Last week MJD and I got to celebrate our five year anniversary by spending a few days in Sonoma. We were so excited to get back out to California Wine Country after our trip to Napa a couple years back (more on Napa here and here). By the end of our stay, we were already talking about what we would do the next time we visited. To me, that is the tell tale sign of a good trip- that you can’t wait to go back! With over 400 wineries in Sonoma County, it can be a bit overwhelming to plan a trip. I know I definitely struggled with this when planning. If you are lucky enough to be planning your own trip to Sonoma, here are a few of our favorites that I would recommend adding to your itinerary! Oh and if you go have a glass of wine for me please 🙂
Where To Stay-
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa: The Fairmont in Sonoma was absolutely beautiful and we were glad we chose it as our home base for our trip. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to get there from San Francisco Airport and when we arrived we were greeted with a delicious glass of champagne. The architecture of the Fairmont is in the mission style you will see in downtown Sonoma. The hotel and spa are also located on a thermal spring and are one of the only hotels in the country to have their own source of natural mineral water. With five pools of mineral water on location, it is definitely something you want to plan to schedule in to your vacation. Personally I loved the water yoga class in the mineral pool which was super unique and my first time trying something like that. While I probably wouldn’t walk from the Fairmont to downtown Sonoma, there is a car service that will drop off and pick up in town. This was super convenient for going out to dinner each night. The hotel also hosts wine tastings with visiting wineries every afternoon. We loved this and it was a great way to try some other wineries you may not have heard of.
Where To Drink (Wine of course)–
Scribe Winery: Scribe was the most “Instagramable” winery we visited and the food, wine and overall ambiance was just as beautiful! Pulling up to Scribe is an experience of itself with its’ palm tree lined driveway leading up to the gorgeous mission style home surrounding by their vineyard, flowers and vegetable gardens. We booked a tasting on their hacienda and both loved it. While a lot of wineries give you snacks, Scribe actual served what we used as our lunch- salad from their garden, prosciutto and melon, almonds from their farm, grilled zucchini- it was all SO fresh and so good. It was a great experience having the food and wine paired together. The tasting included five wines and my favorites were the rose and the pinot noir. Both delicious! Visit if you want to take the perfect Instagram picture while drinking delicious wine.
Ridge Vineyards– Lytton Springs: MJD made a special request to add Ridge to our itinerary after watching the documentary Somm 3 which talks about the Judgement of Paris, a blind taste test of French and American wines, in which Ridge was named the best Cabernet. Ridge has two different locations- the Lytton Springs location which is in Healdsburg is the one we visited. We decided to book a private tour at Ridge since it was one MJD was really looking forward to and it was amazing. Bob, our tour guide, was the best, but seriously everyone we met there was super friendly and helpful. We learned a ton about California wine history as we rode around the vineyards in their golf cart, toured their facility and the barrel room. The tour concluded with an epic tasting in the library. This was one of my favorites because we tried some wines I previously wasn’t overly familiar with, such as zinfandel and syrah, and ending up falling in love with them. One note- if you stay closer to the town of Sonoma like we did, Healdsburg is about 50 minutes north so make sure you keep in mind when planning. Visit if you want to learn more about California wines and taste some of the world recognized best wines.
Copain Wines: I’ll be fully transparent and say I picked our visit to Copain after researching wineries with the best views. Located in Healdsburg, Copain has a truly breathtaking view of the Russian River Valley, the mountains of Sonoma and the surrounding vineyards. The tasting there was a great mid-day relaxation point to enjoy the view and the wines. We did a tasting of five wines which was outside overlooking the valley. Visit for the view, but don’t be surprised if you leave with an order of wine to ship home like we did 🙂
Hamel Family Wines: Hamel was our last stop on a busy day and unfortunately we were a bit late for our tour and tasting. Kiersten and Alli were the two most gracious hosts and accomodated us, never once making us feel like we were getting a rushed or shorter experience because of our own lateness. The wine tasting takes place in their beyond stunning Hamel Family Ranch Estate. I kept saying to Kiersten how lucky she was to work there with the view of Sonoma Valley! The tasting included four wines and we fell in love with the Isthmus which is a Cabernet blend and unique to Hamel. Hamel is a small batch winery and we loved getting to try wines that we wouldn’t be able to find in New England. Don’t worry, we went home with some 🙂 Visit if you are a fan of Cabernet (the Isthmus is a must try!) and want to experience smaller batch wines.
Where To Eat-
the girl & the fig: I had heard about the girl & the fig long before we had our trip planned and so I was excited to experience it ourselves for our first dinner of our trip. the girl & the fig appears to be somewhat of a Sonoma staple, located on the square in downtown Sonoma for the last twenty years. The restaurant classifies itself as French Country and California inspired and whatever you take that to mean, know it is delicious! We loved our cheese board complete with amazing figs, the pate was delicious and I loved every bite of the crispy chicken for my entree. MJD, an avid duck orderer, loved his duck entree for dinner. We ended with their warm cookies and milkshake which was also unbelievable! Sitting on their back patio was romantic and both M and I said it was a highlight of our trip. Would absolutely go back.
Sunflower Caffe: Also located right off the Sonoma plaza, we went to Sunflower Caffe for breakfast one day and had amazing avocado toast while enjoying their outdoor dining space. The caffee offered tons of delicious looking breakfast options and also great coffee for those of us who like to stay caffeinated. The building it is located in is also historic to Sonoma’s foundation and intrigued us to research a bit more about the town- you can easily walk from the caffee to the mission where you will see some of the historic buildings and learn about the Bear Flag Republic and the impact to the town.
Oakville Grocery, Healdsburg: We visited Oakville Grocery in Napa for lunch during winery hopping one day and after I saw there was another location in Healdsburg, I instantly wanted to go back. Their artisan sandwiches are so good and great for soaking up a day of wine. The turkey sandwich is my fave!
Other Things To Do In Sonoma:
Visit The Sonoma Farmer’s Market: We got kind of lucky because our first night in Sonoma was their farmer’s market! It is pretty big and is set up in the plaza in downtown Sonoma. There is live music, gorgeous produce and flowers from local vendors and amazing looking food options. We didn’t eat anything because of our dinner reservation, but the poke truck looked so so good!
If you are heading to Sonoma County and have any questions about our experiences, please leave a comment- I’d be happy to help. Need Napa suggestions too? Visit my Napa Travel Guide and Winery guides!
Cheers and happy travels!