Sonoma County is big and beautiful and rugged. It’s redwood forests, boutique hotels, and miles of breathtaking coastline. Located just an hour north of San Francisco, and west of Napa Valley, it feels a bit raw and undiscovered. That is part of its charm.
Sonoma has a total land area of approximately 2,000 square miles, and 60,000 acres of vineyards. There are seventeen AVAs including the Russian River Valley (American Viticulture Areas) and over sixty-six varietals are cultivated. Finally, there are over 400 wineries. Whew! That’s a lot wine tasting.
Narrow down your choices
A smart way to explore Sonoma County is to pick an AVA or a town and start there. If you have two days, I’d recommend not wandering too far from where you are staying. There are excellent food and wine everywhere you go because Sonoma still maintains its strong agricultural roots.
You can’t see all of Sonoma County in one weekend
I visited the small town of Healdsburg (voted one of the most charming small towns in America by Smithsonian), drove the Bohemian Highway, experienced a traditional Japanese tea service, ate some of the most delicious scallops I’ve ever, explored the wineries of Dry Creek, and made it to Bodega Bay just in time to watch the sunset on the Pacific Ocean.
Getting to know Sonoma takes time. I felt that I tried to see and do too much – and was overwhelmed. Maybe I can save you from having a similar experience.
It is tempting to try to do it all – I know. And though it may sound cliche, Sonoma really does have it all. From chic small towns to lush valleys, cool rivers, and fifty-five miles of coastline; go for the scenery if not the wine. Take my advice and pace yourself. Enjoy the views. And drink a lot of wine.
I’ll be writing more in-depth this week about my time in Sonoma. From the wineries I visited, the foodie tours, and coastal drives, I’ve much to share; remember, Sonoma is big.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite photos from the trip – a view of the Russian River. The Russian River AVA is known for delicious cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay wines. Can you picture yourself there?