If you find yourself visiting Nothern
California Wine Country, there is no shortage of choices to visit: Napa Valley, Russian River
Valley, Anderson Valley and beyond. Sonoma Valley is also an excellent option, offering
charming towns, beautiful landscape and a wide variety of restaurants.
Here is our overview of the Sonoma Valley region and our tips for wineries to taste at or tour, as
well as recommendations for dining:
Sonoma Valley Location and
Sonoma Valley is a picgturesque
region of Northern California, an hour north of San Francisco and just west of Napa Valley.
Starting at the San Pablo Bay in the south, the valley continues through the cheerful town of
Sonoma and extends through the smaller rural communities of Glen Ellen and Kenwood,
terminating in the southern part of the city of Santa Rosa. Accessible from the north or south via
Highway 101, Highway 12 is the scenic highway extending from the top to bottom of the valley, with
wineries and panoramas peppered throughout.
If you're planning a single-day trip, we recommend focusing on one area of the valley rather than
trying to hit points at both the northern and southern ends. Three sample day itineraries are
Sonoma Valley Tasting Itinerary - South
Driving in from San Francisco? Try this itinerary to make the most
of your day by cutting down on your drive time.
Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace - The first winery coming in from the south.
Sample a variety of wines only available here or though their club.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards - Mix it up and grab some bubbles. Gloria Ferrer
specializes in sparkling wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
**Head to Sonoma's historic downtown plaza for shopping and a bite - our favorite
restaurants include The Girl and the Fig and Cafe la Haye.
Buena Vista Carneros Winery - Just outside Sonoma, this is California's first winery and
boasts beautiful architecture and grounds as well as tasty wines.
Ravenswood - No wimpy wines! This pioneer of Zinfandel makes it all, from their
value-oriented Vintners' Blend to higher-end single vineyard wines.
Sonoma Valley Itinerary #2 - Mid-Valley
This itinerary begins on Highway 12 but quickly detours
on a beautiful scenic drive through downtown Glen Ellen and up Bennett Valley
B.R. Cohn Winery - This estate boasts some of Sonoma's
best Cabernet as well as a line of artisanal olive oils, which are also available to
Valley of the
Moon - This producer makes a wide array of wines, including several elegant and subtle light
whites, such as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
**Break up the day with a visit to Jack London Village for shopping and tastings of olive
oil or chocolate. Try lunch at The Fig Café or Glen Ellen Inn.
Benziger Family Winery - Learn about the family's commitment to biodynamic winegrowing
practices through a self-guided outdoor tour.
Creek Winery - Nestled on Bennett Valley Road, this winery is known for outstanding Chardonnays
as well as beautiful lavendar gardens.
Sonoma Valley Itinerary #3 - North
Start your day in the town of Kenwood, and spend the afternoon in and around the city of
Landmark Vineyards - Founded by the Deeres of John Deere fame, this beautiful estate
produces Chardonnay and small batches of fine Pinot Noir.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard - Our favorite part of tasting at St. Francis is the food
and wine pairing menus. Excellent Zinfandels and reds.
**Enjoy antique shopping in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square followed by lunch at Willi's
Wine Bar or John Ash & Co. at the Vintner's Inn.
Paradise Ridge Winery - This 156-acre property is perched, as the name suggests, on a
ridge with amazing vistas of the Russian River Valley.
Martinelli Winery - Technically outside Sonoma
Valley in the town of Windsor, this is a fun place to end your day, with big, bold reds.
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