Fall Colors at Sonoma Wineries
There’s no need to travel to Vermont to see its famous fall colors, foliage and the vivid hues of chartreuse, orange, amber, crimson and purple. We have them in Sonoma, too, often conveniently displayed at and near vineyards and wineries. Tasting wine while soaking in the autumn color is far more rewarding than watching sap run from a tap in a New England maple tree.
This is the ideal time to experience Sonoma County’s Technicolor transition from summer to fall and, eventually, winter. But don’t wait too long — some trees, shrubs and flowering plants, just like the Oakland A’s, have already called it a season.
In the case of grapevines, a very dry 2021 made for a quick, light-yield harvest (though winemakers report wine quality will be exceptional), and the majority of locally grown grapes will have already been picked by mid-October.
Yet there’s still plenty of eye-popping “leaf peeping” to be enjoyed in Wine Country in the next few weeks, sometimes accompanied by glorious sunsets and always with exceptional wines to sip.
Here are a handful of Sonoma County wineries with great October visuals to go with the vino.
Bartholomew Estate Vineyards and Winery
Hiking through vineyards is a fine way to see fall colors. But the elevated view from atop a gentle horse at “Bart Estate” offers a higher-level, ever-changing perspective. The Sonoma winery, in conjunction with Sonoma Valley Trail Rides, hosts 45-minute equine rides through the 375-acre estate and its vineyards, with a bottle of wine to take with you upon dismounting ($150).
Alternatively, hike a 3-mile trail and see oaks, madrones, redwoods and grapevines in their various stages of seasonal change. Afterward, taste at the winery, which honors Frank and Antonia Bartholomew, who bought the land in 1943 and founded Hacienda Winery on the site where Agoston Haraszthy planted some of the first European vine cuttings in California in 1857.
1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma, 707-509-0450, bartholomewestate.com
Kunde Family Winery
There are few Sonoma wineries that show off autumn colors as gloriously as this Kenwood winery and vineyard estate. The 1,805-acre ranch, planted to grapevines by the Kunde family in 1879, is enveloped by terraced vineyards, oak woodlands and native shrubs and grasses. At this time of year, the collage resembles an L.L. Bean blanket of marigold, pumpkin and rust — especially when seen from 1,400 feet up during the Mountain Top Tasting ($80).
Visitors in search of fall colors also can join fourth-generation winegrower Jeff Kunde and his wife, Roberta Kunde, and their pooches for a four-hour hike, tasting and lunch ($90), with views and up-close inspections of the foliage that so remarkably transforms in October. Bring your own pup (leashed) as you take it all in before it’s gone; the last scheduled 2021 dog hike is Oct. 23. A portion of the fee will be donated to Dogwood Animal Rescue and the Sonoma County Humane Society.
825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5501, kunde.com
Long known for its Tuscan-style tasting room and marketplace in Sonoma Valley and the wetlands below that harbor migratory waterfowl, Viansa also affords impressive 270-degree views of the valley and its autumnal palette. Wood-framed hillside outlooks — the winery calls them grown-up tree houses — can be booked for groups of up to six and come with service of four wines, cheese and charcuterie ($75). The Summit Tasting ($30) is on the hilltop terrace, with similarly broad views and four wines poured.
On Saturdays and Sundays through October, wood-fired pizzas are available to buy, in addition to cheeses, charcuterie, sandwiches and other fare. An al fresco Vine to Table Twilight Dinner is Oct. 23 ($189), with Glen Ellen Star Executive Chef Ari Weiswasser preparing the Italian-inspired menu.
25200 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 800-995-4740, viansa.com
Read the full article at: The Best Wineries in Sonoma for Seeing Fall Colors
by Linda Murphy, October,2021, Sonoma Magazine
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