While visiting family in Sonoma during our Spring Break road trip, we spend an afternoon exploring wineries of the Dry Creek Valley. The area, specifically known for their zinfandel grapes, is located on the west side of US 101 in Northern Sonoma County close to the towns of Geyserville (tiny) and Healdsburg (small). The landscape, as one would expect, is absolutely gorgeous, void of a lot of development, and lucky for us, free from crowds. Whether that was due to the weather (rain off and on), time of year (early April), or just the fact that this particular region has remained undisturbed from a lot of other retail, I can’t be completely sure, but I certainly appreciated it!
With three kids in tow (our two: 3.5 years & 4 months + my 6 year old niece), we had to be conscious of our time and intentional about the wineries we chose. To our benefit, we had the expert guidance of a local in my brother-in-law so the guess work of deciding which stops would work best for our crew was taken out of the equation.
First up was Pedroncelli. Us adults were welcomed with a tasting menu while the kids were encouraged to saddle up to a cozy corner of the bar with a never ending supply of crackers. Once they’d had their fill, they headed outside for a round of bocce ball.
And with one eye on the kids and another on our wine glasses, we learned a bit about Pedroncelli’s history. The family has been here since 1927 and its been a family business since the beginning. The trademark grape of the area shined through in our tasting, and we decided that a couple of bottles of Zinfandel, plus a bottle of rose of Zinfandel would be an appropriate souvenir.
Preston Vineyards was next. Because the grounds here are so conducive to exploring, the kids really had no reason to set foot into the tasting room, aside from some olive and fresh bread sampling.
While Bergen and his cousin said hello to the resident chickens and followed trails into secret gardens, we learned that Preston uses organic growing techniques and the only grapes that go into their wines are the ones grown at their estate. We ended up taking home a bottle of Barbera, my most favorite red and not a variety that I see often when tasting.
I could have spend the entire afternoon at Preston. If, no—when, we return, I’d love to tour the grounds a bit more and plan a picnic lunch accompanied by my favorite wine of moment just to savor the experience.
As we left, the kids noticed the lambs on the other side of the parking area, so we decided to wander over and say hello. We’d arrived just in time for an afternoon feed.
After lunch and a hike around Lake Sonoma, we thought we could add one more tasting to our itinerary. We had Sbragia on our mind after stopping at the view point in the park to take-in the valley in its entirety. From the point, we could just barely make out the vineyard’s main building, and then we remembered that we were given a voucher for a complimentary tasting from the nice folks at Pedroncelli earlier in the day.
By then we were on our own as my brother-in-law and niece had to return home, and nap time for our preschooler had already come and gone. In hindsight, we were probably pushing it. At the same time however, we didn’t want our Sonoma experience to end, so we pressed on.
Even though we probably entered the tasting room looking disheveled, worn out, and on edge, our host was gracious. She thought our wayward and cranky children were adorable and wanted to connect with both of them. She provided coloring books for Bergen and even fashioned a toy for him made out of supplies she found behind the bar!
Needless to say, the tasting experience was rocky and often interrupted as I tried to quiet the baby and tame the preschooler. We were still successful in selecting a couple of bottles to take away. Their Merlot seemed to be the perfect gift for my red wine loving mother, and we were impressed with the Sauvignon blanc, a favorite variety of ours for sipping on warm, sunny days.
Sbragia is not only a great place to taste fantastic wine. The views of the Dry Creek valley from the outside patio area make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor…I just wish we would have had the chance to do that ourselves!
Have you visited Sonoma County? Tell us about your favorite wineries–maybe we can pay them a visit next time!
You might also be interested in reading about one of our wine experiences a little closer to home–Family friendly wineries around Lake Chelan, WA. Also, check out our 9 Tips for Wine Tasting with Kids.
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