There's just nothing wrong with starting your Sonoma adventure with a little bubbly from Iron Horse. I love the funky, outdoor tasting bar as much as I love the view and the fact that this is an independent, family-owned winery.
Did I mention that from June through October you can get fresh-shucked oysters to go with your sparkling wine?
Marimar Estates had me at their Mediterranean architecture, the perfect setting for their Spanish wines, and a patio with its bright flowers and surrounding lush greenery. Of course, they also had me at their sustainability practices that include creating habitats for beneficial insects that are natural predators of harmful pests, boxes for owls to nest the gopher population in the vineyards in check, and beehives to aid in the growth of beneficial plants. Wait, no. They had me at the three huge (I mean really huge) statutes of springer spaniels at the front entrance.
To be perfectly honest, I had such a good time tasting wine and picnicking on the charcuterie my friends and I brought with us that I neglected to take many pictures. I guess you'll have to check it out for yourself.
Want more of a local sense of Sonoma? Join the Leland Street Country Club (http://www.lelandstreetcountryclub.com/), which is really just a small local farm, for $35. Then you can participate in the outdoor dinners they throw four or so times a year.