Tasting Room Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, groups of 6 or more require reservations.
Why go: Excellent Carneros AVA wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), cozy tasting room.
Schug Carneros Estate Winery is located in the western end of the Carneros AVA, an area that spans southern Sonoma and Napa Counties and is famous for growing world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The turn-off to Schug’s Bonneau Road location is at the busy intersection of Highway 121 and Highway 116, known as the “Big Bend,” about 10 minutes southwest of downtown Sonoma. If you’re driving west on Highway 121, continue straight through the intersection and you’ll come to the well-marked entrance in about a minute. Follow the entrance road up the hill and stop at the top for some excellent views of Carneros to the east and south and Sonoma Valley to the north.
The German design and decor of the facilities reflects the homeland of founder Walter Schug, who came to America in the 1960’s and worked for notable wine producers Gallo and Joseph Phelps before founding Schug Carneros Estate Winery.
Although there is ample parking, the tasting room itself is very small with space at the bar for only about a dozen visitors. My experience with smaller tasting rooms is that they are usually cozier, friendlier and generally a lot more fun. Schug fits that description.
On my last visit I tried a full range tasting flight that reflects the region. Very good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros along with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec from nearby Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Valley AVA’s. Schug also offers a nice 2013 Late Harvest Riesling (a varietal gaining in popularity in the U.S. recently) sourced from Lake County. My flight included Schug’s 2011 Rouge De Noirs, a light and refreshing sparkling Pinot Noir. My favorite at this tasting was the 2011 Pinot Noir Carneros Heritage Reserve ($40).
Most Schug wines are moderately priced at the tasting room ($20 to $35), though Heritage Reserve premium wines are priced slightly higher and are available in standard 750ml bottles and 1.5L Magnums.