The gripe on winetasting rooms these days is that they are serving more as wine bars or entertainment destinations than winetasting rooms.
“Yes, please,” say thirsty weekenders and weary Thursday afternoon commuters. They’d like a glass of wine, pronto, and preferably with a view, without the hassle of having to order a meal, the atmosphere of a “bar” or waiting interminable minutes for their next one-ounce smidgeon of Sauvignon Blanc while the host works out shipping details for a couple from Ohio. The problem with both perspectives is: wine by the glass is as rare as white Pinot Noir.
Both can be found, of course—you just have to know where to look. Thanks to the so-called picnic bill of 2008, wineries can offer wine by the glass as well as tastings. The catch is that wineries only have the ability to modify their use permit—which many treat as one might a sleeping dog.
Meanwhile, if you’re just hankering for the good dead grape and a fine view, here’s an incomplete list of by-the-glass hot spots:
URBAN VIEW BY THE GLASS
Breathless Wines It’s hard to pour just a little Champagne at this stylish industrial tasting room.
499 Moore Lane, Healdsburg.
Pangloss Picture windows provide a wide view of Sonoma Plaza at this optimistic wine lounge. 35 E. Napa St., Sonoma.
Wind Gap Much like a brewery taproom, this lively Barlow hangout offers wine by the growler to go. 6780 McKinley St., Sebastopol.
Orpheus Wines Boutique outfit in Kenwood Village also offer growlers on the first and third “sustainable Sunday.” 8910 Hwy. 12, Kenwood.
Charles Krug Grandaddy of Napa wineries pours Cab, Sauv Blanc in historic stone cellar.
2800 Main St., St. Helena.
COUNTRY VIEW BY THE GLASS
Gloria Ferrer Expansive views of the Carneros from whence the sparkling wine comes. 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.
Horse & Plow Organic heirloom apple cider joins organic rosé and reds on a patio with a garden view. 1272 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol.
Fog Crest Vineyard No sunset, but patio views facing east to Sonoma Mountain will do for sipping Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 7606 Occidental Road, Sebastopol.
Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Valley graybeard with an active, young following set up an outdoor “donkey bar” to irrigate weekend crowds. Views of Sonoma Valley. 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma.
Trione Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley Cabernet and Zinfandel, bocce courts. 19550 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville.
Medlock Ames The lingering heat of a summer day feels a little bit sweeter on the deck at this Alexander Valley tasting room, overlooking gardens and an olive grove. After five, the bar opens next door. 6487 Hwy. 128, Healdsburg.
Cliff Lede Vineyards A taste of Anderson Valley in the heart of Napa Valley, Cliff Lede’s FEL Pinot Garden is watered with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, shaded with umbrellas and furnished with Adirondack chairs. 1473 Yountville Cross Road, Yountville.