Sonoma Valley is inarguably one of the places most synonymous with the word “wine.”
With grapes planted as early as 1812, Sonoma Valley is positively steeped in the history of wine – with wineries predating the American Prohibition that still exist today. The geology is rich in shale, sandstone, and conglomerate deposits, and over 72% of the agriculture is dedicated to growing wine grapes. (That roughly adds up to over 60k acres of land!)
So, it’s definitely safe to say that Sonoma just might be as close to wine heaven as you are going to get.
However, if you’ve never visited Sonoma before, the sheer beauty, size, and astonishing number of wineries can be pretty overwhelming for a first-timer. And we mean it–Sonoma is big! Most visitors tend t section the valley off and tend to spend an entire day in one area, and it can be a lot of driving if you don’t plan.
But never fear! We are here to help.
We gathered together our favorite group of wine experts and polled their favorite wineries, and we’re going to review and share some of them with you!
This week, let’s talk about….
The Mayo Family Winery
The Mayo family opened the doors to their winery officially in 1993 and have remained family owned since. This beautifully cultivated winery was founded by lifelong Sonoma resident, Diane and her real estate savvy husband, Henry Mayo, who used his insider’s knowledge to knab the beautiful piece of farmland. Diane and Henry raised their children alongside their business on the farm. Their children would eventually become a part of the business too!
Completely self-taught farmers and winemakers, the Mayos started out by initially planting 3,000 Chardonnay grapevines–which went on to produce and sell over 200 cases of crisp white wine. The next year, they produced over 1,200 cases!!
And that, as they say, was that. They were officially winemakers!
Located snugly off of Highway 12 on Arnold Drive, you’ll find the cozy winemaking facility and tasting room. The tasting room is decked out in what’s described as a “koselig” Scandinavian atmosphere.
The Mayo family produces over 25 wines per year from more than 15 varying varietals and prefers to square their focus on single-vineyard wines. Their selection tends to only sold be online via their website or in their tasting room–specializing in some of Sonoma and Napa’s most celebrated vineyards. Additionally, they also stock staple varietals such as Zinfandel and Chardonnay, and produce a few wines like Carignane and Petite Sirah that are more obscure to purchase.
Their son Jeffery, since getting involved in the winery has become President of the business. “The secret to our success is in producing small-lot, single-vineyard wines with flavor, texture and aromas native to the vineyards’ terroir,” Jeffrey said.
So, let’s lay it all out–what are the major benefits to this winery? What does it offer that makes it so worth the trip?
Let’s chat about:
Tasting Options and Rooms
A “Premium Tasting” that includes six conventional/classic is available in the Tasting Room for $10.
The more daring in taste buds and heart might be more interested in the “Adventure Tasting” which is a great example of how the Mayo family is constantly seeking vineyards that offer the perfect blend of “terroir and varietal” for a total of $15.
And the Tastings are nothing to turn your nose up at – with delicate food pairing created and taught by the winery’s chef (Chef Samuel Frumkin) personally – the Mayo’s never skip over the small, important details! (And don’t fret over the menu going stale – the chef updates it with fresh pairings and meals every two months).
“Not only were the flavors Sam was able to create in… dishes unlike anything I had ever had, the presentation, correlating stories and feel of genuine hospitality in his interview are what drove me to offer him the job,” said Jeffrey Mayo.
For anyone curious as to the complete list of wine available is, enjoy the full list as follows bellow:
- White Wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Sparkling Brut and other selections.
- Red Wines: Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Malbec, Meritage, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Italian, Red Blends, Rhone Style Wines and other selections.
- Dessert Wine: Zinfandel Port.
So, I’m sure a few of you are clicking your tongue, thinking “that’s all well and good, but where’s the proof?” You’re not willing to commit to the trip unless you have some hard evidence that these winemakers are just as good as we say they are.
And I hear you! So, let’s cover…
Awards and Recognition
Since taking off on their farming and winemaking dreams, the Mayo Family Winery has won multiple awards and honors.
- Mayo’s won a gold medal for their 2009 2009 Sparkling Brut at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair held in 2015.
- They continued on to win gold medals for 3 of their Zinfandels:
the 2013 Zinfandel Reserve, Ricci Vineyard; the 2013 Zinfandel Reserve, Laurel Hill Vineyard; and the 2012 Zinfandel, Unti Vineyard.
- An additional 3 more gold medals were allotted for the 2013 Carignane, Stone Ranch Vineyard; the 2013 Merlot Reserve, Los Chamizal Vineyards; and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Los Chamizal Vineyards.
Other accolades come from the high praise of prominent critics and journalist reviews, such as the Wall Street Journal, which called the Mayo Family Winery, “The single best deal in wine country.”
Cool Perks: The Cellar Club
The winery offers the opportunity to join their exclusive group, the Cellar Club. Members are able to enjoy the benefits of basically becoming part of the Mayo family. Those who join are extended private event invitations and stellar wine shipments.
Cute bonuses are that the winery is dog friendly and includes a scenic picnic area!
With all that this charming and cozy spot has to offer up in calm and beautiful Sonoma, there isn’t a lot to lose! If you’re looking to put a pin in your next road trip map or spend a weekend in wine-sipping luxury, this should definitely be your first stop.
And whatever you do, do not pass up trying the food.