With such close proximity to San Francisco, the Sonoma Valley is one of the easiest getaway destinations for anyone staying in the city. Yet, there’s a sense of being a million miles away once your feet touch down in this epic wine region. Take the Pacific Coast Highway, north from the Golden Gate Bridge, and you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views as you drive over. With vistas that are jaw-dropping and over 13,000 acres of state and regional parks, this is the gateway to California’s most stunning outdoor world.
Step foot inside this country lifestyle destination, taste its exquisite grape, and you’ll never want to leave. In addition to the region’s award-winning wineries (many of which are family-run and date back generations), the food is also to die for. Famed as one of California’s top culinary gems, Sonoma offers a huge selection of gourmet dining experiences. With a number of Michelin-starred restaurants and countless fine dining spots that focus on perfect pairings, eating out is every bit the luxury.
All of life’s greatest indulgences can be sourced in this quaint corner of the globe. From golfing resorts and lavish spas to outdoor pursuits such as horseback riding or kayaking in the Russian River, guests can do just about anything they desire.
Spanning more than a million acres from the Pacific Ocean to the rugged Coast Range, this incredible region has so much to see and do. The town of Sonoma has a historic plaza, and is a great place for boutique shopping or experiencing the area’s café culture. With chic bakeries selling sticky buns and croissants to casual bistros, you’ll have so much choice when hunger strikes.
The city of Santa Rosa acts as the pulse point for the county and has plenty of shops, parks and amenities for visitors. And areas like Kenwood and Glen Ellen are renowned for their fine dining restaurants and wineries. If it’s the region’s gastronomy that piques your interest, we recommend visiting a local cheese farm where you can enjoy a tour with tasting at the end.
The Russian River and Lake Sonoma area is also another popular destination with holidaymakers in the summertime. Water-based activities such as kayaking and canoeing, paddle-boarding, sailing or jet-skiing are excellent when the sun is out. This particular area is also home to some of the region’s top wineries and vineyards. You’ll find a number of fantastic boutique producers here, with wines such as Burgundian-style Chardonnay or Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs.
Or to fully immerse yourself into California’s charming countryside, let us help you arrange a combined wine tour of Napa and Sonoma Valley. We will book you in for exclusive and private tours and tastings across both regions, complete with a 5-course lunch, cheese pairing, mud baths, hot springs, and much more.
It’s hard to sum up Sonoma Valley with the best times to go, as each season offers something different. The diverse geography of Sonoma County, ranging from valleys, plains and mountaintops to riverbeds and coast, means that there’s something unique to experience in any weather. The climate is heavily influenced by its close proximity to the Pacific and can tend to have cool nights and temperate days, with the hottest months being in the summer. While the state of California has a mostly Mediterranean climate, Sonoma experiences micro-climates that can sometimes be changeable.
If you want to enjoy the best weather when you’re here, plan your trip between June and October. Do bear mind though that this is also the busiest time of year, so hotels and B&Bs get booked up in advance.
Often compared to the Napa Valley, Sonoma wines are actually very different. Though both valleys share similarities, their styles differ in the fact that one is more laid-back than the other. While Napa wines are refined, Sonoma varieties have a more relaxed, country feel. Wine in Sonoma is usually more affordable too, although quality and taste can be just as great.
There are 450 wineries ranging from small establishments to big producers. And over 70,000 acres are covered in vineyards, with a total of 13 sub-AVAs. Some of the top wineries to include on your journey of discovery include Buena Vista, DeLoach and GC Lurton Vineyards.
The main Valley trail is known for its reds and sparkling wines, including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are also grapes grown near the Sonoma Mountain and Moon Mountain, and the nearby Bennett Valley thrives with grape varieties like Merlot and Syrah.
In towns like Sonoma and Santa Rosa, you will find a number of stylish 5-star hotels with fine dining restaurants and spa or pool access. When compared to the likes of Napa, this area can be considered a lot more rustic and laidback. So you will also be able to find a large number of B&B style lodgings and quaint farmhouses for rent. Whether you need accommodation for the whole family, or you’re looking for a romantic couple’s retreat, we can help you find the perfect place to stay.
We also recommend staying in nearby San Francisco if you would like to have a combined city and countryside tour. Or stay in the Napa Valley and enjoy wine-tasting experiences in both regions.
Dining out in the Sonoma Valley will give you a glimpse of the region’s two very different food personalities. While low-key diners, coffee shops, bakeries and street food offer quick and tasty relief, there’s also a much more sophisticated way of enjoying your culinary holiday. From wine and cheese tasting experiences and private appellation tastings in prestigious wineries to workshops with a Michelin-starred chef, luxury is never far away.
Some of the best places to find restaurants include Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Kenwood and Glen Ellen. You’ll also find some of the most exclusive, up-and-coming fine dining spots in nearby San Francisco.
Wine Paths brings together the amazing Slow Food and dining experiences of California with award-winning winery tours. To find out more about customizing your luxury holiday to the Sonoma Valley, get in touch with our local travel expert Ania.