Indulge! A Guide to Sonoma County Wineries and Food
As my wife passes her due date (and still no baby yet), I’ve enlisted the help of some fellow travel bloggers to keep up with regular postings. This second post comes from Megan of Traveling Nine to Fiver. Megan makes us all a little jealous as she provides a food and wine guide to one of the many wine regions on her home state of California. Don’t we all wish Sonoma County was a little over an hour away…
If you’re like me and love both food and wine there might not be a better place to indulge than throughout Sonoma County, California. Within reach are big-ticket Sonoma County wineries, unique small production vineyards and a variety of lip-smacking restaurants from upscale to casual diners.
Two distinctive areas to explore within Sonoma County are Sonoma Square and up into Healdsburg. Each area has a unique feel and offerings. The Sonoma Square is perfect if you are looking for a walkable adventure, but the unique properties in Healdsburg are worth the drive. If you’re spending a couple of days in the area, you can easily explore both.
The Sonoma Square
A quaint downtown area that is perfect for spending your day wandering around. You can visit shops and tasting rooms right on the square and additional wineries are in walking distance. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the restaurants on the square.
On your way into wine country stop by the Fremont Diner for breakfast or lunch. This quaint diner has a comfortable feel with chickens running around the outdoor seating area. The food is full of flavor and perfect for brunch or lunch.
Around the square stop by the Murphy’s Irish Pub for an enticing sandwich or fish and chips, or head across the alley way to explore some Tibetan, Nepali and Indian cuisine at The Taste of the Himalayas.
For wine swing by Hawkes Wine for a welcoming tasting room not even a block off the square. Their outdoor patio is a perfect spot to sit down & relax while enjoying a glass or tasting of their wines.
For a more classic winery feel, you will find Buena Vista Winery just a mile off the square, one of the oldest wineries in California. It is a beautiful property, with tasty wines and has unique tours and displays on the history of winemaking. Plus, it’s a beautiful walk up from the square.
The Sonoma Square may be a small area, but it is filled with a plethora of things to do and places to explore. It’s easy to spend a day or two wandering around. You’ll find the Sonoma Square just over an hour from San Francisco, and an hour and twenty minutes from Sacramento.
Further North, you’ll find Healdsburg and the surrounding communities, This region has as much character as in Central Sonoma, but you’ll find fewer tourists and tourist traps up here. You’ll find boutique wineries, local haunts and, of course, friendly locals themselves.
Healdsburg Square is similar to Sonoma with cute boutiques and bookstores. They also have tasting rooms on the square by some big names such as La Crema, plus some unique dining options including the Shed, a real farm to fork experience.
Or stop by the Healdsburg Bar & Grill for one of the best burgers in the country. It might be a simple burger when you first look at the menu, but once you take a bite you’ll realize how high of quality each bite is. I’ll agree it is one of the best burgers I’ve had.
Head away from the square and visit a prime wine tasting trail known as Dry Creek Valley, only a couple of miles up the road. While there are a lot of great destinations to choose from make sure to stop by Truett Hurst.
Here you’ll find luscious wine, friendly staff and a beautiful property. Outdoors they have an amazing patio, a garden and farm, and a sitting area right on the river. You can happily waste away an afternoon here.
If you’re up this way you also have to swing by the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. It’s unlike any other with amazing artifacts from Coppola’s films, including the Godfather desk, a restaurant based off of Francis’ favorite foods on property, wine tasting tours, and even a pool.
Spend your afternoon sipping on wine or a blended wine cocktail by the pool, then splurge on their amazing tasting menu. Or take a morning tour and grab their savory burger for lunch.
One More Hidden Gem in Sonoma County
One of my favorite Sonoma County Wineries is the Lasseter Family Winery. You might recognize the name, as John Lasseter is the head of Disney Pixar Animation. Yes, that means Pixar and wine. This spot is also one of highest quality tasting experiences I’ve had yet.
Call ahead to book your appointment and when you arrive your group will be the only people on the property. You’ll tour the vineyard and production area with a knowledgeable guide, learning about their winemaking processes, then sit down for a beautiful wine tasting with a cheese and chocolate pairing. All of this is only $35, or free for wine club members, not much above an average tasting fee in Sonoma.
Indulge and Enjoy
Eat, drink and enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a day trip in Northern California, a weekend getaway or even a week relaxing in wine country, Sonoma County wineries have so much to offer. Eating and drinking only scratches the surface in Sonoma.
While I enjoy Napa, for me Sonoma has even more to offer and with a much more laid back feel. On top of that you can find more bang for your buck with fewer tourists around.
What is your favorite spot in Sonoma? Please leave a comment below!
Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the political world in California, but on evening and weekends spends time exploring the West Coast and more. All while encouraging others to join in on the adventures. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.