During your travels to the Sonoma wine country how would you like to visit a bucolic, family-owned winery with views of beautiful Sonoma Valley and rows of estate vineyards climbing up the golden slopes of the adjoining hills? How about a visit to a recently-constructed, state-of-the-art winery where the winemaker’s award-winning wines are crafted right on site, and where guests on our Platypus Tours are allowed to take a behind-the-scenes peak into the world of wine production to observe just how wine is made? Maybe also visit a winery that still to this day does not sell its wine in stores and is celebrating 40 years of grape growing and winemaking in the Sonoma Valley? Then Roche Winery & Vineyards (Sonoma, CA) is a “must stop” during your travels to this world-class wine region and Sonoma wine country.
Simply one of our Platypus guides favorite wineries to visit when touring and introducing the Sonoma wine country to our guests, the staff at Roche Winery & Vineyards are eager to share the Roche family’s wines and their “Irish Hospitality” with you while showcasing the winery’s gorgeous grounds and modern winemaking facility.
When visitors first arrive at the Roche family’s winery, they will notice right away the expansive beautifully landscaped outdoor patio and tasting pavilion which greets them. Roche staff often serve guests from their custom-designed covered outdoor bar (known as their “Outdoor Tasting Pavilion”) and then invite them to sip their wine while settling in on comfortable Adirondack chairs, at patio-style tables or even handcrafted wood farm tables that can accommodate groups of up to twelve guests. On the raised patio space, a 100+ foot-long glass paneled living wall was engineered and angled to protect visitors from seasonal breezes while allowing guests to take in the expansive views of Sonoma Valley. Two outdoor fireplaces, rolling grass lawns and a babbling brook feature were installed to finish out this inviting outdoor space.
If you wish to taste indoors at the winery, staff will host you at a long, modern black bar in their indoor-outdoor tasting room. Year round expect the staff to push open the 8 foot tall accordion glass walls separating the indoor bar from the outdoor patio to welcome guests. From this indoor tasting space, visitors have direct access to the Barrel Room where daily barrel tasting is offered. Two, separate VIP hospitality venues are also available by reservation which offer 180 degree views of the family’s vineyards and winery grounds.
However, much of the winery’s 17,000 square facility is actually dedicated to the production-side of the business as Roche continues to be an active winemaking facility. The winemakers press the family’s grapes and bottle their wines right on their crushpad, an expansive space surrounded by both the dedicated Tank Building and Barrel Room. When not interfering with the winemaking team’s activities, Platypus guests often will be hosted for a brief tour of how the Roche family’s wines are made and aged. Visitors are guided past the twenty-six stainless steel tanks and countless rows of stacked American and French Oak barrels housed in the Barrel Room, allowing guests to answer questions during the tour.
If visiting downtown Sonoma, the Roche family’s second tasting room location is the ideal place to stop. It is one of the most popular tasting spaces for locals and visitors to the area alike to sip wines both indoors and outdoors downtown and it is located just steps to boutique shops, restaurants, as well as to Sonoma’s downtown gem, the Plaza Park with shaded walking paths, benches and picnic tables, and even a duck pond and swings to keep couples entertained. Housed in a charming historic craftsman home, this Roche tasting room offers both indoor and outbar bars, a firepit, and lots of cozy spaces for guests to sit. The space even includes a custom-built wood bar surrounded by stools constructed at the base of an 80-foot tall Cypress tree called the “Cypress Bar” of course!
The very limited production wines offered at Roche are…well, just delicious, and this can be explained due to the family’s long history of farming the Sonoma Valley and the extensive experience of their winemaker who it turns out has been with the winery for three decades. In 1982, the winery’s founders, Dr. Joseph and Dr. Genevieve Roche planted their first grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and were pioneers of sorts helping to establish the now world-renowned Los Carneros AVA. Currently the winery and vineyard operations are overseen by Brendan Roche and the second generation of the Roche family. The Winemaker, Michael Carr, has received more than fifty Double Gold and Gold medals in just the last decade alone and also recently received the honor of being awarded the “Best of the Best” and Best Wine in the Competition among those produced in Napa, Sonoma, and four other neighboring wine growing regions in the prestigious North Coast Wine Challenge.
A nice assortment of wines are offered at Roche so certainly one bottle is sure to attract the palette of everyone in your group. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah are always available to taste. However, within the last few years you will find also that Zinfandel, dry rosé, dessert wine and even a sparkling wine might appear on their menu. Just be sure to purchase your wine while visiting because Roche does not sell their wines in stores and the family’s wines continue to be offered for purchase exclusively at their two tasting room locations, through the winery’s wine club, or at a select number of local restaurants.