Sonoma Pinot Noir Tasting: An Expert’s Guide!

Napa Valley is known for their big, bold Cabs, Paso Robles for their robust Zins, and Sonoma? Well, this is the place for lovers of Pinot Noir wines. There are over 65 grape varietals harvested in Sonoma, but Pinot reigns king. In fact, thirty percent off all Pinot Noir in California is from Sonoma County. 

Sonoma is known for being one of the largest wine regions in the state with diverse microclimates and unique topography. And with over 425 wineries, you’ll never run out of wine to taste Sonoma pinot noir. While you can practically trip and fall into a great tasting room in Sonoma, here are some of the best places to sip pinot noir in the region.

sonoma pinot noir tasting

Best Pinot Noir Wineries In Sonoma

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery tasting
Francis Ford Coppola Winery film history
Francis Ford Coppola Winery tasting

Come for the wine, stay for the museum of classic Hollywood history. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in the Geyserville region of Sonoma is the Godfather of wineries (pun intended). 

It is a large estate that features an outdoor swimming pool where visitors can buy a day pass to use and swim, hang out at the bar and drink wine in the cabanas. There’s an indoor tasting bar, a terrace for wine tasting, and a two story room featuring relics from many of Coppola’s films including his one of two Tucker classic cars, the desk from The Godfather, and all of his Oscars. 

The indoor tasting room welcomes walk-ins (no reservation required) which can be a rare find in Sonoma. Their tasting menu features five wines including their Director’s Cut Pinot Noir. It’s a wine rich in tannins with aromas of raspberries, roses, and tea leaves and your palate will linger with tastes of ripe cherries, strawberries, allspice and oak.

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Flowers Vineyards & Winery

You know your wine glass is in good hands when you visit the House of Flowers located in the Healdsburg region of Sonoma, with their main focus being to create an excellent Pinot each year. You’ll be seated in a private area in the open air gardens and taste an exquisite flight of the coastal estate Pinot Noir (and also their Chardonnay) paired with seasonal bites from their in-house culinary team. The 2020 Pinot Noir has aromas of fresh cherries, plum, and raspberry complemented with flavors of plum, raspberry, and spice.

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St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

St Francis wine tasting

Enter through the mission-inspired tasting room (the bell tower has a 1,000 pound bronze cast bell from Italy) and outside to a gorgeous terrace overlooking vineyard views of the St. Francis Winery. Get a taste of five wines across their many collections by one of their knowledgable hosts. 

This stunning certified sustainable winery has a portfolio of award-winning wines that include a bright and aromatic Pinot Noir bursting with red fruits, notes of sandalwood, and dried orange peel, ending in a smooth finish.

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La Crema Winery

La Crema specializes in cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Sip wine in a historic barn that has been converted to a multi-level tasting room on the property of Saralee’s Vineyard, dating back to 1900. Guests can sit outdoors and taste six wines including a collection of Pinot Noirs that are elegant, rich, textured, and refined. 

The best way to enjoy their Pinots? Reserve a picnic table, bring your own food, and have a DIY Picnic Flight or enjoy bottle service with one of their premier wines.

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Benziger Family Winery

Benziger winery

There’s so much more to soak up at Benziger than just wine. Belly up to the tasting bar (walk-ins welcome) and get a taste of up to six of their wines from Rosé, to Malbec to Pinot Noir. Your host will guide you through the spectacular wines while telling the interesting story of the winery and its biodynamic farming practices. 

Many of the wines offered are organic and they even have a special wine club named The Pinot Cellar club for Pinot aficionados. Their 2019 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir has elegant layers of red fruit and spice with notes of black cherry, red licorice, and sweet tobacco, a hint of black pepper, and topped off with a soft and silky texture.

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Emeritus Vineyards

Emeritus Vineyards is a winery that focuses solely on producing the best Pinot Noir in the region. Their vines are planted at close-spacing modeling those in Burgundy, France. All their wines are produced with a dry farming method where the grapes are able to achieve full ripeness without dehydrating flavor. 

The tasting room is housed inside the iconic Hallberg Ranch Vineyard and their tasting experiences vary from tasting current releases to the curated Art of Pinot Noir tasting where you can experience the power of food pairings with a collection of their Pinots. 

Their 2018 Emeritus Vineyards, Pinot Hill has a 94-point rating from Wine Enthusiast described as wine with a misty ethereal quality that adds to its sophisticated beauty — aromas of old growth forest floor, brambly thickets, graphite minerality, and sea spray that mix with boysenberry, huckleberry and elder berry and hints of burnt orange marmalade, mahogany, and roasted chestnuts.

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Ready For Your Sonoma Pinot Noir Tasting Tour?

For Pinot lovers, Sonoma is the quintessential wine region to visit. Explore the large area from the coastline to the inland including the beautiful Russian River valley. It’s the perfect wine country weekend or even a stop before heading into Napa Valley.

Author: Tiffany Carter

Tiffany is a contributing writer to Armchair Sommelier. When she isn’t writing about wine, the California native is touring local wineries (Hello Napa and Paso!) and filling her glass across the globe (Ciao, Tuscany!). She loves a full-bodied cab, but she plays favorites when it comes to a spicy Zinfandel or juicy Malbec. Her fridge is stocked with a bottle of sparkling rosé for emergencies. Hint: there’s always an emergency. You can follow Tiffany @winetastetravel.

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