Beautiful Sonoma County Wine Castles
Over the years, inspired wine-sipping daydreamers have made good on their passion to make Sonoma County wines that rival the classic wines of Europe. Home to more than 400 award-winning wineries, Sonoma County barrels a varietal for everyone. Down home hospitality resonates, from small family-run wineries to internationally heralded wine houses. And, European-style wine country idylls, grand chateaux, villas, and — to most eyes — castles indeed, that are a pleasure to see and visit. Discover Sonoma County's grandiose, garden-filled wine castles and chateaux.
Ledson Winery and Vineyards
Ledson gets top billing as Sonoma County's wine castle because of its perfect pairing of gothic spires and archways with the rugged, mountainous backdrop of this particularly scenic stretch of the Sonoma Valley. The style is French Normandy, and it was originally built as a family residence. So many would-be wine tasters drove up to check it out, however, that the owner took the hint and opened his winery's tasting room here.
Chateau St. Jean
Nestled among acres of vineyard, and beneath the dramatic volcanic cones of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in the Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean might easily be mistaken for a monastery in the French Alps. The buff-colored walls and red tile roof of Chateau St. Jean evoke the monastic tradition of winemaking. Built in the 1970s, the Chateau is named after a woman named Jean, so that's how 'St. Jean' is pronounced. Dwarf orange trees and roses grace the Mediterranean-style courtyard garden, a nice place to stroll or sit under shade at bistro tables.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
This Second French Empire-styled chateau is set among low, oak woodland hills in Alexander Valley. There's a bit of Denmark here, too, in that director Francis Ford Coppola's renovation of the former Chateau Souverain called for an amusement park theme that echoes Copenhagen's famed Tivoli Gardens. Under its mansard roof and towers, modified with glass pyramid peaks by Coppola, the winery houses the director's movie memorabilia like movie mobster Vito Corleone's desk, Apocalypse Now 'heads,' and the fully-rigged model warship from Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery
Wine castle Italian-style, Ferrari-Carano's 'Villa Fiore' sits amid the winery's Dry Creek Valley home vineyard. Tea gardens invite strolling on the grounds, while downstairs, the Villa's atmospherically-illuminated barrel room is one of the area's most evocative of the old cellars of Europe. The best wine tasting is in the adjacent Enoteca wine-tasting bar in a dramatic underground cellar.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Dressed in lush, green ivy and fringed with perfectly trimmed privets, Jordan very much appears like the Bordeaux chateau that Tom Jordan aimed to purchase before settling in the Alexander Valley. It was a good move: Jordan's Cabernet Sauvignon often ranks among American restaurateurs' favorite brands. Take in the view from the upstairs library, then enter a dimly-lit parlor for a tasting seminar with wine paired with gourmet bites from the chef.