Ravenswood Winery (18701 Gehricke Rd., Sonoma, 888/669-4679, www.ravenswood-wine.com, daily 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., $15) prides itself on making “no wimpy wines.” Though the company is now owned by a large conglomerate, Ravenswood wines are still overseen by the original winemaker, Joel Peterson, who began making California Zinfandel in 1976.
To this day, Zinfandel remains the signature varietal under the Ravenswood label. Many of the prized Zins come from individual vineyards in Sonoma County, while others are blends of grapes purchased from growers throughout California.
When you come to taste, you won’t find a stereotypical winery. Unlike many Napa and Sonoma wineries, Ravenswood sponsors a racecar, hosts a bevy of summer barbecues (yep, you can drink Zin with ribs!), and strives to make tasters of all types feel at home in the winery.
Tours and barrel tastings teach newcomers the process of winemaking, while “blend your own” seminars beckon to serious winos. Perhaps best of all, Ravenswood wines are easy on the pocketbook, ranging $13–50 per bottle.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition