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 (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 straying far from where you are staying. There is excellent food and wine everywhere you go – 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 had, explored the wineries of Dry Creek, and made it to Bodega Bay just in time to watch the sunset on the Pacific Ocean.
I did a lot of driving and got a good overview of the area – enough to know that like good wine, 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 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, the scenery alone is enough reason to go. Take my advice, pace yourself. Enjoy the views. And drink a lot wine.
I’ll be writing more in depth this week about my time in Sonoma. From the wineries I visited to restaurants, 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?