Sonoma Wine Tasting – Which Vineyards to Visit if You Only Have One Day

Sonoma Wine Tasting
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Crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge, it was mere minutes later until I was in wine country.  Lush, rolling green hills and vineyards stretched out before me as far as the eye could see.  Blue skies, birds chirping, and my hair whipping against my face once I rolled the windows down.  While most people think Napa when talking about “wine country”, I craved something a little less touristy.  A region with fewer crowds, where the wine is just as good, the views are just as beautiful, tastings are more affordable, and you don’t necessarily have to have a reservation to taste.  Which is why I headed to Sonoma Valley for a day at the Sonoma wineries.

Found in Northern California, nearly 45 miles North of San Francisco lies Sonoma wine country.  Made up of 425 wineries and growing more than 50 different grape varieties, Sonoma is the largest wine producer in Northern California.  A day in Sonoma wine tasting opened my eyes to some incredible wines.  Five wine tastings later and I was going to bed with a good buzz, full heart, and a deeper understanding of the beauty and culture that is Sonoma.

 

Arriving in Sonoma

While Sonoma does have an airport – Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport – expect prices to be steeper than if you choose to fly into Oakland (OAK) 42-miles away, or San Francisco (SFO) 47-miles away.  Once you arrive you can choose to rent a car and drive into Sonoma or take either a Lyft or Uber.  (If you’re new to Lyft, use code KYLEE45415 for $5 in ride credit.  If you’re new to Uber, use code vi9bs for $2 off your first three rides).

If you aren’t keen on driving, another option is to utilize the Sonoma Country Airport Express shuttle that operates to and from SFO, OAK, and Sonoma.  You can find all ticketing and fare prices here.  Once the shuttle drops you off in Sonoma you’re on your own and will have to find your way of transportation.

 

Checking in:  Sonoma Valley Hotels

Upon arrival to Sonoma first order of business was checking into the hotel.  While there are many options to choose from, centrally located I found The Lodge at Sonoma to be the ideal place to check-in for a night.  While it was on the more expensive side, there were a lot of amenities offered.  There was a large parking lot to park a car, champagne upon arrival, yoga, and hiking offered each morning, plus a pool to lounge around.  Not only was the hotel beautifully decorated, but the best part was the location!  Near many of the Sonoma vineyards and only a mile from the restaurants in downtown Sonoma.

 

Sonoma Wine Tasting – 4 Vineyards You Must Visit

 

Ram’s Gate Winery

28700 Arnold Dr. Sonoma, CA 95476

Hours of operation:  Thursday-Monday 1100-1800; Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Why choose Ram’s Gate? – If you’re looking for an elevated wine tasting experience in a fancy, yet homey, setting

If you only have time for a tasting at only one vineyard, Ram’s Gate would be the one to choose.  In a gorgeous setting, the building sits atop a hill overlooking their vineyards which seem to go on for days.  While the interior is beautifully decorated, there’s also patio seating for a good weather day.  Opened in 2011, Ram’s Gate largely produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  They also provide food so it’s a good winery to visit if you’re hungry.

Tasting experiences include:

“The Gateway Tasting” – $40/person

“Vineyard Designate Tasting & Tour” – $70/person

“Seasonal Pairings” a wine tasting plus 5-course prix-fixe menu – $140/person

“The Chef’s Table” also a wine and food tasting – $250/person

Please note that some of the tasting experiences offered above require reservations beforehand (707-721-8700).  Nobody under the age of 21 or dogs are allowed to visit.

 

Viansa Sonoma Winery & Tasting Room

25200 Arnold Dr. Sonoma, CA 95476

Hours of operation:  Sunday-Saturday 1000-1700

Why choose Viansa? – If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere with incredible views overlooking Sonoma

Created in 1989, Viansa is well known for its incredible 270-degree views overlooking the valley.  Like Ram’s Gate, a majority of wine coming from the Viansa vineyards in Sonoma are largely made up of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  If you’re tasting at Viansa expect a laid back and fun atmosphere where you can stand around the bar and taste wine or grab a table on their incredible patio overlooking Sonoma Valley.

 

Larson Family Winery

23355 Millerick Rd. Sonoma, CA 95476

Hours of operation:  Sunday-Saturday 1000-1700

Why choose Larson? – For a rustic, cowboy feel where dogs and kids are allowed to play freely

Located on the Sonoma Creek, Larson Family Winery is a different feel than the rest of the vineyards I visited in Sonoma.  Where there’s space for dogs and kids to run around play freely, where corn hole is set up to be played, and a huge outdoor patio, Larson is the place to go if you’re looking for a more laid back and relaxed atmosphere.  Larson is unique for having both an indoor and outdoor bar serving tastings, which makes it convenient if you want to hang out outside.  Back in the day space was once used as a Rodeo and was known as being the biggest Rodeo in Northern California.

 

Gloria Ferrer Wines

23555 Arnold Dr. Sonoma, CA 95476

Hours of operation:  Sunday-Saturday 1000-1700

Why choose Gloria Ferrer? – If you’re looking to taste Cuvée and Brute in an upscale atmosphere

With over 30 years of experience, Gloria Ferrer is known across the country for its sparkling wines such as Cuvée and Brut.  While the atmosphere seems a bit more stiff and stuffy compared to the other vineyards mentioned, a stop at Gloria is worth it strictly for the incredible tastes of their wines.  Sit out on the large patio or indoors with floor to ceiling glass windows as you enjoy your tasting.  Plus Gloria Ferrer allows dogs and serves light bites making it a good stop in the middle of the day.

Tasting experiences include:

“Tasting Experience” – $25-$35/person

Public Tours – $35/person

“Red Wines & Perfect Pairings” – $60/person

“Bubbles & Bites” – $60/person

“Tapas On The Terrace” – $50/person

“Glassware Exploration” – $45/person

“Gloria’s Wine Country Picnic” – $70-$80/person

Please note that the last seven experiences require a reservation (866-845-6742).

 

Tips For Planning Your Day

Call ahead!  Some vineyards offer private parties so call ahead to clarify what hours the tasting room will be open

When showing up close to closing time, keep in mind that last pours are typically poured well before the tasting room closes

If you’re using rideshare to get around the Valley make sure to plan for up to 20-minutes for an Uber or Lyft to pick you up

Make sure to plan around lunch – not all tasting rooms serve food

 

While there are hundreds of wineries to choose from for a Sonoma Valley wine tasting, the four listed above are some of the best wineries in Sonoma.  Each offering something uniquely different, I’d highly recommend spending a day (or more!) touring around Sonoma.  With sunshine, good wine, and incredible views – Sonoma Valley is hard to beat.

 


Are you interested in more wine experiences?  Look no further…

Woodinville Wine Tasting – The Best Tasting Rooms to Visit

Wine Tasting in Los Olivos – The Best Vineyards to Visit!

Santa Barbara Funk Zone Wineries – A Guide to the Wine Tasting Rooms

The Best of Fredericksburg – Wine Edition


 

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Kylee is a traveling Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse and an avid solo traveler. She has spent 5 years caring for premature and sick babies in the NICU and has been a travel nurse for 3 of those years. Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering as a nurse in Skopje, Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Since 2017 Kylee has made it a goal to go on one extended solo trip per year lasting 8+ weeks. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – A vacation geared towards nurses aiming to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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