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The Five Best Wineries You’ve Never Heard of in Cloverdale

The laid back charm of a laid back wine region.

J Rickards Winery

 

A rural area of kind folks, wineries, and woods, Cloverdale is perfect for those who love zinfandel, country driving, and discovering new things. Perched between Healdsburg and Hopland on Highway 101 in Sonoma County, Cloverdale is an easy day trip or a sweet place to stay. Here are five under-the-radar wineries in an under-the-radar region.

Icaria Creek Winery 
Wine to try: Zinfandel ($34) 
Wake up in the vineyard—a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house available for rent on a 50-acre vineyard property. With a fully-furnished kitchen, you can cook for yourself and sip your own wines without paying corkage. Whether you stay or not, definitely book a private tasting with owner and winemaker Jeff Smith for an easygoing experience sipping wines from the hillside overlooking the vineyards.
Appointment Only | $15 per person

Fritz Underground Winery 
Wine to try: Fritz Estate Proprietor’s Red ($45) 
Not only is the entire winery underground, it’s a second-generation family estate that uses gravity and natural geological resources instead of pumps and machinery. These techniques create integrated and balanced wines like their Proprietor’s Red, which blends Malbec/Cabernet in a bold, fruit forward way.
Appointment Only | $15 per person

Pendleton Estate
Wine to try: Ponzo Petite Sirah ($30) 
2,000 feet above the Alexander Valley floor, Pendleton boasts expansive views of Sonoma and Mendocino. The wines are reasonably priced at $30 and below, and the tastings are private, hosted by owner and winemaker Michall Pendleton.
Appointment Only | Complimentary

Blue Rock Vineyard
Wine to try: Cabernet Sauvignon (specifically 2014) ($47) 
Built in the 1880s, but recently restored, the estate is surrounded by vineyards and gardens. You feel you’ve traveled back in time—far away from your iPhone and electric car. Their intimate two-hour tasting includes six wines, homemade olive oil, local cheeses, and seemingly endless time to meander through the vineyards, lost in reverie.
Appointment Only | $45pp | $65 per person for groups of 7 or more

J Rickards Winery 
Wine to try: Muscat Blanc ($22)
Why this place is special: With a slogan like “Darn FINE Barn WINE,” you know this place isn’t going to be stuffy. Jim and Eliza Rickards host guests in a renovated barn that used to house their tractors. They also proudly show off their wine cave, which they call innovative because it’s a hole in the ground rather than a hole in a hillside. The effect is the same: Delicious.
Open Mon. to Sat., 11 am – 4 pm | Complimentary for groups of 7 or fewer

 

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