Sonoma is the perfect balance to neighboring Napa: it’s geographically larger, its grape varieties are more diverse, and is generally much more relaxed. Where Napa has slick experiences at famous labels, Sonoma has more rustic wineries where you’ll likely meet owners working double time in the tasting room.
Here, we explore Sonoma wineries, tours, restaurants, and hotels to craft the ultimate wine country experience for Winetravelers. Please note that we’ve roughly grouped the information by region; since Sonoma is so big, we’ve listed places that are near to each other to make it all easier for visitors to navigate.
IN THIS GUIDE:
Arrowood Vineyards & Winery
14347 Hwy 12, Glen Ellen
Why Guests Love It: Veranda Picnics, Stunning Views, Sonoma-Sourced Grapes
Arrowood is a smaller-production winery that exemplifies Sonoma Valley. It’s charming, cozy, and excellent. Arrowood specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, but other offerings include Prowess, a Bordeaux-style red blend with lovely velvety tannins. Make reservations for a picnic to fully enjoy the grounds.
18596 Lomita Ave, Sonoma
Why Guests Love It: Rustic Buildings, Bio-Farming, Stellar Pinot Noir
To experience Hanzell is to experience expertise. From the emphasis on farming to the gorgeous rustic tasting barn, Hanzell offers some of the best of Sonoma. Book a visit to meet resident herding dogs, pigs, chickens, and of course, to taste through some stunning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Patz & Hall
21200 8th St E, Sonoma
Why Guests Love It: Sparkling Wine, Award-Winning Chardonnay, Beautiful Patio
Patz & Hall knows their way around Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – so much so that they offer the wines in both still and as blended sparkling wines. And, they offer a range of each so guests are able to taste through the varied terroir of Sonoma Valley. Schedule a Sonoma House tasting to experience the gorgeous range of flavors.
Bedrock Wine Co.
414 1st St E, Sonoma
Why Guests Love It: Limited Production, Historic Tasting Room, Interesting Wines
For those looking for some powerhouse (but balanced!) Zinfandels, Bedrock Wine Co. is where it’s at. However, Bedrock also produces some lesser-seen varietals, like Semillon, that are simply delightful. Tastings are very limited so be sure to book well in advance to try the wines in a historic 1852 house.
Amapola Creek Vineyards & Winery
392 London Way, Sonoma
Why Guests Love It: Vineyard Views, Off-the-Beaten-Path, Age Worthy Wines
Amapola Creek is a microcosm of Sonoma of sorts, with fabulous Chardonnay, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. The tasting room is slightly off-the-beaten path, nestled in quietly among the vines. Guests are encouraged to relax in the beautiful surroundings to experience “Slownoma.” Be sure to grab some larger formats because these wines age beautifully.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
2000 Denmark St, Sonoma
Why Guests Love It: Historic Property, Stunning Architecture, Food Pairings
For those eager to step back into California history, Gundlach Bundschu is the place to do so! The oldest family-owned winery in the state, Gundlach has no intention of stopping any time soon, thankfully for all of us! Book a food pairing, a Swiss Army truck excursion, or keep an eye out for special events – everything here is designed to be laid-back, fun, and delicious.
3339 Hartman Rd, Santa Rosa
Why Guests Love It: Boutique Producer, Organic Vineyards, Beautiful Views
Benovia has become a sought-after boutique producer, with small quantities that sell out quickly. Their stunning Chardonnays and Pinots show why: luscious fruit with bright clarity and balance. And tastings at the winery are just as beautiful, limited to small groups at their ranch house.
Merry Edwards Winery
2959 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol
Why Guests Love It: Legendary Producer, Female Winemaker, Stunning Pinots
Merry Edwards has some of the most recognizable labels in the world: the Arts & Crafts-inspired prints stand out for their beauty and tradition. And, they are representative of the wine inside, which are among the most sought-after in California. Best known for site-specific Pinots, Merry Edwards’s Sauvignon Blanc is a standout due to its creamy texture and softer edge.
3100 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol
Why Guests Love It: Cool Climate Wines, Laidback Vibe, Luncheons & Events
Housed in an unassuming structure in Sebastopol, Dutton-Goldfield offers guests a range of wine from cooler microclimates throughout Sonoma. Elegance, balance, and personality are the goals here, and all are achieved magnificently. Be sure to try the Gewürztraminer for an eye-opening experience.
Martinelli Vineyards & Winery
3360 River Rd, Windsor
Why Guests Love It: Family Owned, Rustic Setting, Standout Zinfandels
The Martinelli family has been cultivating grapes in Sonoma for over one hundred years when their ancestors first arrived from Italy. Handed down through the generations since, Martinelli still has the “like Nonna used to make” vibe about it. Service is about as warm and friendly as it gets, and the wines are just as enticing. Think Zin, in particular, to pair with your favorite fra diavolo.
Ridge – Lytton Springs
650 Lytton Springs Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Legendary Producer, Critical Favorites, Stunning Setting
Ridge almost needs no introduction but we’ll give it one anyway: one of the most celebrated California producers for over 60 years, Ridge manages to craft critical and consumer favorites year in and year out. And weirdly, Ridge is one of the most inexpensive tasting experiences to be had. Considering the quality of wines and surroundings, stopping by Ridge isn’t even a question – it’s a must.
33 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Interesting Varietals, Small Production, Single Vineyard
On the odd chance visitors are looking for something other than Pinot or Chardonnay (though… is that even possible?), Arnot-Roberts is the place to go. This no-frills tasting experience includes wines that are unlike anywhere else: Ribolla Gialla, Falanghina, and Trousseau are offered alongside Pinot, Chard, and Zin. Be sure to join their mailing list to get first dibs on such limited releases.
5610 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Beautiful Setting, Whimsical Vibe, Pairings Tasting
For those who love the intersection of art, magic, and wine, VML is a must. The wines are created to embody the magic and mystery of Sonoma, and the labels are gorgeous interpretations of that theme. Guests can delight in their surroundings as they taste through the impressive lineup, or simply get lost in the label art. Have a look at the trompe l’oeil that is Svengali Syrah – it’s fascinating.
Dry Creek Vineyard
3770 Lambert Bridge Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Classically Styled Wines, Historic Winery, Laidback Vibe
Dry Creek has held steady for over 50 years, making it one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma. And, what we love about it is its commitment to tradition: while others have pushed fruit and alcohol over-the-top, Dry Creek has maintained a more reined-in style, particularly with its Heritage wines. Make sure to try their Heritage Zinfandel to taste why it deserves its accolades.
2859 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Family Owned, Vineyard Views, Female Winemaker
Mauritson has been in the family for six generations and their dedication and passion has never wavered. Guests are encouraged to book a vineyard tour to experience that passion first-hand before setting in among the vines to taste through the standout wines. And with so many offerings to choose from, a Mauritson tasting truly has something for everyone.
4202 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Italian Varietals, Organic Farming, Small Production
Unti bypassed Cabs and Pinots and headed straight towards Rhône and Italy! The focus here is those grapes that are best suited for the climate of this specific property and Unti crafts some of the best around. Guests can taste through Grenache Blanc, Barbera, Aglianico, and even Fiano – all are impressive.
4900 W Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Beautiful Grounds, Organic Farming, Dog Friendly
Best known for their award-winning Zinfandels, Quivira produces Primitivo, Sauvignon Blanc, and more – and all are fantastic. Guests can enjoy the gorgeous grounds while sipping their way through the offerings, all of which is the result of organic farming practices. Be sure to try the La Follette lineup as well.
2383 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Relaxed Atmosphere, Eco-conscious, Friendly Service
Nalle makes a point to be straightforward and approachable without the pretension that can pop up in the wine world. Mission accomplished! This laid-back experience allows guests to taste some fantastic wines with friendly staff. Bonus: Ask about the coat of arms.
Chalk Hill Estate Winery
10300 Chalk Hill Rd, Healdsburg
Why Guests Love It: Legendary Producer, Beautiful Views, Winemaker Dinners
Chalk Hill has been producing award-winning wines for over 50 years, making it one of the staples of Sonoma wine country. Commitment to quality shines, with fruit-forward wines of incredible balance. Order a charcuterie board for a pairing experience.
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery
15725 Meyers Grade Rd, Jenner
Why Guests Love It: Stunning Views, Cool Climate Wines, Food Pairings
Fort Ross is a little further afield but is oh-so-worth it. Nestled near the mighty Pacific, it benefits from cool ocean air to moderate the microclimate. A tasting experience here includes gorgeous ocean views, stunning wines, and curated pairings.
While we’re thrilled to share our favorite experiences throughout Sonoma, let someone else do the driving, don’t worry about logistics and get a local’s perspective. Here are some of our favorite tours in Sonoma.
Sonoma Wine Rides will pick guests up at their hotels and tour wineries throughout Sonoma. Charcuterie boards are included.
This Sonoma Walking Food, Wine, & History Tour explores historic Sonoma on foot. It’s a beautiful experience and guests are able to try local cheese and chocolate along the way.
Sonoma Adventures Bike Tour with Lunch is a great option for those who want to slow down and take in the sweeping landscapes with a little exercise (one of our favorite ways to go wine tasting). Guests can go wine tasting at a more leisurely pace, and a picnic lunch is included.
The Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, which includes lunch, enables guests to step back in time and explore Sonoma via trolley, recreated after San Francisco’s legendary cable cars. Guests can taste through at several wineries and enjoy the beautiful surroundings as they go.
But, why stay Earth-bound when you can see it all from above? Join-in Flight in Sonoma takes guests up, up and away in a hot air balloon to see the sweeping expanse of landscapes down below. It’s an unforgettable way to see Sonoma.
John Ash & Co.
4330 Barnes Rd, Santa Rosa
The main restaurant at Vintners Resort is elegant, creative, and definitely a must for those on a wine-tasting adventure.
HopMonk has four locations in Sonoma (Sebastopol, Novato, Sonoma, and Penngrove) so it’s a great choice no matter where you land.
El Dorado Kitchen & Cantina
405 1st St W, Sonoma
Located in the historic El Dorado Hotel in downtown Sonoma, the Kitchen offers seasonal brunches and dinners, while the Cantina serves up informal fare like tacos and ceviche.
The Swiss Hotel
18 W Spain St, Sonoma
Housed in a boutique hotel in Sonoma, the restaurant here offers a laid-back vibe for pizza and pasta.
the girl + the fig
110 W Spain St, Sonoma
French classics in downtown Sonoma make the girl + the fig a perennial favorite for all.
Fern Bar in The Barlow
6780 Depot St, Sebastopol
This elegant space is a great choice for vegetarians and carnivores alike, with inventive dishes for all.
8050 Bodega Ave, Sebastopol
Seasonal menu with fresh ingredients served on a beautiful patio space for a fully Sonoma experience.
Underwood Bar and Bistro
9113 Graton Rd, Graton
This cozy, eclectic restaurant serves up bistro fare with California ingredients, alongside a killer wine list.
Drake’s Sonoma Coast Cuisine
103 Coast (Highway 1), Bodega Bay
Fresh seafood and more in a stunning setting along the rugged Pacific Coast.
304 Center St, Healdsburg
The art of barbecue can be found in this rustic, community-focused setting with everything from brisket to po’ boys.
4330 Barnes Rd, Santa Rosa
Vineyard views, spa services, on-site dining, and amenities like a bocce court and gym make the Vintners Resort perfect for a weekend getaway or more.
El Dorado Hotel
405 1st St W, Sonoma
Private balconies at the El Dorado Hotel offer vineyard views for guests who want to stay in the walkable downtown Sonoma. Onsite dining options are also fantastic.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission award-winning inn is tranquility itself, with fireplaces and jacuzzis throughout. Enjoy spa services for true relaxation.
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa
29 E MacArthur St, Sonoma
Charming attention to detail dots MacArthur Place Hotel with everything from yoga to spa services and multiple dining options.
The Lodge at Bodega Bay
103 Highway 1, Bodega Bay
The breathtaking views alone at The Lodge at Bodega Bay are a must, and the amenities and dining options even more so.
The southern end of Sonoma Valley is about an hour north of the Bay Area, accessible through Marin to the west or through Vallejo to the east. Northern areas of Sonoma can take 3 to 4 hours to reach from the Bay Area directly, so be sure to map out the route in advance. Since it is a large area, visitors are best advised to rent a car and have plenty of time to fully explore it.
Sonoma is quite close to Napa Valley, which runs parallel, to the east. However, mountain passes between the two are often very windy and can be quite dangerous to navigate, particularly at night. We recommend focusing on one valley or the other to fully enjoy the experience.
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