Sonoma, California + Wine Tasting the Russian River Valley
Being a big wine lover, I'll start with Sonoma, California and wine tasting in the Russian River Valley.
I recently spent a wonderful few days exploring San Francisco with some good friends. The stars had aligned so that my husband and best friend were both in SF for work at the same time, so we joined forces and we planned the typical city vacation. We went to a Giants game, we rode bikes over the bridge to Sausalito, we hung out in Dolores Park, and we complained about how it much cooler it was in the city than anticipated (Basically, we did all the things). San Francisco is one of my favourite cities and although I've been many times, I will never hesitate for another visit ( would anyone like to go?) It never gets old! I will get an SF tour guide up here soon enough, but for now, we'll head across the bridge to the idyllic Sonoma Valley.
Here are a few simple tips I learned about Sonoma:
- First off, don’t confuse Sonoma with Napa. I personally don't care, but the locals there take it hard. They have different climates (when growing grapes, very small weather variations make a big difference in flavor), and they have different mentalities, and they produce different wines.
- Always take the small back roads. The scenery is exquisite- located between the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountain ranges, you’ll be greeted with rustic farms, idyllic small towns, and scenic vineyards.
- Go on a weekday. We went on a Tuesday/Wednesday and it was perfect because we had most of the tasting rooms to ourselves and the people pouring our wine were extremely personable and attentive. Do take note though, many wineries are not open on Tuesday/Wednesday, so call ahead.
- If you’re a planner, book in advance. If you’re not, you’ll definitely be able to find great wines without a reservation. Plenty of vineyards are appointment only, and many are not. There are thousands of wineries in the region, but again if you're hoping to visit certain ones, be sure to call ahead.
- Ask for recommendations! If you don’t have a solid plan, and you like the person serving your wine, ask them for off the beaten path wineries- many of these people grew up in Sonoma, They. Know. Their. Sh*t.
- Be prepared to spend $. It’s not cheap.
Here are a few of my top wineries in Sonoma Valley:
- B. Wise - For the wine!
- Tasting Room (Open to the Public)- 9077 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452
- Vineyard Tours (By Appointment)- 396 London Way, Sonoma, CA 95476
Although we weren’t able to book a vineyard tour, the wine itself made this our number one stop, which says a lot. The tasting room is conveniently located on Highway 12 in Kenwood, just outside Sonoma, and they do a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon that were by far our favourite of the trip.
- MacRostie Vineyards- For the views!
Arriving at MacRostie through winding back roads, I saw it and said: “Wow, I hope we’re going there!”. Wowed by the incredible space- industrial concrete + exposed beams meet clean modern designed furniture with both masculine and feminine touches. Not to mention the expansive patio showcasing some of the best views in the valley. They have a Chardonnay that will impress everyone.
- Lambert Bridge- For the atmosphere, and the backcountry feel!
The grounds and redwood barn is a reason enough to visit this hidden gem. The beautiful barn boasts vaulted redwood ceilings paired with modern chandeliers. Enjoy a tasting of their very exclusive wine. Or do as we did and buy a bottle of Chardonnay, bring a picnic lunch, and enjoy in the intimate, perfectly manicured lawn.
- J Vineyards & Winery - For the Pinot Noir and the Bubbles!
Of course, there are tons of other incredible wineries, and aside from wine tasting, plenty of other stuff to do in the area; float the river, hike the hills, bike the beautiful roads, eat all the food, shop the local stores. I hope you love the Sonoma Valley as much as I do! Leave a comment below and let me know if you've been to any of these or have other's you'd recommend.
- Maggie @kitscrubs