Sonoma is a beautiful little town surrounded by some of the best vineyards in the world. Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Napa, we picked Sonoma because it was more affordable and less touristy, but still had plenty of delicious wines and outstanding restaurants.
Logistics :: Sonoma is about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Oakland airport (and similarly from San Francisco airport). We researched taking shuttles or cabs, but renting a car was our best bet considering we’d need one in Sonoma to get from place to place. We stayed at a cottage found via Vacation Rentals by Owner. It was amazing; the owners left us wine, snacks, coffee and we could request fresh eggs from their chickens and had access to their cute vintage Beetle. (Click here to rent it.) We spent Friday through Sunday in wine country and it was the perfect amount of time.
Eat :: Start your wine tour at Domaine Carneros, rumored to have one of the best views of wine country, with a light brunch of cheese and caviar on the patio. It’s across the border in Napa, only a 20 minute drive from Sonoma. While still on “the other side,” go to Gott’s Roadside Grill for amazing burgers. Back in Sonoma, go to The Girl and the Fig for a comforting, casual meal. For breakfast and lunch, stock up on items at the Sonoma Market, a local Whole Foods-like grocery store. Locals told us to go to Doce Luna, Fig Cafe, Cafe La Haye and El Dorado Kitchen.
Drink :: Vineyards are everywhere and many allow for walk-in tastings, but reservations never hurt. We got private tours and tastings at Landmark Winery, where we rode a horse-drawn carriage around the vineyard, and Sebastiani Winery, where we fell in love with all of the wines. Friends also suggested the St. Francisco winery. As for bars, we went to Steiners in Sonoma Square, a rowdy bar with a live band. We were also recommended the historic Swiss Hotel, Blue Moon and Proof’d, too.
Do :: Beyond the seemingly infinite number of vineyards, Sonoma has some great hiking trails that jut out from the city like a burst of fireworks, plus nearby lavender fields that offer tours.
Extra, Extra :: The travel website, Fathom, has a great cheat sheet for Napa and Sonoma, including weather, tips and more.
What are your favorite Sonoma places to eat / drink / do? I’d love to hear in the comments!