When you live in Northern California you learn that Napa and Sonoma in so many ways blend into each other. While each little region has its own character and its own styles, the county lines themselves are not the deciding factors.
They both hold amazing treasures, whether you want to explore wineries, nature, breweries or food. You can pick one region and explore it, pick a final destination and stop places along the way or hop all over the place.
This list isn’t intended to be an itinerary but more of inspiration to get you started in California wine country. A few of my favorite spots but don’t forget to visit a few of my other favorite places in the Napa Valley, including Downtown Napa and more things to do in California’s Wine Country.
While many people are concerned about the state of California’s Wine Country after the fires of 2017, don’t worry! The region is up and running and it’s a great time to visit. Get some inspiration by checking out why you should visit California Wine Country right now.
The oldest winery in Sonoma County is just a 15-minute walk up from the town square.
From sparkling wine to Pinot Noir, their wines are full of flavor. The property is beautiful and makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. It also serves as a museum of winemaking equipment if you’re interested in learning more about the craft of winemaking.
Their outside space provides a perfect shady spot to enjoy a bottle with a few friends, all without breaking the bank.
One of the more unique and personal wine tasting experiences you can find. You have to make an appointment, but when you arrive your group will be the only one on the property.
Tour the vines, the winery and finish with a tasting featuring cheese and chocolate. All of this for just a $20 tasting fee, a standard cost in Sonoma.
This experience goes beyond your standard walk up and taste, learning more about how they work to make wine without impacting the environment and, of course, a little Disney trivia threw in.
If you’re a fan of bubbly you cannot pass up Mumm. Take a seat on their patio where you have an amazing view across the valley. Try a flight or two, I think it is the most fun when each person orders a different flight and you get to try more things and enjoy some lavish sparkling wine.
They carry much more than you will see in the store and you can learn a little more about what sparkling wine can offer. Plus if you’re a baseball fan they sell San Francisco Giant Championship bottles.
Tucked a little further up in the Napa Valley, you will find a rustic and lush property. Hop into the tasting room to explore the different labels and varietals. I enjoyed trying and comparing multiple Pinot Noirs to find my favorite.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to drink, grab a bottle and head into the garden across the bridge. Enjoy the shade of many trees while you have a chance to relax. One of the best properties I’ve found without having to leave the main roads.
In the Carneros region, which is tucked right between Napa and Sonoma, you will find the best view in wine country I have seen yet.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge. Even on a cloudy day, you can see across miles and miles of vineyards. Making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.
The wine comes from a Spanish heritage, including a Tempranillo and albariño that I thoroughly enjoy. But at the same time, their classic Napa Valley varietals are just as delicious.
Enjoy the tasting room or the beautiful patio as you taste a very different palette than you typically find in the region.
A Little Bit of Everything
Do you enjoy sparkling? Spanish wine? A breathtaking view? Or a lush garden? You will find a little bit of everything in the Napa and Sonoma wine country. And I didn’t even start into the food! Find more of what to do in Napa beyond just the wine.
For more information about Napa & Sonoma check out these great books on Amazon including Fodor’s Napa & Sonoma, Frommer’s Napa and Sonoma day by day, and Lonely Planet San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Road Trips.
I’ve been exploring these regions for a while now, but one of the great things is how much there is always left to try. Have you been to the region? If so, which spots where your favorite, that I have to try next?