Winter is one of the most surprising times to visit Sonoma Valley: The hills bursting in bright green, yellow mustard flowers in the vines, which themselves lie dormant, taking a rest before the next vintage begins. Cooler than the rest of the year, but still mild from our Mediterranean climate, there’s an air of romance and coziness that can’t be denied. At this time of year, locals embrace the morning mist, the glow of holiday lights, the warmth of fire pits, and nourishing foods and wines to put a little meat on the bones!
VISIT FOR THE DAY, STAY FOR A WEEKEND, OR STAY FOR AWHILE
Winter is a great time to see the valley. Visiting during the off-season makes it possible to roam quieter streets than the rest of the year and get extra TLC from local shopkeepers. For those who want a getaway from San Francisco or Sacramento, it’s a quick trip away. For those looking to work, learn and live remotely for a month or more, Sonoma Valley’s vacation rentals, hotels and inns are great places to relax, unwind in country charm, and help you relax and settle in for awhile. To up the charm factor during your stay, be sure to look for lodging with ensuite fireplaces, which you’ll find throughout the valley.
Nature buffs love the diversity of Sonoma Valley, especially with quieter hiking trails and biking routes. With dozens of state and regional parks to choose from, you’ll witness the splendor of rushing creeks and waterfalls, wander beneath the canopy of redwood trees, and spot wildlife like deer and wild turkey. After the dryness of summer and fall, see the landscape come to life with lush green grasses, medicinal herbs, and wild lilies. Those who only know four distinct seasons will relish the beautiful and unusual combination of winter and spring in the very same season. (It’s possible to hike a lightly-frosted trail in the morning and enjoy a mild picnic that afternoon – the best of Northern California.)
For those who are looking to escape the snow, the beauty of a North Bay winter is unparalleled! Check out the Field Guide to Sonoma Valley to help you get to know the local flora and fauna.)
SPEND YOUR HOLIDAYS SONOMA-STYLE
Sonoma Valley is a great place to spend the holidays. Romantic and cozy but without the hassle or frigid temperatures of snow, you'll delight in the glow of holiday lights, hearty local fare, and a relaxed, stress-free pace. Starting with the Annual Lighting of the Plaza Celebration before Thanksgiving, and extending through New Year's Day, the valley's holiday line up is full of festivities. Get your holiday shopping done at downtown Sonoma's diverse boutiques or at Viansa Sonoma Winery & Marketplace. Check out our page on holiday events, and make your reservations early. Sonoma Valley is a holiday gem!
ENJOY SONOMA’S BOUNTY
Beyond the beauty of Sonoma Valley, the fruits of the land are what make our region so famous. Though the valley itself extends only 17 miles long, from San Pablo Bay to Santa Rosa, it boasts a stunning 13,000 acres of vineyard land, organized into five viticultural areas. Many grape varietals are planted here, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are what we’re best known for. With over 300 wineries to choose from, there’s something for everyone for every taste and thirst, from elegant tasting rooms to rustic winery experiences. And our wineries offer a cornucopia of options, including tasting dinners, picnics, bocce courts, vineyard tours, and special winemaker tastings. Make sure to check the websites of the wineries you’re interested in visiting to see what's available.
In addition to wine, the food in Sonoma Valley is second to none. As the birthplace of the locavore movement, our restaurants focus on locally sourced ingredients, simple but elegant preparations to showcase the flavors, and warm country hospitality. Indulge in elegant indoor dining, take advantage of our heated outdoor parklets, or order take-out and enjoy a picnic at a park of the historic Sonoma Plaza, just like the locals do. At this time of year, look for fresh crab and cioppino, roasted meats and vegetables, mushrooms of all kinds, wood-fired pizzas, local goat cheeses, and house-made pickles.
SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HERE
In case it’s awhile before you can get here to see us, please stay in touch by signing up for our monthly email or sign-up to receive a free Visitors Guide. Once you get here, be sure to stop by one of our two Visitors Centers and get the 1:1 expertise of our Visitors Service Representatives, who will be happy to personalize your experience.