While grapevines carpet the floor of Sonoma Valley and California's oak woodlands and redwoods are on the hills above it, sometimes it's worth a trip below to see what lies beneath the famous soil of Sonoma and explore the wine caves of the region.
Wine caves serve to keep wine cool during the heat of summer and warm when temperatures dip in winter, an innovation from the days before electricity and refrigeration.
Some caves are open all the time, others are part of tours and still others are reservable for special events like weddings and corporate meetings. If you do want to visit a wine cave it is wise to call ahead as during harvest the caves may not be accessible - they are after all working parts of a winery and the winemakers are busy moving grapes, barrels and freshly-squeezed juice!
Deerfield Ranch Winery
Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley in Kenwood, Deerfield Ranch Winery not only has a wine cave, but the entire tasting room is part of the large cave complex dug out of the side of the hills that flank the valley. A visit can also include a tour of the crush pad and barrels while tasting is in the furnished cave. No appointments necessary for groups fewer than eight people.
10200 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
Kunde Family Winery
For over a century, five generations of the Kunde family have farmed this 1,800 acre estate in Sonoma Valley. Ask in the tasting room about the cave tours that include guided tastings and the chance to try barrel samples.
9825 Sonoma Highway
Kenwood, CA 95452
High up on Moon Mountain Road, Repris Wines offers stunning views of the Sonoma Valley and hills that surround it. After a vineyard tour a stop in the wine caves is worth it to see 18,000 square feet of wine caves that run under the mountain. Reservations required so they can prepare for your visit.
1700 Moon Mountain Road
Sonoma CA 95476
Just five minutes from Sonoma's quaint plaza, a visit to the historic Buena Vista Winery can include the chance to see the caves that were hand-dug out of the mountains more than 150 years ago. Be on the lookout for The Count, Agoston Haraszthy, who is rumored to still inhabit the winery he founded in 1857. Sometimes he even gives tours...
18000 Old Winery Road
Sonoma, CA 95476
See the winery listing for a full list of wineries and tasting rooms in Sonoma Valley, and call ahead to see if there are wine caves open for exploration.