Winemakers know that caves have perfect, chilly-humid climates for aging wines. Wine tasters, meanwhile, love the other cool factor of caves – touring, and sipping. Dig these underground experiences:
Thomas George Estates, Healdsburg
Debuted in 2010 as one of Sonoma’s newest caves, the 8,000 square foot space is lavish with glamorous chandeliers, antique wood tasting bars, and snaking hallways leading to a private tasting lounge and wine library. Book the cavern’s long communal table for sit down dinners of up to 70 people, and be sure to savor the signature silky Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
8075 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, 707-431-8031, thomasgeorgeestates.com.
Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma
Claustrophobic types will appreciate that this is a two-sided cave, entered through heavy wood doors tucked in a tunnel off the courtyard from the tasting room, and exited through a passage overlooking the vineyards and lake. Activities abound, including guided Farming Tour & Cave Tastings, a Harvest Tour & Cave Tasting, and a Barrel Cave Tour & Tasting, each ending with a seated wine tasting in the Barrel Cave Dining Room.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma, 707-938-5277, gunbun.com.
This small, family owned winery boasts nearly 7,000 square feet of caves tucked into its Dry Creek Valley hillside, doing double duty with tastings alongside the winemaking and barrel area. It’s also one of Sonoma County’s best-kept secrets for private events, featuring a dining room, private tasting bar with barrel samples, and a music room for everything from live performances to cooking classes hosted by area chefs.
9711 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-473-9171, bellawinery.com.
Hans Fahden Vineyards and Winery, Santa Rosa/Calistoga
This 100-acre estate has been in the Fahden family since 1912, with a volcanic cave hidden away in the Mayacamas mountain range and producing less than 2,000 cases per year. Besides the showcase Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a stunning Monet garden, too, anchored by a teahouse and water lily-laced ponds. Ask about private dinners, for sit-down candlelit meals prepared by local top chefs.
4855 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, 707-942-6760, hansfahden.com.
Schug Carneros Estate Winery, Sonoma
The German chalet-style winery may be the last place you expect a traditional cave, yet the stone structures are there, tucked into a gentle hillside and lined with gorgeous barrels. Tours include vineyard walks, a peek into the winery production area and crush pads, and naturally, a finale tasting.
602 Bonneau Road, Sonoma, 707-939-9363, schugwinery.com.
Deerfield Ranch Winery
Who knew caves could be this huge – spanning more than 23,000 square feet, and cut so cleverly into the shape of a wine glass. There are hundreds of barrels behind the portal doors at the entry, leading to the Grand Room furnished in overstuffed couches and chairs where up to 20 wines await for your sipping pleasure.
10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5215, deerfieldranch.com.
Tip: The best way to enjoy wine tasting is to not worry about driving. Pure Luxury Transportation can take the wheel, with your private limo or Town Car.
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