Location: Sonoma County, CA, USA
Wine Country or Sonoma County is a short hour and a half drive from the great city of San Francisco. It is recommended that you rent a car in San Francisco or Oakland (we love renting from Dollar) and driving out to Sonoma for anyone who does not live within driving distance of the area. If you must fly, you can fly in to San Francisco International or Oakland International. We prefer to drive around the area while we are there since there are so many different areas to explore and everything is very spread out in the countryside. However, you must be careful not to drink and drive, so you either have to have a DD, try a wine tour, or see if the hotel you are staying at offers bicycles that you can use to ride from winery to winery. But be careful while drinking and riding a bike, too!
As said above, Sonoma County is very large and spread out with many different regions. There are seventeen different regions to explore in Sonoma County that stretch inland all the way to the Pacific Coast, they are: Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Carneros - Sonoma, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Fort Ross - Seaview, Fountaingrove District, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Knights Valley, Moon Mountain, Northern Sonoma, Pine Mountain - Cloverdale Peak, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley. Each region or appellation offering different varieties of wine.
BEST WINERIES FOR WINE TASTING
Clos du Bois - 19410 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville (Alexander Valley)
Clos du Bois is our absolute favorite winery. This is the winery that truly made us fall in love with Sonoma. They have a small and intimate tasting room with well-educated wine pourers who are incredibly genuine and love what they do. We recommend not passing up a chance to try their Cabernet Franc and purchase a bottle if available. Their premier wine tasting offers 6 wines for $15 per person. They do take reservations for tastings on their website.
Francis Ford Coppola - 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville (Alexander Valley)
The famous director of The Godfather owns two wineries in Northern California. One in Napa Valley, and the other in Geyserville (Sonoma County). The one located in Geyserville is the home to all of the movie paraphernalia and can't be missed if you're in the area! The property is gorgeous and hosts a large pool where guests can rent cabanas for the day to relax and enjoy their wine. The wine is of course wonderful and their first flight tasting runs at $25 per person for 4 limited production wines. They also offer a Sonoma inclusive tasting that runs at $18 per person and includes 4 of their wines and they offer a complimentary Rosso & Bianco Tasting every day that has 2 wines. If you wish to take advantage of the pool on the property, then you will be required to make a reservation on their website. It is recommended that you make these reservations as far in advance as possible as the days sell out very quickly.
Ledson Winery and Vineyards - 7335 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood (Sonoma Mountain)
We like to call this winery "The Castle." This gorgeous property is located on Sonoma Highway (Hwy 12) and is one of the first wineries you will come across on your way to downtown Sonoma from Santa Rosa via Hwy 12. The property is very impressive with its large estate right up against the mountain. Their wine tasting includes 5 exclusive estate wines for $20-$30 per person. There are multiple tasting rooms so they are never short on space to accommodate you.
Kunde Family Winery - 9825 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood (Sonoma Mountain)
This winery stands out thanks to their incredible property being right up against the mountain (similar to Ledson) but this winery offers tastings atop the mountain! At Kunde, you can opt for their mountain top tasting for $50 per person and enjoy some incredible views. If you don't feel like being so high up you can indulge in their estate wine in their main tasting room for $15 per person or on their patio with a cheese pairing for $30 per person.
WHERE TO EAT
Hank's Creekside - 2800 4th St, Santa Rosa
Situated right up against the Santa Rosa Creek in Santa Rosa, this quaint diner serves the best breakfast in town. We recommend the Eggs Benedict or the Cornbeef Hash with a cup of coffee.
Omelette Express - 112 4th St, Santa Rosa
Looking for a huge delicious breakfast to get you through the day? Then Omelette Express is the stop for you. These huge omelettes come with pretty much any ingredients you wish for and leaving you feeling happy and full, ready to take on the day of wine tasting.
Cafe Citti - 9049 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood
This delicious Italian restaurant is the perfect spot to hit for lunch while wine tasting along Sonoma Hwy. Grab a seat on their patio and enjoy the sunshine and views while having a pasta dish with their pesto sauce. It is the best around.
El Molino Central - 11 Central Ave, Sonoma
This is a must not miss spot while in Sonoma. This Mexican restaurant is located near downtown Sonoma and is a great pick for taking a break from all the shopping and wine tasting while in Sonoma. Their enchiladas are some of the best we've ever had!
Tex Wasabi's - 515 4th St, Santa Rosa
Have you ever tried BBQ Sushi? Well now's your chance! This fun take on sushi is great for dinner and located right in downtown Santa Rosa. Grab a bite to eat and continue your fun night out right in the heart of it all with more drinks in the Historic Railroad Square.
Shogun Japanese Restaurant - 1531 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa
Be prepared to have the best sushi of your life at Shogun! This friendly family owned restaurant is our absolute favorite in the area. Caleb has been going here since he was a kid and the quality is still there today. We recommend any sushi roll, a bento box, and the lemon chicken. You'll be leaving with a very happy stomach.
Chocolate Cow - 452 1st St. E, Sonoma
Ice cream, chocolates, sweets...they're got it all at the Chocolate cow. Our favorite stop in downtown Sonoma for a sweet treat. Their old fashioned ice cream is incredible and don't skip out on getting a few truffles to share in Sonoma Plaza just across the street.
Michelle Marie's Patisserie - 2404 Magowan Dr, Santa Rosa
The best bakery in town is by far Michelle Marie's. Located in Montgomery Village, you can grab some pastries and do some shopping. Don't miss the macarons or the eclairs, they are some of the best you will ever have.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel La Rose - 308 Wilson St, Santa Rosa
This historic hotel is located in downtown Santa Rosa, which is very convenient for getting to the best restaurants and wineries in the area. It is walking distance from many great spots in Santa Rosa and you can easily hop on the highway to get to all the other regions for wine tasting in Sonoma County. The hotel is split into two parts, the main building and the carriage house. The carriage house has a relaxing courtyard and all the rooms have balconies/patios, making them all dog friendly. The rooms are all decently sized and offer WIFI and cable TV. The hotel also serves a continental breakfast daily.
THINGS TO DO (BESIDES WINE TASTING)
Hike in Armstrong Woods - 17000 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville
Armstrong Woods is one of the best places to see the redwood trees up close. The woods have many trails for hikers to enjoy the impressive nature of the area. Make sure you wear proper clothing and shoes for hiking and drink plenty of water. Entrance to the woods is free.
Shop in Historic Railroad Square/Montgomery Village
Both areas are located in Santa Rosa. Railroad Square offers many independently owned shops and boutiques to find one of a kind treasures. You'll find some favorite well known shops in Montgomery Village that should never be missed.
Visit Bodega Bay
Take a drive out to the coast and visit the town of Bodega. It is a cute and quiet fishing village that has a beautiful view of the ocean and cliffs at the beach. You can climb the cliffs and enjoy the whales migrating or you can head inland and see where Alfred Hitchcock filmed his famous movie, The Birds.
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