3 Romantic Sonoma County Wineries… to the Rescue

passalacquaHas anyone else noticed that Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day are falling on back-to-back days this year?

Not being the superstitious type, and very secure in my relationship, I’m not too worried about it. But it does seem like a double whammy for couples that could be on sturdier ground. Just sayin’…

Don’t let this calendar confluence-conflagration conspire to land you in romance time-out. If you haven’t procured the perfect Valentine’s Day gift yet, prepare a simple itinerary based on the information that follows, and tuck it inside that card you’re picking up at the local Hallmark store after work today.

California’s Sonoma County provides no shortage of romantic winery destinations — estates around which one can plan a most pleasurable and memorable experience. Three of our favorite Sonoma destinations are Paradise Ridge Winery, Passalacqua Winery and Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards.

“A visit to Paradise Ridge Winery in the daytime is lovely,” notes the San Francisco Chronicle. “On summer nights with the view and the sunset, it’s a special treat.”

The perfect combination of romance, family values and rich European tradition inspired the dream of Paradise Ridge, which graces a hillside over the city of Santa Rosa. When Walter Byck married Marijke Hoenselaars in Holland in 1961, little did they realize that together they would build a wine estate in the heart of one of the world’s finest grape-growing regions.

Walter and Marijke moved to Santa Rosa in 1965 and realized they had found a haven to raise their growing family. In 1978, after more than a year of searching for a ranch where their five children could camp, hike and fish, Walter came home one night, rain dripping from his coat, and said, “Marijke, children… I have seen paradise!” Thereafter, the 156 acres of land above the Russian River Valley became known as Paradise Ranch.

Today, its unique California design welcomes visitors with a European-styled courtyard, leaf-shaped deck, expansive verandas and a terra cotta terrace. Guests also can enjoy breathtaking views of the vineyards and the Russian River Valley from the distinctive indoor/outdoor tasting bar. The beautiful and serene setting also provides the perfect atmosphere for joyful brides and grooms to exchange their wedding vows.

Each Wednesday from May through mid-October, Paradise Ridge hosts “Wines & Sunsets,” showcasing local food vendors and live music, all while enjoying spectacular sunsets from the winery’s expansive veranda and beautiful terrace.

Passalacqua Winery is a family-owned wine estate in Healdsburg, where wine has been made by five generations.

The story of the Passalacqua family in the United States goes back to 1865, when Francesco Passalacqua emigrated from Genoa, landing in San Francisco and settling in Healdsburg, where he immediately planted grapes. In 1895, he opened Fitch Mountain Cellars. The original house and half-acre of grapes still stand on Fitch Street in downtown Healdsburg.

In 1930, Francesco’s widow, Rachel, purchased the Oliveto Wine Company in downtown Healdsburg, and in 1933 her daughter Edith opened Sonoma County Cellars in the building. Edith was one of the first women to make wine and to own and operate a winery in California after Prohibition, and she did so until her retirement in 1958. Aunt Edith’s original label design graces each bottle of Passalacqua’s Estate Zinfandel.

In 1979, third-generation Tom Passalacqua and his wife Sandi purchased a 300-acre ranch off Mill Creek Road, at the southern tip of Dry Creek Valley. They planted one-third to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1996. In 2000, their son Jason, inspired by the Cabernet acreage and the families’ history, began making wine.

The current property on Lambert Bridge Road opened as Passalacqua Winery in 2004, with a tasting room showcasing Zinfandel from select vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s TR Passalacqua Vineyard.

The winery offers sweeping vineyard views and comfortable seating areas to explore Passalacqua wines, including a tasting deck and private-access gardens.

The wines of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, while always well received, have continued to improve over 25 growing seasons in Sonoma. The family legacy of uncompromising quality is passed down through generations, and the patience-testing méthode champenoise process of aging and blending is paramount.

Gloria Ferrer is a unique, beautiful, memorable and welcoming place for couples, and many have exchanged vows beneath the estate’s grapevine-covered arbor. Imagine dancing the night away under a star-studded sky overlooking the vineyards… raising a glass of exceptional sparkling wine made on the premises… and dining on elegant cuisine provided by local chefs — comfortable in the knowledge that Gloria Ferrer’s professional event staff is attending to every detail.

No wonder it’s one of Sonoma County’s most popular destinations — for weddings, Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion.

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For further information…

4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

3805 Lambert Bridge Rd.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

23555 Arnold Dr.
Sonoma, CA 95476


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