This past weekend my husband and I took a trip to Sonoma for a little wine tasting to celebrate his birthday. We have been to Napa a few times since we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area nearly seven years ago, but we had never been to Sonoma. In our defense, when you think of “wine country”, you think of Napa.
After this weekend, I think Sonoma will be our new go-to. While Napa is lovely in it’s own right, Sonoma is scenic, friendly, less expensive, and the wine is just as good.
Lodging: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
I was able to find a good deal on a room through Priceline, but this hotel can tend to be a little pricey. The location is perfect, being only a short drive/ride share/bus ride to loads of wineries and restaurants. This large hotel has a restaurant, bar, pool, and spa. In the afternoons, they host wine tastings in the lobby. They also offer guided hikes and other activities, though we did not partake on this particular trip. Our room was comfy and cozy, and the staff were friendly and welcoming. They offer valet service, but they also have ample self-parking available.
The first stop for us was Cline Cellars. The main building and tasting room here are small and unassuming, but don’t let that fool you. The grounds are gorgeous, and the land boasts an interesting history. You can learn all about it with a free guided tour. The property also houses the California Missions Museum, a collection of replica models of each of the missions in California, along with a little blurb about their history.
We met two miniature donkeys who live on the property as well, Peaches and Pudding. On our tour, we learned that twice a year, sheep are brought in to weed the vineyard. They don’t eat the grapes, and they clear out the weeds in the vineyard without the use of chemicals.
The tastings run $10/person, with the fee waived when you purchase a bottle of wine. They offer a variety of flight options for you to taste.
Across the road from Cline is their sister winery, Jacuzzi. Everything about this winery is beautiful. The grounds are elegant and grand, and there’s a lovely view from the back terrace. Tastings here are also $10/person, and the fee is waived when you buy a bottle.
Inside the main building, across from the tasting room, you will find The Olive Press with a wide variety of delicious and unique balsamics and (you guessed it) olive oils! We tasted several of these and decided to bring home a small bottle of the fig balsamic and the Sevillano olive oil.
The final winey we stopped at was Gloria Ferrer. This winery is known for the bubbles, and they have a menu of flight options to choose from, as well as some shareable munchies for the table. The main building is set up on a hill after a long driveway from the main road. They have seated tastings with table service. The other two previous wineries did not offer this. There is a terrace overlooking the vineyard, an indoor seating area with windows all around, and a cave cellar that is only open certain times a year. We had our tasting in the cave, which was a really neat experience. We decided to do the “Winery Exclusive” flight which consisted of three bubbly bruts. Along with this, my husband and I shared the “Sweet Trio Plate”. This was by far the most pricey stop on our day. The tastings were $35 each and the desert plate was $14. That being said, we did have table service here, and the tasting pours were heavy, so I felt the price was worth the experience.
Santé is located in the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn where we were staying, so we ended up having both a breakfast and a dinner here. The food was delicious! We had a reservation for dinner, but it was not busy either time we were there.
We grabbed a quick lunch here at the Plaza Bistro on Saturday between wine tastings. It is located on the square in downtown Sonoma. Everything on the menu looked delicious, but I decided on a classic cheeseburger.
Before heading home on Sunday, we went back to the square for breakfast at the Sunflower Caffe. The food was absolutely wonderful, and we sat on the back patio which was in a lovely garden. One great thing about the Sunflower Caffe is their commitment to their employees. Rather than expecting tips, they charge a little bit more for their food so that they can pay their employees a living wage. That alone is reason enough to give them your business!
I can’t believe we hadn’t been to Sonoma before this. We will definitely be visiting again as it is only a short drive from the Bay Area. Have you been there? Let us know what to check out next time!