November 19, 2020
By Linda Murphy
Just in time for the holidays: your guide to the best wines and wineries in Sonoma County.
Our 2020 Top 100 Wines list points the way to the best bottles from throughout the county. The winners are a diverse group, covering various viticultural regions, grape varieties, and production quantities. Many picks are found in local grocery stores, others can be purchased only from wineries. Pinot Noir, arguably Sonoma’s most popular wine (in a supreme compliment, Napa Valley wineries seek out Sonomagrown Pinot), gets a lot of attention, and high-end Cabernet Sauvignon is coming on strong. The finest bottles are indeed expensive, although it’s more often a reflection of increasing costs in labor, health care, grape prices and packaging materials, than it is outright gouging (though some of that exists).
Healdsburg-based wine critic Linda Murphy selected the Top 100 Wines of 2020 based on her yearlong tastings at wineries and of samples sent to her, as well as her blind tastings at wine competitions including The Press Democrat 2020 North Coast Wine Challenge. Only wines produced from Sonoma County-grown grapes, by wineries located in the county, are eligible for the Top 100. All wines were tasted in 2020.
A former managing editor of Sonoma magazine, Murphy earned two James Beard awards as the founding editor of the San Francisco Chronicle wine section. She’s evaluated Sonoma wines for 30 years, and always has the consumer in mind with her recommendations. Not all expensive wines are worth their price, and many value-priced wines deliver far more interest than their price would suggest.
2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay
Dutton Ranch encompasses multiple vineyards, and winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen tapped three of them for this multi-layered wine. The honeyed nose leads to ripe golden apple, peach, and tropical fruit, and a Meyer lemon brightness balances the finish.
While the 2017 Dutton Ranch quickly sold out, the 2018 vintage is currently available here.