10 wow-worthy sparkling wine tours sure to impress your guests in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties

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When relatives and friends are headed to town, it’s likely that you will be called on to play tour guide. Do you have your itinerary in hand?

If the answer is no, remember that you live in paradise, with classy sparklers in your own backyard that rival the quality of French Champagne. Share a slice of the good life by taking your loved ones on a Wine Country sparkling tour.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 sparkling wine houses in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties and have pinpointed the key “sense of place” for each so you’ll have the best experience possible while on the property.

Your guests will be knocking on your door soon, so there’s no time to spare. Peruse the list and make your plan.

We start the loop in Sebastopol and work our way east through Sonoma and Napa, than head north through the Napa Valley and west to Healdsburg and Guerneville. You can start at any point along the way, and if you’d like to add two destination wineries in Mendocino County, plan a sidetrip to Philo in the beautiful Anderson Valley.

Iron Horse Vineyards

Sense of Place — The boutique feel of this family operation makes the experience especially charming. “You can look all the way across Sonoma County to Mt. St. Helena, with the vineyards spilling out at your feet,” said partner/CEO Joy Sterling.

Not-to-be-missed — The mini-dosage tasting will show you how sparklers are finished by adding additional wine. As Sterling explains, “It’s amazing how less than one percent of the contents of the bottle can so dramatically change the style of the wines … much like seasoning in cooking.”

Boost Your Wine IQ — The 2000 Brut LD (Late Disgorged) has been aging for 14 years, and you can get a taste of this elegant, refined sparkler in the tasting room.

ironhorsevineyards.com, 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, (707) 887-1507.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Sense of Place — The architecture of this winery was inspired by a classic Catalan farmhouse, revealing Gloria Ferrer’s lineage with the Ferrer family of Spain. The property offers views of vineyards and of San Pablo Bay.

Not-to-be-Missed — The remodeled Visitors Center is the starting point for tours that feature the underground caves as well as food and wine pairing.

Boost Your Wine IQ — In partnership with UC Davis, Gloria Ferrer spearheaded the first and most definitive clonal research trials on pinot noir and chardonnay clones from Champagne, France. You can learn more about this on the tour.

gloriaferrer.com, 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, (707) 933-1917.

Domain Carneros

Napa/Sonoma County Line

Sense of Place — This house of bubbly is an ornate French chateau with gorgeous views that reach deep into the Carneros region. On chilly days there’s usually a fire in the tasting room.

Not-to-be-Missed — The elegant style of the sparklers are what head winemaker Eileen Crane likens to “Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress.”

Boost Your Wine IQ — The flagship sparkler here is Le Reve, which means “The Dream” in French.

domaincarneros.com, 1240 Duhig Road, just off Highway 12 between Napa and Sonoma, (707) 257-0101.

Mumm Napa

Mumm’s historic wooden buildings are nestled into the hillside among native California oaks. The view from the back patio is of vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. The goal was for the winery to blend into the surroundings

Not-to-be-Missed — Before you start tasting, take a look at the winery’s gallery of Ansel Adams photographs.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Then opt for the Heritage Collection. It’s a sampling of DVX wines, named after founding winemaker Guy Devaux.

mummnapa.com, 8445 Silverado Trail, Napa (707) 967-7700.

Domaine Chandon

Sense of place — To get to this sleek house of bubbly there’s a bridge, and once you cross it you see gorgeous park-like grounds, replete with gardens and a duck pond. This modern winery is usually crowded, so you’ll want to get an early start.

Not-to-be-Missed — Here you can taste sparklers as well as cocktails such as mimosas and bellinis. Less mainstream bottlings also are available, including the Sparkling Red and the still wine, Pinot Meunier.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Daniel Shanks, the official sommelier of the White House, worked at the restaurant on Domaine Chandon’s property in the 1990s. It closed in 2014.

chandon.com, 1 California Drive, Yountville, (888) 242 6366.

Schramsberg Vineyards

Sense of Place — This sparkling wine house is home to the first caves dug in Napa for wine storage. The winery was founded in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. Now it’s under the care of the Davies family, who revived the semi-abandoned property in 1965.

Not-to-be-Missed — Sip a sparkler while checking out the hand-dug caves.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Schramsberg is the first U.S. winery to commercially produce sparkling wine in the traditional method developed in Champagne.

schramsberg.com, 1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga, (707) 942-4558.

J Vineyards & Winery

Sense of Place — Inside this modern winery is the legendary Bubble Room, a place where six-course meals are paired with sparklers. Executive Chef Erik Johnson focuses on local, seasonal dishes. Big windows reveal the surrounding gardens and vineyards beyond. (Note: the Bubble Room will be closed for remodeling Dec.7–30.)

Not-to-be-Missed — Ask for a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting of five Russian River Valley sparkling and still wines.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Last spring, E&J Gallo purchased J so the house style of winemaking may change over time.

jwine.com, 11447 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg, (888) 594-6326.

Korbel Champagne Cellars

Sense of Place — The buildings, gabled and ivy-clad, have stood among the redwoods for more than 133 years.

Not-to-be-Missed — When you’re not tasting, you’re free to picnic on the property or peruse the exotic plants in the gated gardens.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Korbel relies on a provision under U.S. law to call its bottlings California Champagne or Russian River Valley Champagne. Typically the term Champagne is reserved for sparkling wine coming from the Champagne region of France.

korbel.com, 13250 River Road, Guerneville, (707) 824-7000.


Roederer Estate

Sense of Place — This rustic winery in Mendocino County is the California outpost of French Champagne maker Louis Roederer, the same house that created Cristal.

Not-to-be-Missed — The bi-cultural sparklers which marry the best of the restrained French style with sun-kissed California fruit.

Boost Your Wine IQ — This tasting room is unique because it offers guests the chance to taste sparklers from magnums (1.5 liter bottles) daily.

roedererestate.com, 4501 CA-128, Philo, (707) 895-2288.

Scharffenberger Cellars

Sense of Place — This house of sparklers is in the hills of Anderson Valley near the rugged Mendocino Coast, just outside the town of Philo.

Not-to-be-Missed — Local artists are featured every day in the tasting room, and the gardens on the property are lovely.

Boost Your Wine IQ — Wines only found in the tasting room include the Blanc de Blancs and the Cremant.

scharffenbergercellars.com, 8501 CA-128, Philo, (707) 895-2070.

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