Sonoma Valley is full of amazing things to do--so much so, that often times, the real gems never even make the guidebooks. That's why we’ve put together this list of some of our favorite hotspots and things to do—all are sure to make your next trip to Sonoma Valley a visit to remember. If you like what you read, come back again in the fall for the next edition of this quarterly series.
TASTING UNDER THE RADAR
When it comes to wineries and tasting rooms, it’s the curious person who gets more time with the hosts. When tasting in a larger venue, it can be hard to get that extra attention. Recently, four new tasting rooms have opened, operated by the owners and makers themselves, which means you’ll not only get all the answers to your questions, but you’ll also get the feeling that you’re visiting someone’s home. In addition, for those looking to explore beyond Sonoma Valley, there's an under-the-radar tasting experience that's equally memorable. Read below for details!
In Sonoma, right off the plaza, stop by to meet the Sorensen family of Caddis Wines—known for their Merlot, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. On Broadway, end a day of wine tasting with a cool, refreshing glass of hard apple cider at Pomme Cider Shop & Taproom while learning about ancestral cider-making methods. Many of Pomme’s selections come from local producers, so open your tastebuds to an entirely new experience! If you find yourself in Kenwood, right on Highway 12, come and experience neighboring tasting rooms, Hamilton Family Wines and Vaughn Duffy Wines. These husband-and-wife winery teams are sure to charm with their memorable wines, inviting tasting rooms, warm hospitality—the perfect spots to kick back and relax.
For those who want to explore outside Sonoma Valley, you don't want to miss a trip to the McEvoy Ranch, just outside of Petaluma to the west of Sonoma. Known for their olive oils and offbeat grape varietals, they offer up a memorable tasting and tour experience that is totally Instagram-worthy!
BIG CITY OPPORTUNITIES IN AN INTIMATE, SMALL-TOWN SETTING
Sonoma may be a small town, but we’ve got plenty of big-city amenities—always set in beautiful places! Check out the Sonoma Speaker Series at Hanna Boys Center to get inside the brains of national celebrities like astronaut Sunita Williams, activist Dan Pallotta who started the AIDS Ride, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Looking for the ultimate writing retreat? Meet world-class writers like Isabel Allende and Dave Barry at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for the Sonoma Authors' Festival and tap their expertise. Film buffs and foodies will swoon at the Sonoma International Film Festival in March—all based on wine and food themes and located throughout some of Sonoma’s prettiest venues.
While you’re at it, get a little taste of Broadway with Transcendence Theatre’s summer “Broadway Under the Stars” series. Set against a stunning backdrop of Jack London State Historic Park, it’s one of the most memorable venues in the valley! Looking to celebrate LGBTQIA+ pride wine country style? Don’t miss Out in the Vineyard’s Gay Wine Weekend every July, allowing you to sample different outdoor venues throughout Sonoma Valley.
LUNCH LIKE A LOCAL WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
With all there is to do in Wine Country, stopping for a long, fancy lunch may be out of the cards. So why not try something quick, delicious and easy? These three eateries are local favorites for their high-quality ingredients, oh-so satisfying selections, and the affordable prices.
Delicious Dish by Chef Lauren Cotner is a must! With mouthwatering Dungeness crab melts, fall-off-the-bone ribs and a shady patio with a killer view of Sonoma Mountain, you can sit back and relax over a bottle of wine in paradise. If lunch doesn’t fit with your timing, order online for a dinner pick-up or delivery. Those who love Lebanese and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine will go cuckoo for Chef Cristina Topham’s Spread Kitchen. Serving lunch and dinner, you’ll select your own protein to go over bowls, salads, or with a spread and luxuriate on Spread’s sun-dappled patio—a great stop for vegans and those who are gluten-free. Whatever you do, don’t miss their chicken shawarma dirty fries! For those who crave pizza, cross the street from Spread Kitchen and head to Il Fuoco, where their wood-fired pizzas are the stuff of legends. In fact, Chef Rob Larman has appeared on Guy Fiori’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in the past incarnation of this restaurant for his decadent creations!
TOURING THE NORTH BAY FOOD, WINE & CANNABIS SCENE
Touring in Sonoma County means exploring the diverse food, wine and cannabis offerings. From bus tours to trolleys, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. However, if you want a more intimate, bespoke experience, consider Old Vine Wine Tours within Sonoma Valley and Windsor Wine Tours for exploring the county beyond the valley. Both offer guided experience with local experts, giving you a fascinating insider’s view of the wine world. Old Vine Wine Tours offers a similar experience in cannabis, under the name Happy Travelers Tours. Van Soklov is a local cannabis activist and offers enriching information about this exciting plant! If you want to combine your wine with food, then you absolutely want to catch a tour with Gourmet Food & Wine Tours. You’ll stop at three restaurants and enjoy wine pairings, as well as a stop at a local tasting room—it’s a whole afternoon of utter decadence!
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The Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau is proud to represent hundreds of member businesses throughout the valley and beyond. While this list is a sample of all the incredible talent represented here, it’s by no means exhaustive. Make sure to sign up for our monthly newsletters, and check out our blog to learn more.