Wine may have put Sonoma County on the map, but local spirit makers are gaining a foothold in Wine Country. Over the past few years, they have impressed with carefully crafted artisan spirits, one-of-a-kind cocktails and even hand sanitizers during the pandemic.
But, despite their increasing popularity, Sonoma County’s dozen or so distilleries are still having to share the spotlight with more than 425 wineries. To encourage visitors and locals to explore the spirits scene, nine distilleries have joined forces to create the Sonoma County Distillery Pass.
“There is a quality and excellence in the spirits of Sonoma County that you don’t see most places,” said Lorraine Barber, co-owner of Barber Lee Spirits in Petaluma. “We’ve all worked with each other and learned from each other for years, so any collaboration just makes sense.”
The Sonoma County Distillery Pass comes in one-day, two-day and 90-day versions, with costs ranging from $39 to $99. After purchasing the pass online, a paperless pass is delivered via text and email and is ready to be used immediately. When arriving at a participating distillery, pass holders simply show the pass to redeem a tasting flight. At some of the participating distilleries, the pass unlocks additional discounts; at Spirit Works in Sebastopol, for example, pass holders also receive 15% off their bottle purchases.
As visitors return to Sonoma County, the distillery tasting pass still remains a bit of a secret, offering an opportunity to discover several distillery tasting rooms before the crowds do. It’s a chance to see a different Wine Country.
“The pass offers insight into Sonoma County’s robust craft distilling scene,” said Fred Groth, co-owner of Prohibition Spirits in Sonoma. “Including distilleries on a visit to Sonoma educates visitors on artisanal spirits and how we are all using local ingredients to create something exceptional.”
The Sonoma County Distillery Pass is valid at nine distilleries: Alley 6 Craft Distillery and Young & Yonder Spirits in Healdsburg; Sonoma Brothers Distillery in Windsor; Elk Fence Distillery in Santa Rosa; Barber Lee Spirits and Griffo Distillery & Tasting Bar in Petaluma; Prohibition Spirits Distillery and Hanson of Sonoma Distillery in Sonoma; and Spirit Works Distillery and Tasting Room in Sebastopol.
Tasting room hours vary from one location to the next; reservations are always a good idea, especially on weekends or if you are coming with a large group. Spirit tastings at Elk Fence Distillery and Sonoma Brothers Distilling are by appointment only.
For more information and to purchase a Sonoma County Distillery Pass, visit explore.sonomacounty.com (scroll down the page for distillery passes).