Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wineries with Gardens

Yesterday, a guest inquired about visiting wineries with beautiful gardens. I hadn't really thought about this but, after a little thought, my top three recommendations were Matanzas Creek, Ferrari Carano, and Kendall Jackson's Wine Center; all in Sonoma County.

Matanzas Creek lies east of the city of Santa Rosa in Bennett Valley. The winery is surrounded by a spectacular lavender garden. If you visit in June, when the flowers are usually at their peak, you will see hillsides covered in purple flowers surrounded by native grasses and olive trees. Matanzas Creek is located a fair distance from other wineries, so you have to make it a destination. If you enjoy beautiful lavender, you will not be disappointed. The winery is open for tasting daily from 10:00 to 4:30. Tours are available by prior appointment at 10:30 and 2:30 from Monday through Friday and at 10:30 on Saturday.

Ferrari Carano is located at the northern end of Dry Creek Valley. Formal French/Italian gardens surround Villa Fiore, the winery's visitor center. When you arrive at the winery, you can stroll along the paths and bridges among the more than 2,000 species of plants in this very sculptured garden. The garden includes over 10,000 tulips and daffodils. If you phone (707) 433-5349 in the late winter/early spring, you can find out if the flowers are at their peak. Ferrari Carano is open daily from 10:00 to 5:00 for tasting. Tours are offered by prior appointment at 10:00 from Monday through Saturday. Appointments may also be made for private tastings for groups of six or fewer from Monday through Saturday.

Kendall Jackson's Wine Center is located in Fulton, between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. The tasting room is surrounded by culinary and sensory gardens. The sensory gardens are divided into sections containing flavors found in the various wines produced by Kendall Jackson. The Red Wine Sensory Garden has sections devoted to Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet, and other red varietals. The White Wine Sensory Garden includes sections featuring Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and other wines. The Culinary Gardens include a variety of vegetables and hers. Complimentary tours of the gardens are offered daily at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00, weather permitting. There's not much to see during the winter months, so try to visit between March and October. The tasting room is open daily from 10:00 to 5:00.

Other wineries have pretty gardens, but these three are at the top of my list. If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes visits to these wineries, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

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