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Plan a Sonoma Valley Trip:

Favorite Wineries, Restaurants & Three Sample Itineraries

Visiting Sonoma Valley

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 Regions

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 below:

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 Road.

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 taste.
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 CafĂ© or Glen Ellen Inn.

Benziger Family Winery
 - Learn about the family's commitment to biodynamic winegrowing practices through a self-guided outdoor tour.
Matanzas 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 Santa Rosa.

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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