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A cozy warren of shops, offices and wine tasting rooms, a stroll down Vine Alley presents an inviting detour on the south side of the historic Sonoma Plaza.
Also called Sonoma Court Shops, the alleyway evokes a European feel with its fountain, pastel pink stucco walls and tiled walkway. Look for the tasting room signs and the little Bacchus statue on East Napa Street, pass under greenery-fringed archways and begin exploring—you can even make a round trip if you can wend your way down one of the narrow passageways that lead back to the street!
If you’ve enjoyed wandering this way before, check back in, as much is new lately even in this seemingly sleepy little courtyard.
Good news for white wine drinkers at our first stop: Passaggio offers not only Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Grigio, Roussanne, Riesling and Chenin Blanc, too. Ask about Trousseau Gris, a rare grape grown in the Russian River Valley.
One of the most recent additions, opened in June 2016, stylish Fulcrum plays to the Pinot Noir set. At the bar or at café tables, explore plushly fruited Pinot from top Sonoma County vineyards like Gap’s Crown.
Cabernet Sauvignon shares the bar with Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at this rustically styled spot.
The “sigh” refers to the sound that a properly uncorked champagne bottle makes. But they’ll happily demonstrate the way to crack it open with élan: with a saber! Billed as Sonoma’s only “bubble bar,” Sigh Sonoma’s cushy window nook seating and slate of both Sonoma County sparkling wines and the fizzy product of the Champagne region of France make it a pleasant place to rest your feet awhile.
This spot, which some visitors may recall was the Envolve tasting room, is centrally located at the end of the main alley, by a courtyard and fountain. With a focus on Russian River Valley Pinot and Chardonnay—Viognier is sublime, as well—Sonoma-Loeb has been in business for more than 25 years, but this is their first tasting room. Wines continue to be made Napa Valley’s acclaimed Chappellet Winery, which recently acquired the brand.
Tucked into an alcove around the corner, intrepid visitors will find cool-climate Syrah made by a Scotsman with a love for the wines of the northern Rhone. Steve Law takes a democratic vote of his wine club members to finalize his “Drouthy Neebors,” or “thirsty neighbors,” blend.
Double back and find the sign plate, a few doors to the south, on East Napa Street, if you get lost in the twists and turns at the end of Vine Alley. But Westwood is a tasting room with a sense of place, indeed: the wines are sourced from their own Annadel Gap vineyard, situated at the north end of Sonoma Valley. Instead of a walk-up bar, expect an informative, guided tasting with table or sofa seating. Syrah, Pinot Noir and rare Counoise.
Named after the original “wild man” from the epic of Gilgamesh, this bright and airy tasting room can be found on Broadway, as well as accessed by a door in Vine Alley. Favorites include Humbaba Rhone-style blend and Zinfandel from the historic Bedrock vineyard.
New to Sonoma, but a longtime gem in Carneros, this small family winery grows certified organic grapes. Try Carneros Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah while perusing the art gallery.
Did we leave anything out? If so, it’s yours to discover…
Vine Alley: 27 E Napa Street, Sonoma
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