Good evening! I hope you are having an amazing start to your week! If you have been following my Instagram then you probably know we have spent the last few days in Sonoma, CA. Our clients love to travel and they love to drink wine so we thought while we were in the area we would check into places you might want to visit. I can tell you from just researching the area, there are A LOT of places to visit and things to do while you are here. You will not be disappointed and we can honestly say that this might be one of our favorite places we have ever visited.
In deciding where to go in wine country I couldn’t choose between Sonoma and Napa Valley so I chose BOTH ;) They are literally right next to each other so you really don’t need to choose.
Chic urban accommodations with a flair of a modern barn are tucked deep into the redwoods of the Russian River. My favorite features were the private decks overlooking the forest and the first class spa. The inn also provides a decadent evening s’more station complete with homemade marshmallows – yum!
Consistently named to Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List, Hotel Healdsburg is a truly lovely hotel which provides urban travelers a touch of wine country with all the amenities of the city (ahem – full cell phone bars and a plethorah of restaurants to choose amoung). I highly recommending spending one day relaxing at the relaxing swimming pool surrounded by an olive grove and walking around the adorable Healdsburg town plaza.
Minimalist hotel with a slight bohemian touch is a fun stay. The hotel provides free public bikes and is definitely for those who want a slightly hipper scene. The hotel bar, Spoonbar, has fabulous mixed drinks to start your evening off right.
Secluded and remote, this is definitely the place to go when you need to fully unwind. This hotel has been on my bucket list for years. Calistoga Ranch is surrounded by ancient oaks, majestic hills, a rock-hewn stream and a private lake. Although the name calls it a ranch it definitely has more of a feel of a five star tree modified tree house. This hotel is the epitome of ultimate luxury designed with relaxation in mind. I highly recommend visiting the Spa if you stay here and a yoga session. The Calistoga region has natural healing mineral waters but the spa treatments are truly indulgent.
They are more well known for their dinner selections, but I really enjoyed having their box lunch and eating it at one of the many vineyards you will visit on your stay. Their tagline is "country food with a French passion," which is a perfect pairing with the variety of wines available!
This is fabulous restaurant with a limited menu but trust me, they have something for everyone and they do everything extremely well!
This rustic restaurant is a favorite amongst the locals. What I really loved about it is how inviting it felt and the unexpected pairings of flavors. End your evening with their homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream.
Their website states that it “combines the sophistication of a supper club with the flair of a speakeasy to create the perfect upscale eatery and neighborhood hang-out,” but to be honest, I did not notice the ambiance much. I ended the day after wine tasting and all I could think about was how obsessively good the food was and how fresh everything tasted! This is a must stop in my opinion.
We thoroughly enjoyed eating outside and taking in the view but if you have a small party I would highly recommend the Chef’s Atrium. The bistro style food is organic while using sustainably-farmed elements for both indulgent and healthful selection. I was very impressed with how innovative and flavorful each dish was.
Only two years old, this little gem is certainly making a name for itself. I did not have a chance to eat here on my trip but with the number of referrals I received to try it, I really should have made the time. Their fresh produce is picked from their own 3-acre garden – doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Attached to Hotel Healdsburg, this decadent restaurant was definitely one I will return to next time I am in the area! The atmosphere is modern sophistication with a slight nod to Spanish design and a hint of small town charm. I chose to eat outside on the terrace as the evenings were still cool. I highly recommend doing the tasting menu to enhance your palate. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar is must (trust me)!
Schedule a private tasting and be prepared for the best chardonnays you have ever tasted. They are lucky enough to have some of the oldest grape vines in all of Sonoma. This is a small winery off the beaten path that has limited production but was one of our favorite stops of our trip.
Nestled in a small tasting room in Sonoma Plaza, Walt offers a very narrow offering but they are known for their premier Pinot Noir and we now know why. It was wonderful! Note: they do not distribute their wine so buy what you like there.
I am not sure if you can visit Sonoma without visiting Chateau St. Jean. Their stately grounds, excellent picnic areas, architecture and tasting rooms were beyond lovely and it encompassed everything we thought Wine Country would be! I highly recommend doing the cheese and reserve wine tasting on the outside terrance overlooking the grounds.
Benziner has a unique take on growing grapes, not only organic, but in tune with the cycles of the moon. Our recommendation is to stick to the wines that were grown from the grapes on their vineyard. Imagery is Benzinger's little sister, specializing in experimenting with new varietals. They are creative and unconventional. I highly recommend tasting the port while you are there.
A great bubbly wine experience and cheese tray overlooking Art Alive, a contemporary art experience complete with peacocks and worthy of a two hour visit if you have time.
A favorite amongst locals. Although we did not have the opportunity to visit this winery on our trip I would be remis not to mention it here with the numerous recommendations we received.
Schedule a private or group tasting so you can truly enjoy their stunning winery operations, including their extensive sustainable and organic practices, as well as taking in the scenic views of Lake Hennessey and the Mayacamas range. Everything they make has a smooth finish. We had our tasting in the cellar which featured a heater and plush outerwear to keep you warm. We thoroughly enjoyed listening and taking in the descriptions of the wine as we were tasting them. The cheese sticks they served are also top notch. This is a must!
Educational and fun! This winery provides a lighthearted story and offers insights into the world of sparkling wine. Overall it is a great bubbly experience. Make this your last stop of your day!
Other Wineries of Notable Mention
Geyserville: Francis Ford Coppola Winery
This winery is a true destination not just a stop in for wine tastings. It felt more like a country club than a winery. There are four levels of wine: Russo, Diamond, Director’s Cut, and Reserve. I highly recommend the Archemides - it is liquid velvet with a wonderful smooth finish.
Beautiful gardens. Fabulous desert wines. Normally not a fan of chocolate infused wines but theirs changed my tune. Also a big fan the the 2006 Eldorado Gold.
The first winery as you pull into Sonoma is this idyllic Italian inspired winery situated on a hilltop. This winery started as a Sebastiani vineyard, one of Sonoma’s earliest Italian winemakers, as a place to share their love for wine, food and Italian heritage. The stunning views of Sonoma along with the Italian statuary and architecture makes this a great stop.
Calistoga: Sterling Vineyards
An aerial tram offers stunning views to all that visit this beautiful vineyard. My suggestion is to do your tasting on the South View Terrance so you can enjoy the panoramic views.
Calistoga: Vincent Arroyo Winery
This small,undistributed winery came to us as a strong recommendation from locals. Be sure to taste test their olive oils, petit sirah, and their port. We actually did have time to go to this winery and left with a bottle of port ;)