There’s always another reason to visit Wine Country, with new terrific tasting rooms debuting all the time. Here are some of our new favorites.
K. Laz Wine Collection
The Cult flight brings rare wines averaging $200 a bottle, so it’s not too surprising to discover that the tasting fee is up there, too -- $85 to taste three wines, or $165 for six, with complimentary cheeses alongside. But owner Kerrin Laz’ signature is her ability to access rare, limited allocation wines like Screaming Eagle, Abreu Vineyards and Dana Estate. As a former Dean & DeLuca wine director, she can dig into the most private cellars across Wine Country, and she served them up at private, seated experiences in her rustic wood and crystal chandelier clad tasting room on Washington Street in downtown Yountville. It’s not pretentious, either; Laz keeps things fun and real (as real as a 2012 Screaming Eagle Second Flight priced at $635 can be).
6484 Washington Street, Yountville, 707-415-5040, klazwine.com.
It’s appointment only, and for good reason – this is one of the most spectacular tasting rooms in Sonoma. It’s actually an entire house, with gardens, in the stunningly renovated historic property that used to be home to Gen. Vallejo, and later, Don Juan Casteñada. It gets pricey, with $200 lunches and $85 small plates pairings, but the cuisine is chef prepared by neighboring El Dorado Kitchen, and boasts seasonally changing delights like ham hock rilette, roasted beets with shaved fennel and arugula, and scallops with potato puree, almonds, raisins and balsamic reduction. Even the basic Three Sticks and Durell tastings, at $35 for four wines and $70 for seven, are consummate elegance – may we recommend the salon or the garden?
143 West Spain Street, Sonoma, 707-996-3328, threestickswines.com.
If you like bourbon and rye whiskeys – and who doesn’t love a little pop now and then – try these artisanal types, crafted with grains grown within 15 miles of the distillery and aged in locally coopered, charred barrels. Owners Michael and Jenny Griffo specialize in small-batch, grain-to-glass spirits, brewed in their own 250-gallon American-made copper pot, alongside lovely London style Scott Street Gin. You can see the work in action too, just reserve at email@example.com.
1320 Scott Street, Suite A , Petaluma, 707-879-8755, griffodistillery.com.
Pangloss Cellars Tasting Lounge
The white flight brings 2013 Rhone blend, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with caviar, Cowgirl creamery crème fraiche, capers, Rustic Bakery crackers and lemon ($50). Are you hooked in yet? Besides the lovely small bites pairing like three wines and a wood board generously laden with nibbles like pate, charcuterie and cheese, this historic, 113-year-old property on the Sonoma Square is gorgeous from all angles, whether you sit on a vintage armchair or couch near the picture windows or fireplace. The decorators did a grand job with old stone, weathered timber, wood floors, a bar backlit with a wall of bottles, and a portrait of the lounge’s namesake: Dr. Pangloss, the eternal optimist in Voltaire’s novel Candide watching over us all.
35 East Napa Street, Sonoma, 707-933-8565, panglosscellars.com.
Fritz Underground Winery
This is one of our favorite places for a peek underground – the tasting room is literally buried into the side of a hill. But thanks to a recent renovation, there a bit more outside to enjoy, with a little more glass and space to spread out at the expanded u-shaped elm wood bar lit by a glittering wrought iron chandelier. Making the experience even more delicious, a new estate food and wine pairing experience is a deal at $20, and be sure to sign up for the Dry Creek Valley vineyard hike tour across the 112-acre redwood-forested property ($45).
24691 Dutcher Creek Road, Cloverdale, 707-894-3389, fritzwinery.com.
Tip: Fine wines deserve a fine, worry free ride. Let Pure Luxury be your designated driver.