Wine Country Itinerary: Sonoma Valley - Kenwood

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By Robert P. Farmer

KENWOOD, CA - Though its nickname is Valley of the Moon, the Sonoma Valley is a valley of many moons. A few suns and other planets are thrown in for good measure. The many and various valleys and hills, towns and bergs--indeed appellations themselves--combine to make Sonoma Valley a land of many experiences. One such self-contained experience can be found in Kenwood. It's part of the Sonoma Valley AVA, but it's got characteristics and distinctions all its own. Like many small towns in Wine Country, it's centered on a town plaza and is surrounded by top-notch eateries, inns, and of course fantastic wineries.
Stop 1: Kenwood Inn
Check in at the Kenwood Inn, a luxurious home base for a Kenwood-centric itinerary. The Inn is the standard-bearer for comfort in this part of the valley, and for years has attracted a discerning clientele who covet luxury and seclusion. Each of the 29 guestrooms is unique, but all have sumptuous featherbeds and amenities befitting a four-star inn. The onsite spa and dining make it difficult to muster the desire to leave the premises. But leave you must, in order to enjoy the surroundings. And returning at day's end will be that much sweeter.
Location:10400 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood
Phone: 707-833-1293

Stop 2: Kunde Estate Winery
The tasting room itself is worth stopping in for, built s a replica of the original Kinneybrook Ranch cattle barn that for a century served as a landmark in the region. But Kunde's sustainably farmed, estate vineyard wines are the reason visitors linger, often enjoyed on the oak-studded fountain-cooled picnic grounds. Kunde's tasting room offers many winery-only selections and is augmented by a assortment of wine country-centric art, clothing, and of course food--from fine oils and vinegars to gourmet spreads and sauces that will impress the folks back home.
Tasting Room: 9825 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 707-833-5501, Open daily 10:30am-4:30pm
Tasting Fee: $10 & $20.

Stop 3: Kenwood Vineyards
With roots dating to 1906 as the former Pagani Brothers Winery, Kenwood Vineyards was reborn in 1970 by San Franciscans who renamed it for the region and who took care to preserve much of the original winery's panache. The modern winery is housed in the original buildings and is surrounded twenty-two acres of grapes used to produce beautiful estate varietals in the traditional cuvee method. Kenwood's Reserve, Jack London, and Single Vineyard wines have a rabid following. All are offered for sampling and purchase in the tasting room, poured by a gregarious crew who know their stuff.
Tasting Room: 9592 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 707-833-5891, Open daily 10am-4:30pm
Tasting Fee: $5

Stop 4: Chateau St. Jean
If there is a "required" stop in Kenwood, this might be it. Chateau St. Jean is certainly among the most iconic wineries in the area, and it's reputation as a setting for lavish events--including celebrity weddings--is well established. But the wines remain the star attraction, including the award-winning cabs and chards. A popular pursuit here is a reserve tasting, followed by purchasing a couple bottles (tasting fee refunded with purchase) and an impromptu picnic among the gorgeous grounds and gardens and supplied by nosh from the onsite store.
Tasting Room: 8555 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 707-833-4134, Open daily 10am-5pm
Tasting Fee: Tastings $10 & $15;

Stop 5: Landmark Vineyards
Off the Sonoma Highway is a remarkable winery well worth the small detour. Landmark opened at its Kenwood location in 1974, moved here from Windsor by the granddaughter of the John Deere tractor family. Those agricultural roots are evident at the beautiful Mission-style winery. And the staff is as eager to discuss the history as they are the extensive library of wines poured in the tasting room. Each day in September the winery offers harvest lunches, featuring chef-prepared three-course meals paired with estate wines and during which guests are offered behind-the-scenes looks at the fall crush. ($135 per person).
Tasting Room: 101 Adobe Canyon Rd. Kenwood, 707-833-0218;Open daily 10am-4:30pm
Tasting Fee: $5 & $25

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You left out the No1 winery...St.Francis for bis reds!

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