A sensational winery, with sweeping vistas in so many directions, Gustafson Family Vineyards is a favorite for those who enjoy taking the time to visit a “destination” winery. The excursion up the Dry Creek Valley mountainside takes you on an exploratory adventure; and, it’s one that you won’t soon forget.

Imagine being 1,800 above sea level, with a vineyard in the foreground, and sweeping images of a lake below. (In this case, it’s Lake Sonoma.) And, now picture hawks effortlessly gliding the air currents, all above the morning fog line. You set down your table cloth and picnic lunch and listen to bird songs and air currents, with the occasional sound of a boat traveling across the water, 1,800 feet below on Lake Sonoma. This image is what you’ll enjoy at the Gustafson family winery’s, dining alfresco site.

Now, paint yourself into this image with your wine country picnic lunch or late afternoon appetizers… All far from the madding crowd and among friendly faces, whether from Dan Gustafson’s ebullient staff or fellow wine enthusiasts; this is what you’ll find at Gustafson Family Vineyards.

The estate winery was originally an old sheep ranch, which has rich, red volcanic soil. These red soils are as good as gold for wine grape growers, because iron oxide – which makes the soil red – produces superb wine grapes. Vineyard plantings are now complete at 20 acres.

White varieties include Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling; while red varieties include Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot.

In 2006, when the adjacent property was purchased, the winery property was expanded to 247 acres. Dan Gustafson has said that, “The balance of the land will remain as an ecological preserve.”

[Left to right: Dan Gustafson, and winemaker Emmett Reed]

When the vineyard was created, painstaking care was taken to preserve old groves of madrone, oak, and redwood trees. This includes the “Sonoma County Heritage Tree,” which is a 300-year-old madrone. The trunk’s diameter is eleven feet, and thought to be the largest madrone in Sonoma County.  When visiting, you’ll notice a historical plaque on the tree, stating its significance. Dan realized early on that he’s now the steward of this land, with the tree being entrusted to his care. He takes great pleasure in showing visitors this Sonoma County treasure.

Dan is also a landscape architect. When his home and winery were created, Dan and his craftsman colleagues integrated their expertise to have this location merge with the countryside, not define it. This location is both a workplace and a retreat for Dan, the Gustafson family, and their friends. According to Dan, “The family intends to keep the vineyard property feeling like a private home. This is a place where we enjoy hosting visitors and wine lovers from all over the world, and welcome you to our sanctuary.”

Taste their wines, and purchase something to go with your picnic adventure. You won’t be disappointed, as all wines have been created with micro production methods. Cases are only in the low hundreds for each variety. Winemaker Emmett Reed is meticulous, producing fabulous, award winning wines. Gustafson Family winery is a rare and delightful treat, and it’s all there for your enjoyment.

This story was originally written for Custom Tour Concierge.


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