Wine Tasting Itinerary for Nearby Coastal Wineries
The coast is the hottest locale in Sonoma County for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s considered a winemakers frontier! You will love the beautiful drive just north of Casa Panama on Hwy 1 with unspoiled beaches and coastal views that rival Big Sur. The Fort Ross Sea View is a newly established appellation that gives recognized importance to the region. Almost all of the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the entire county are grown here but are labeled elsewhere. It makes the exploration to find the vineyards more like the old days of discovery. Find these amazing wineries and listen for extraordinary stories about how they braved the wild. Read Slave to the Vine by Darren Delmore! Pick up a bottle of Hirsch, Peay, or Flowers Pinot Noir to pack in a picnic lunch or find a good deal online and have them delivered to Casa Panama in advance. At Casa Panama you’ll find coolers, paper plates, silverware, and even Go-Vinos to make any picnic a breeze. Get your deviled eggs, ice and soft drinks at the gas station and sandwiches or salads at Café Aquatica. Allow plenty of time between stops so you can take a short hike or visit unique shops along the way. The Internet is spotty so be sure to take your favorite collection of music. Footwear should include beautifully chic hiking shoes or boots. Take a jacket and a camera!
10439 Hwy 1, Jenner
Open Daily 8 am-5 pm
Start your tour with a short hop down the hill for a latte and muffin here. For a wine-tasting picnic lunch, order sandwiches and salads ahead of time. Find a cozy spot inside or take a Zen moment to breathe in the fresh sea air while watching waterfowl and seals cruise the river. Early risers walk down and get ahead of the game.
Fort Ross Vineyard
15725 Meyers Grade, Jenner
Open 10-5 every day, $25 for 5 pours
This significant vineyard is just a 15-minute drive north but on the way there try to spot what my son calls “Dracula’s Castle”. It’s just past the curves and on the inland side. Fort Ross Vineyard is a lovely remote location down a drive past a pond with Bambi and other wildlife standing around like out of a Disney movie. This is a well-heeled destination so put on your best Sonoma County sportswear! The winery is known for its Pinot and Chardonnays but don’t miss the “Pinotage”! It’s important to appreciate that this is a true Sonoma County Coast winery open to the public.
Fort Ross Historic Park
19005 Hwy 1, Jenner
Open every day 10-4:30, Park grounds are open sunrise to sunset
(707) 847-3437 tours and information
Enjoy your picnic at Fort Ross and go for a hike or prearrange a tour of your choice. The 3,393 acre historical State Park is surrounded by beaches and redwood forests and includes the former Russian fur-trading outpost active between 1812-1842. This multi cultural settlement was the site of California’s first windmills and shipbuilding for 30 years. Visit the historic Rotchev house and other reconstructed buildings like the chapel and the stockade. Schedule a stay during any one of many annual events or schedule a tour of your own.
45075 Bohan Dillan Rd., Cazadero
(707) 847-3600 Wine Club Members, Appointment only
Hirsch is an all-important Sonoma County Coastal wilderness winery with 30 years of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay growing experience. The winery is open to wine members and tours only. If you’re a member do not miss this! If not, think about them and how they’ve been so instrumental as a leader while driving in the area. You can also taste the wines at their tasting room in Healdsburg or find a bottle on the Rivers End wine list. If you read Slave to the Vine, you’ll have a good inside idea of what David Hirsch is all about and how journalist David Delmore learned the wine business the hard way.
Flowers/ Camp Meeting Ridge
28500 Sea View Rd., Cazadero
Reservations are required for their full experience, $55 per person. The last seating is at 3:30 pm.
While this isn't strictly a coastal winery, we include it because Healdsburg is the next stop down West Side road after the River Area. In 1989 Joan and Walt Flowers took a drive up Hwy 1 to visit a property on the ridgeline of the Sonoma Coast. This was uncharted territory for farming grapes. At 1100 feet above the coast they found where farming was possible. A wine geek favorite, their "full experience" is well worth it.
Coast Kitchen, Timber Cove
21780 Hwy 1, Jenner
Daily 8-11AM, 12-3PM, 3-5PM, 5-9PM, Bar- 8AM-10PM
If you’re like my sister, you will prefer to have a good lunch served to you at a table with a view from a bluff above the ocean! In that case, Teri highly recommends you sit and relax at Timber Cove’s restaurant; another 12 miles drive north, for a well- rounded menu of good food and local wines.
Rivers End Restaurant
11048 Hwy 1, Jenner
(707) 865-2484 Reservations required
11;30-3 &5-8:30PM Sun-Fri (Sat open until 9)
When you get back to Jenner stop in at one of the finest restaurants in Sonoma County! You’ll need a reservation unless you want to order from the bar. It’s about 3 minutes from Casa Panama so either direction this is a must-do for incredibly divine cuisine! People drive miles and miles to celebrate their special occasions here. The wine list includes many fine coastal wines. Please give owners Bert and Stephanie our best regards.
Tasting by the Sea Wine Bar
10439 Hwy 1, Jenner
(707) 888-8821 Reservations are welcome but not necessary
We finish where we started at a good place to go wine tasting anytime. This tasting room is a few minutes' walk from Casa Panama right on the river. Gregory specializes in Russian River and Sonoma Coast wines. For non-drinkers try the flavored sparkling water blends! Cheese and brochette plates can be ordered from Gypsy. It’s a glassed-in outdoor patio with a tiny indoor bar. Sunsets are worth waiting for! Dogs can go along to play in the river. Wear shorts and flip-flops. Take a sweatshirt or buy one from the good-looking selection at the gift shop.
25179 HWY 116, Duncans Mills.
11-5 Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Closed Mon, Tue & Wed Jan- Feb
11-7 Fri Don’t Have to be a Local Night from 5-7
Three 1 oz. tastings for $10
A place that specializes in small local wines to go wine tasting anytime! This is a favorite stop at Duncans Mills with favorite people John and David. They can suggest wines to take on your picnic or out to dinner. The patio is small but lovely. This is a fun place for tasting wine with a nice selection of cheeses, prosciutto, and salami for sale and pairing. For more than 6 people, a call ahead is appreciated. When the group arrives ask John to recommend a bottle to open then ask for his advice on what cheeses to pair. Receive a local’s discount by mentioning Casa Panama. Pay no corkage fee at Coastal restaurants because you bought your wine at Sophie's.