St Francis Winery & Vineyards
Courtesy of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
This Certified Sustainable, family-owned winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In addition to a special Anniversary tasting flight, as well as exclusive releases and rare, collectors bottles on offer in celebration of this big milestone, St. Francis has one of the most comprehensive selections of wine tasting experiences in Sonoma County. Sample wine and food pairings curated by Executive Chef Peter Janiak, Estate Pairings on the Vineyard Portico, or a simple Tasting Flight while taking in the stunning vista of the Sonoma Valley.
Insider Tip: Care to work up a bit of a sweat while you taste? Try the Tour de St. Francis. Learn about the winerys history, viticulture, and winemaking while sipping and propelling the sustainable, pedal-powered tasting trolley forward with your fellow passengers.
100 Pythian Road at Highway 12, Santa Rosa, CA 95409, 675-9463
St Helena And Rutherford
St Helena is right in the heart of the Napa Valley, home to some of its most celebrated wineries: Beringer Vineyards, with its gothic Rhine House, is here, as is Charles Krug, and the wildly popular V. Sattui Winery. It also boasts a burgeoning culinary scene and a thriving boutique shopping scene, dubbed Napa Valleys Main Street. The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone lies just beyond the center , and theres also the small Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, dedicated to the famous writer who briefly lived here in the 1880s. The tiny village of Rutherford, just to the south, is best known for its famous Rutherford Dust Cabernet wineries and the Rutherford Grill, as well as historic wineries such as Inglenook and Robert Mondavi Winery.
Discover Sonomas Hipster Wineries
Sonoma has a plethora of wineries that can be described as hipster, ticking the boxes of mindful, organic farming tiny production, artistan wines and modern-rustic design.
For us, one of the best Sonoma wineries to visit is Medlock Ames, an eco-friendly winery in the Alexander Valley, started by two friends in 98. The stylish tasting room has beautiful edible gardens and they host fun events, such as live bluegrass music. Other hipster options include: Scribe Winery Kivelstadt and Red Car Winery.
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El Dorado Hotel And Kitchen
El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen on the Sonoma Square offers a central location for exploring Sonoma Valley. The hotel has a solar heated swimming pool with plush cabanas, open from May to October. The 27 stylish guest rooms feature complimentary WiFi, iHOME iPod clocks, reusable water bottles and Certified Organic personal care products from EO. El Dorado Kitchen serves fantastic seasonal dishes with ingredients from local Sonoma farms. The outdoor courtyard lets you enjoy the surrounding beauty of Californias Wine Country, while indoors you can admire all the work that goes on in the open kitchen. Rooms start at $205 per night.
405 First Street West, Sonoma, California 95476, Phone: 707·996·3030
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Snap Photos Of Locations From Hitchcocks The Birds In Bodega
Just a few miles inland from Bodega Bay is the tiny hamlet of Bodega, home of the schoolhouse that served as the filming location for The Birds, Alfred Hitchcocks 1963 thriller.
Originally called the Potter Schoolhouse, the house was built in 1973. Today it is a private residence, so if you visit to snap photos, be respectful. Nearby is the picturesque St. Teresa of Avila Church, which also featured in the movie.
The schoolhouse, on a foggy day
In Bodega Bay, the Tides Wharf Restaurant also served as a location for The Birds: the restaurant scenes and the boat dock scenes were filmed here. Its a great place to dine, and birdwatching is popular at both Bodega and Bodega Bay, although you likely wont witness any avian attacks.
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Best Segway Tour: Sonoma County Wine Segway Tour
You might think that Segway tours are just for cities, but these little two-wheeled vehicles are a lovely way to see some of Sonomas gorgeous countryside, as well. Start your day with a quick Segway lesson from your tour guide and then zoom off to the first of two separate winery visits, plus a tour and tasting at a local artisanal cheese factory. A picnic lunch with a spread of locally-sourced goodies is included. And yes, the Segways have some storage space enough for two to three wine bottles, should you want to do a bit of buying!
I Want To Go To California Wine Country But I Keep Reading Sonoma Is Better Than Napa Or Napa Is Better Than Sonoma And Then I Hear About Other Areas Like Healdsburg And Calistoga Where The Heck Should I Go
I dont discriminate when it comes to wine countries. Every wine country in California, and around the world, offers a different type of experience for every type of wine drinker and wine tourist, and, depending on my mood or the type of trip Im going for, Ill go to a different region of wine country! Sometimes, Im in the mood for the casual no-frills tasting experience of a region like Paso Robles, California, or an all-frills, over-the-top glam experience in Napa Valley, or a group fun experience in the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara, or the farm-to-table freshness of tasting wine and pairing it with appetizers in Sonoma County. Theres something for every one, and every type of trip in California, which is why I wanted to break down one of the biggest questions I get all the time..
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How To Visit Sonoma On A Budget
A visit to the wine counties of California is often a place to visit and splurge a little bit. Wine tasting by nature is a higher-end affair. Its easy to get caught up in the moment and a few too many samples and blow your budget, but it doesnt have to. Visiting Sonoma on a budget is possible and still very enjoyable. Here is how we visited Sonoma on a budget.
Wearing Heels Is A No
Learn from my mistakes my friends! It sounds romantic to frolic around wine country in a sundress, heels and hat but in reality, youll be spending a lot of time on your feet while wine tasting.
And let me tell you, by winery #2 on a warm day in heels when your tour takes you on a stroll through the vineyards or gathers you around standing next to a barrel for a special tasting, youll be wishing you had on flats or reallllly comfy baby heels. Ive made this mistake so many times before I learned.
Also, winter is cold. Everyone thinks California is sunny and warm all the time, but NOPE! If you are wine tasting in the winter, youll want to wear a sweater and maybe even a coat.
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Gotts Roadside Napa Valley California
Whether you are a local or international tourist driving through Napa Valley, Gotts Roadside is the ideal place to relax for a snack, lunch, or even a chilling drink on a hot day. This burger joint has a way of giving hotdogs, onion rings, hand-spun shakes, and even cheese burgers that extra-special subtle taste that will leave you craving more.
Chinese chicken salads and crispy Ahi Poke Tacos are made using local ingredients, while California centric wines, such as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Anchor from San Francisco, add to the local American flavor.
933 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574
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Zo Wines Estate Healdsburg
Stay overnight surrounded by vineyards in one of four lodging options. Rooms 1 and 2 are first-floor bedrooms that share a bathroom room 3 is on the second floor, with a queen bed and private bath with a spa tub and shower overhead and room 4 is upstairs, with a king-size bed and private bath. The home’s shared spaces include the grounds, living area, and kitchen. All rooms include a free Farmstay Wine Experience & Wine Sensory Workshop.
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Go Wine Tasting On Foot
Driving around wineries can pose a conundrum as you want to try all the wine, but cant drink and drive. One good solution is to head to Healdsburg where they have at least 25 different tasting rooms to choose from, showcasing some of the countys best wines.
Options to choose from include: Banshee Wines Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery and La Crema Tasting Room. Its the ideal way to do your own Sonoma Valley wine tour.
And Most Importantly Have Fun
Once you have everything planned out, just relax and enjoy the educational experience that is Sonoma. On your Sonoma wine tasting weekend youll be in idyllic settings sipping world-class wines with the people you love most. This is life at its finest!
If youre feeling intimidated, take a deep breath. Wine tastings arent only for experienced connessoiurs. Many people who plan a Sonoma wine tasting weekend are still wondering how does a wine tasting work? And if thats you, we have an entire post on how to taste wine with your name on it!
Sonoma wineries are thrilled to welcome visitors who are just starting their wine discovery journey and are happy to teach you all about their wines and winemaking practices. Feel free to ask your host as many wine tasting questions as you want!
But before you decide on any wineries, its time to ask yourself some questions to narrow down the best wine tasting rooms for your Sonoma wine tasting weekend.
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Do You Want A Party Atmosphere Or An Intimate One
Ambience is important when choosing your wine tasting rooms. As you plan your Sonoma wine tasting weekend, ponder what type of atmosphere you want your tastings to take place in.
Would you prefer a large commercial tasting area where you can enjoy shuffleboard and bocce ball? A rock and roll lounge with a fun party atmosphere? A quiet table for two overlooking lavender fields? A private, custom experience in the vintners own home?
If youre looking to connect with loved ones, perhaps you want more intimate shared experiences. If youre just looking for a good time with friends or colleagues, you might prefer the freedom of a commercial tasting space. Its all down to you and your group and dont be afraid to switch up the vibe a few times in your wine tasting route!
Where To Eat And Drink In Santa Rosa
If you prefer heading into town, check out The County Bench Kitchen + Bar which only opened in 2016 but has already received a lot of praise, including a mention in Forbes 5 New Wine Country Restaurants You Need To Know About, and which upgrades Downtown Santa Rosas dining scene to another level, with hand-crafted cocktails and a chic bistro atmosphere. Not really a surprise, considering the restaurant is the brainchild of two Michelin-star chefs: Michelin-starred chef Bruce Frieseke and Ben Davies .
The menu, focusing on American cuisine, includes innovative dishes such as a Farro Risotto, Red Wine Braised Short Rib and $1.50 Happy Hour Oysters. Speaking of Happy Hour the high-quality $5 cocktails and happy hour snacks are hard to beat, so if you prefer a light dinner made up of a range of small dishes to share, served with inexpensive cocktails and wines, the County Bench & Kitchen is perfect for you. If I lived in Santa Rosa, the County Bench would be my regular hangout spot for sure.
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Larson Family Winery Sonoma
A Captain’s House is a historic Civil War-era farmhouse amid 70 acres of vineyards at the Larson Family Winery in the southern Sonoma Valley.
It features four bedrooms, two full baths, a fully-appointed gourmet kitchen, a fireplace, a backyard barbecue, and a flat screen TV, as well as telephone and Internet access.
Best Value Tour: Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley
Take a ride around picturesque Sonoma in this wheeled trolley, built to resemble San Franciscos famous open-air cable cars, for a lovely scenic day-long tour. Enjoy guided narration from an expert local guide as you take in the scenery and stop and enjoy tours and tastings at four different family-owned wineries . A delicious lunch is provided by local bistro The Girl and The Fig and served family picnic-style. The tour begins and ends at Sonoma Plaza in downtown Sonoma.
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Tour Other Sonoma State Historic Park Sites
Along the north side of Sonoma Plaza, you can tour four other Sonoma State Historic Park sites: the Blue Wing Inn, the Toscano Hotel & Kitchen, the Sonoma Barracks, and the Servants Quarters. The park sites are discrete, but collectively offer a great look back into Sonomas history.
Interpretive sign at Sonoma State Historic Park
The Blue Wing Inn is a long adobe building that dates from the Gold Rush era. The Toscano Hotel building dates from the mid 19th century, but it became a hotel in 1886. The family-owned operation ran all the way until 1955.
The two-story Servants Quarters adobe is part of La Casa Grande, General Vallejos first home in Sonoma. The family moved to a new estate in the early 1850s. The main home was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1867.
The Sonoma Barracks houses historical exhibits in several museum rooms. Here you will also find the park bookstore and gift shop. The buildings make for a nice wander, with several interpretive plaques offering information.
View historical exhibits at the Sonoma Barracks
Park sites are generally open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. everyday, other than major holidays. An admission fee of $3.00 per person covers all Sonoma State Historic Park sites for the day.
Do You Want To Speak Directly With The Winemakers
Are you content learning about the wines from a waiter or staff member? Or do you want to hear from the people who make the wine themselves? If you dont have many questions to ask, and just want to enjoy sipping good wine with friends or family, then maybe it wont matter to you.
But for some, a wine tasting is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into how that Sonoma winemaking magic works!
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How To Have A Perfect Girls Getaway In Sonoma Wine Country
Ive already told you that Sonoma Wine Country is one of my favorite places for a girls getaway in California, offering all those things that you need to make a weekend with your favorite girls a huge success: wine, good food, plenty of fun activities. Throw some shopping and some relaxing spa time in the mix and everyone will be happy.
To give you a better idea of what a perfect girls getaway to Sonoma Wine Country could look like, I put together an itinerary for a weekend in Sonoma County, including where to stay, what to do, and practical information, such as: How would you even get there?
Napa Valley: Where To Stay Now
The most exciting feature of Solages recently completed $30 million dollar renovation is Picobar, a chill, open-air pool bar that gives off some serious resort-in-Mexico vibes. While looking out at Solages picture-perfect 130-foot pool , you can sip tequila and mezcal-based cocktails along with whipped avocado dip, queso made from Cowgirl Creamery cheese, and several iterations of tacos that chef Gustavo Rios lovingly refers to as head tilts. Theres even a crispy avocado version for vegetarians.
All the resorts rooms have been updated and there are some new cottage-style suites, too. Theyre light-filled, airy, luxurious, and cozy. Guests of the Estate Suites get one day of complimentary cabana access, a set of bikes for cruising around Calistoga, and a Mercedes-Benz to use throughout their stay. Lastly, Solages signature restaurant Solbar has a swankier and larger outdoor lounge, making the choice between Solbar and Picobar a most difficult one . // 755 Silverado Trail. N. , aubergeresorts.com
Calistoga Motor Lodge
The theme carries on through beautiful, wood-beamed ceilings and tiled floors, and the original cocktails, with names like Liviero and Pesca Perfecto, will whisk you away to the Amalfi Coast.
Milliken Creek Inn
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Choose A Hub To Explore From
Even if you are blessed with a long weekend, a few days is not much time to take in Sonoma wine country. To make the most of your time, we suggest picking one town as your home base for your Sonoma wine tasting weekend.
You can start looking for hotels or restaurants you love, and base your Sonoma wine tastings around that. Or, if there is a particular type of wine youre after, you can situate yourself accordingly.
For example, if youre looking for the best Pinot Noir wine, youll want to be near Russian River Valley and its revered Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. If you prefer a good glass of Zinfandel, youll want to stay near Dry Creek, or near Alexander Valley if a bold Cabernet Sauvignon is what youre after.
For first time visitors we often recommend the quaint town of Healdsburg. Situated smack in the middle of Sonoma County, Healdsburg gives you easy access to Sonomas most celebrated vineyards.
Healdsburg has an adorable central plaza filled with shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms. It offers a range of fabulous accommodations from swanky, modern Harmon Guest House in Healdsburgs heart, to cozy Victorian Raford Inn 15 minutes outside of town, down winding country roads.