Ever wanted to spend the perfect day in California Wine Country? Living an hour outside of Sonoma definitely has its perks, and I’m here to spill on all things wine country!
First off, there are 3 main parts of wine country: Sonoma, Napa, and Healdsburg. It seems that out-of-towners have only ever heard of Napa, and everyone from the Bay has their favorite. I happen to love Sonoma- down-to-Earth wineries, beautiful rolling hills, and the best restaurants, in my humble opinion.
The perfect day means planning ahead. It’s easy to assume that the wineries are all lumped together, but this is not true, and you will be very sad if you plan to visit several wineries that are all 20+ minutes away from each other. Several also require reservations to enjoy anything more than a tasting. But don’t worry, I’ve created a plan just for you!
Where to Stay:
Staying in Wine Country is not cheap- so plan ahead! I love to travel by Airbnb, and if you are planning far enough in advance, you can find some cute places on the app. This is going to be your most affordable option. Check out places in Kenwood, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, or Rohnert Park. These are all close enough, but won’t hurt your wallet as much as staying in or near Sonoma Square. If you’re set on staying in a hotel, then check out the Hilton DoubleTree in Rohnert Park, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, or the MacArthur Place Hotel in Sonoma. If you aren’t as OCD as myself, HotelTonight often has great last-minute rates on hotels, and you can book up to 100 nights before your trip!
Where to Eat:
Lunch is obviously going to be one of the most important parts of your day, so make it count! Sonoma Square has some darling restaurants serving up delicious farm-to-table grub. My trip to Sonoma is never complete without lunch at The Girl and the Fig. You cannot go wrong here, and they offer seating in their back patio. Don’t leave without trying a squirt of the FIGbody lotion (they sell it here and it’s so yum!). Another option in Sonoma square is LaSalette, a hip spot selling upscale Portuguese delights. Or, you could check out my favorite market in the square, The Sonoma Cheese Market, to grab some picnic options and head to a winery for a lunchtime picnic.
Where to Drink:
Let’s go over some of the wineries that I LOVE and then we can put together your perfect day.
Top of my list, every day all day, is Scribe Winery. Scribe is my happy place. Scribe can be difficult to visit if you don’t have a reservation (or are a wine club member). This is where you really need to plan ahead. You can either do a tasting at the Hacienda, or you can do a food and wine pairing ($60 pp). The food and wine pairing will be absolutely delicious, but don’t expect it to fill you up. Call the super friendly staff at Scribe to plan your visit (ressies required!). Start your day here, and then head to Sonoma Square (closeby!) for lunch.
Take a drive up to Valley of the Moon at Madrone Estate. This is also a great option for lunch if you plan ahead. Lunch is offered Thursday through Sunday, and you can choose between the 3 or 4 course food and wine pairing (ressies required). Looking for something lighter? Sit outside with a cheese plate or chocolate sampler and taste away! Reservations for tastings are not required.
Keep making your way up Sonoma Highway until you hit Kenwood, where you will find one of my favorite wineries, Kunde. Family-owned, you’ll still experience the small-winery feel, even though Kunde owns the largest vineyard in Sonoma. No reservation? No worries, they have casual tastings every day at the main bar or outside. Fancy another amazing plate of cheese to go with your wine? Enjoy a seated tasting if room allows, or plan ahead for this. Kunde is dog-friendly and even offers estate hikes with your best furry friend!
I am lucky enough to be a wine club member at Kunde, and we visit 4+ times per year to grab our bottles and enjoy free tastings. We recently went to Kunde’s holiday party in the wine caves- what an experience! Hint ** you can also tour the wine caves if you make a reservation prior to your visit **
If you still have energy (and aren’t too tipsy), head to Chatueau St. Jean, also along the Sonoma Highway. This gorgeous winery gives you a taste of France with gardens full of roses and garden tastings next to the chateau. Explore the grounds, buy a bottle and have a picnic, or do a tasting at the main bar. Enjoy this beautiful spot before heading back to take a long, wine-drunk nap.
Tip: Don’t drink and drive! Plan ahead to ensure you have a solid DD, or rent a driver for a day. Chariot offers charters to make sure you have a ton of fun and are safe. Enjoy Sonoma!