When the pioneering families of Sonoma County winemaking wanted to unwind after a long day of pruning in the vineyards, many turned to bocce.
These days, a number of wineries have constructed bocce courts for their customers to use. You’ll find them all over the county, but none more clustered than the five in the north county community of Healdsburg.
Better still, these wineries take winemaking seriously. Bocce is the diversion; wine is the passion. (And if you’ve been a club member for a few years, you’ve probably enjoyed a bottle or two from a couple of these estates.)
Let’s take a quick tour of these five esteemed Healdsburg wineries…
1. ARMIDA WINERY. Follow a steep, winding driveway next to rows of hillside vines and you’ll come to a geodesic dome-shaped tasting room, a parking lot and a bocce court with a breathtaking view of the valley below. Wines to try between games: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
2. DAVIS FAMILY. Bring your “A” game because this winery’s court is adjacent to the Russian River, which means passing canoes have a bird’s eye view of your shotmaking. The court is shorter than regulation – about 60 feet in length – so that should help make up for any lack of skill. Wines to try: Old Vine Zinfandel Port and Pinot Noir.
3. 4791 DRY CREEK ROAD. Not a winery, per se, but rather a collection of five tasting rooms on a hill just north of downtown. The bocce court has a great view of the vineyards and adjacent cypress trees. Wines to try: With five wineries pouring, there are too many to mention.
4. PEDRONCELLI. The bocce court is surrounded by grapevines, olive trees and rosemary bushes. The setting is so pretty, it’s enough to test your concentration on the game. Wines to try: Zinfandel Rose and Sauvignon Blanc.
5. SEGHESIO FAMILY VINEYARDS. No great view here, but the two courts fall within the official length of 75 to 90 feet. And the playing surface is perfect. Wines to try: Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese.