the vineyards and an enormous lake.
You’ll sample five estate wines—including the 2018 Gundlach Bundschu Merlot with flavors of blueberry, black tea, cocoa, and spice—along with cheese and charcuterie. If the process of winemaking interests you as much as its taste, opt for the walking tour that runs 11am to 2pm daily ($65/person, plus 18 percent gratuity). // Reservations are required; 2000 Denmark St (Sonoma), gunbun.com
Benziger is a two-time winner of Wine Enthusiast‘s people’s choice award for the best winery tour—and the people were not wrong. In the Tribute Estate Tour and Tasting ($75/person), guests get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the estate’s biodynamically farmed vineyards, winery and wine caves. The tour ends with a seated tasting of wines in a semi-private underground room.
Saving energy and money were the impetus for excavating the 30,000-square-foot underground wines caves at Benziger Family Winery, and the plan worked: Without need for additional cooling, the year-round temperature in these caves remains a balmy, barrel-friendly 67 degrees Fahrenheit.// 1883 London Ranch Rd (Glen Ellen), benziger.com