Sonoma wineries are just north of San Francisco in northern California. They are not as heavily traveled as the wineries in Napa Valley, its neighbor to the east. This makes it the perfect place to visit and enjoy a glass of award winning red wines.
Spread out over thousands of vineyard acres are more than 300 northern California wineries. Each of the thirteen designated American Viticulture Areas or AVAs has its own red wine specialty. With more than fifty five wine varieties in the region, it's easy to find a favorite.
Whether you are looking for help with planning a trip or want to know more about the amazing wines from this region -- you can find it all here.
Sonoma wineries are beautiful. The best way to fully enjoy them is to see them for yourself! But -- what are your options? Read on to learn more about your options and to find the one that is right for you.
If this is your first time visiting the Sonoma wineries, then starting with a day long group tour is a great option. Each tour includes a guide and driver who take you to a handful of Sonoma wineries. Tour options range from larger group tours to smaller, semi-private tours. Hopping on a bike for the day is another favorite tour option.
At each winery you visit, you will have the chance to learn more about some of their popular wines. Some even include tours of the winemaking facilities, storage caves and more. Participating in one of these is an easy way to start your vacation.
Would you rather go on your own? If you've visited the region before or plan on staying for a while, then heading out on your own is the right choice.
Curious about where to start? With over three hundred wineries, it seems like a daunting task to plan it all out on your own.
No reason to worry, let me help you out. Living close by, I visit Sonoma wineries all the time and have some great tips to help you get started.
Find a number of resources on my Sonoma County wineries page. Discover what to expect when traveling on your own. Find out the best time of year to visit. How the open tasting room hours work. What you need to do to set up an appointment and more.
As I mentioned above, each wine region in the county has a specialty. Climate, soils and other external factors are different for each region. This means that each region has the perfect conditions for different types of red.
What is the specialty of each region? Where are they located? What should I look for when buying? Find answers to these questions and more for each of the Sonoma wineries and region sections below.
Alexander Valley is one of the largest regions in the county. You will find it in the northeast side. There are almost 40 Sonoma wineries to choose from in Alexander Valley.
Here you can find some of the best, big and bold Cabernet Sauvignon. The warmer weather and location of this region also makes it the perfect place for Merlot wine, Zinfandel and Syrah.
Discover some of the best Alexander Valley wineries. Learn more about its full bodied red wines. In addition, find out about the history of wine production in the region.
Just to the west of Alexander Valley is another popular red region, Dry Creek Valley. Zinfandel is king here and you can find some of the best in the world from this region.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the other top red wines from this region. If you love Zinfandel or want to visit a smaller, less crowded region, then read on to find out more about Dry Creek Valley wineries.
The Knights Valley AVA is a small and little known region. Cabernet Sauvignon is the main red here. Cabs grow well in its high altitude vineyards on the side of the Mayacamas Mountains.
Alexander Valley is to its north. Chalk Hill is on the western side of Knights Valley. Napa Valley borders it on the east.
Only two wineries sit inside the borders of the region. Just less than 4,000 vineyard acres grow grapes for wine.
Northern Sonoma AVA is a large region that includes most of the county. Created after years of petitioning from E & J Gallo, they are still one of the few Sonoma wineries to use it.
They requested its creation as a way from them to change the location designation on their labels from Sonoma County to Northern Sonoma. The benefit to them is being able to say the grapes are from a smaller wine region.
This small, but notorious region is in northern part of the county. It sits high in the hills and partially overlaps with the Dry Creek Valley region.
Rockpile Zinfandel are famous here. The region is small, but makes mighty -- and highly sought after -- Zinfandel wines. Discover Rockpile Zinfandel wines, the region's history and a little about the other red wines that grow in this region.
Still in the northern Sonoma County area, you will find the famous Russian River Valley. This region is a true find for those that love Pinot Noir wines. Sitting close to the coast, this region has some of the best climate to produce fruit forward wines.
Green Valley of Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill are two sub-appellations fully within the borders of Russian River Valley. Among the three regions, you will find more than 50 wineries.
Where do you start? Read on to find some of my top Russian River Valley winery recommendations. Learn a little about the history of this region. Also, find out more about the two sub-appellations and the red wines that make this region so popular.
Sonoma Coast covers a larger area, but only contains a few vineyards. Starting in the south at the San Pablo Bay, this region runs along the Pacific coast all the way up to Medicino County.
Climate here is rainier and foggier than other Sonoma County regions. All vineyards here need to be at an altitude above the fog line to produce commercial worthy wines. Pinot Noir and cool weather Syrah are the two main reds growing in this region.
Sonoma Valley is one of the most well known regions in the county. It is just to the east of Napa Valley. It is also the birthplace of the wine industry in California.
Here you will find around 40 wineries. Bennett Valley, Sonoma Mountain and Carneros are three sub-regions within its boundaries.
On the southern end in Carneros, you find some great Pinot Noir wines. In the northern, warmer Bennett Valley you will find Merlot as well as some Pinot Noir. Uncover some of the other great reds from Sonoma Valley wineries and more on this popular region's history.
Small towns dot the landscape throughout Sonoma County. Each small town has at least a few places for visitors to stay. Here are some recommendations for lodging based on the regions you are visiting.
If you are visiting Sonoma wineries in Sonoma Valley -- including Carneros -- then your best bet is to stay in the small town of Sonoma. This is a great jumping off point for the wineries in this region. On the town square, you will also find great restaurants that serve wines from a variety of Sonoma wineries.
Three very popular options are The Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa, the Renaissance Lodge at Resort & Spa and the Inn at Sonoma. Read the details of each one to learn more about what to expect when you stay, its location in town and other amenities.
You can also find a handful of additional options on the Sonoma Valley Hotels page. Here you will find some more budget friendly options.
Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley or Russian River Valley are all on the northern end of the county. If you visit the Sonoma wineries in these regions, then you are closer to the towns of Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. Find some great recommendations for hotels in and around both of these northern California towns:
Getting here and getting around is pretty easy. Do you need some tips for getting from the airport? What about some tips for getting around during your visit?
Check out the transportation page for more details. Here you will find details on the Sonoma County Airporter and other transportation tips.
Although visiting Sonoma wineries is the best way to experience them, not everyone has the time or money for the journey. What are the other options? How about enjoying a Sonoma red wine at home?
Popular red wines from here include Zinfandel wine from Dry Creek Valley or Rockpile. You can find an amazing selection of fruit forward Pinot Noir wines from Carneros or Russian River Valley. Do you like big and bold red wines? How about trying a Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley?
Buying online is one of the best ways to find the wine you want. Online retailers have the advantage of being able to carry a larger selection. They also carry wines from a larger variety of regions -- even those regions that aren't as popular, but where you find some of the best values.
By using an online retailer, you can also sort through the selection quickly to zero in on the one you want. Red wines from Sonoma wineries are readily available online. You can find reds from some of the larger wineries such as Silver Oak Cellars or from lesser known wineries such as Freestone Vineyards.
You can also find some great deals online. Not only will you find a good selection of reds under $20, but you can also find some discounted wines. Buying it on sale is okay -- it is not an indication of the quality of the wine, but a way for the retailer to quickly move through some wines and clear the way for new vintages. Start here to find Sonoma wines at a great price:
Are you looking for a specific wine? If so, then your best bet is to find it on their site.
Many wineries now have the capabilities to ship to you directly. Many have a website that allows you to order your wine directly through them or call them to place your order.
If you are not able to visit in person, this is one of the best alternatives. You can either buy bottles from them or sign up for their club. If you are a big lover of wines from a specific winery, then joining their club might be your best bet. Before signing up, read more about the types of red wine clubs and what to expect once you join.
Unfortunately, there are still some states that do not allow their residents to buy wine online. This is governed by the states, so online retailers or wineries do not accept purchases from these states.
If this is the case, the good news is that you can still purchase wines from Sonoma wineries at your local wine shop. Wine shops are usually set up by region -- so seek out the California or Sonoma section.
Most wine shops only carry the most popular wines. Sometimes you have to hunt around for a wine shop willing to carry or personally order specific Sonoma wines.
Still not sure where you want to go? Check out the Frommer's Napa and Sonoma Day by Day guide book. This guide book puts more than 30 itineraries right in your hand. It includes full color maps along with photos of this picturesque wine area.
The book covers both Napa and Sonoma, so you can determine which region you want to visit. They are also right next to each other, so if you have more than a day -- you can visit both!
Also included are some tips for visiting San Francisco. You can find tips for other activities in the area such as hiking and biking too. Learn more about this Frommer's guide.
Want to showcase the beautiful vineyards of Sonoma in your home? If you are like me and want to remember the peace and calm of the Sonoma wineries and wine regions, then check out some of these professional pictures.
You can decide on the size, framing and more. This allows you to create the perfect work of art for any room in your house. You can also sit back with a glass of wine and reminisce about your amazing adventure to Sonoma County -- or dream about a trip in the future!
Ready to book a day trip in Sonoma Valley? The Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley tour is a new tour this year. It combines the fun of wine tasting with clear vistas of the vineyards. It also puts the burden of driving on someone else!
This full day tour starts in Sonoma, California. You will enjoy six hours of wine tasting at four family owned Sonoma wineries. Enjoy a catered picnic lunch in a scenic location too!
Find out more about this Trolley tour.
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