Sonoma Wine Tasting – The Best Wineries in Sonoma

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.  This is why I decided to head to Sonoma for some good Sonoma wine tasting!

 

Where is Sonoma?

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.

 

What Does “Sonoma” Mean?

“Sonoma” comes from a Native American word believed to mean “valley of the moon” or “many moons.”  This name is linked to Sonoma Valley in California, renowned for its wine production.  The exact origin and meaning of the word “Sonoma” can vary depending on different interpretations and sources, but it generally relates to the beautiful and serene qualities of the area. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and beautiful vineyards, Sonoma is a gem worth exploring.

 

How to Get to 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 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.

If you’d rather join a tour from San Fransisco to Sonoma, here are the best choices…

 

RENT A CAR TO EXPLORE SONOMA!

 

Where to Stay in Sonoma Valley

On my trip to Sonoma, I based myself in the centrally located hotel – The Lodge at Sonoma.  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!  The hotel is located near many of the Sonoma vineyards and only a mile from the restaurants in downtown Sonoma.

Other hotels I recommend in Sonoma include…

 

BOOK YOUR STAY IN SONOMA HERE!

 

Sonoma Wine Tasting – The Best Vineyards in Sonoma

Most of these vineyards are located in Sonoma itself.  But there are a few located in Healdsburg, which is located in Northern Sonoma County.  Healdsburg is a beautiful region in wine country and if you have the time, I would try to head north to visit if only for a tasting or two.

 

For a complete guide to visiting Healdsburg, don’t miss…

 

Aperture Cellars – Healdsburg

Aperture Cellars is an ultra-chic and modern tasting room that opened in July of 2020.  Its name comes from photography; an aperture is what lets light in through the lens of a camera.  The goal of Aperture is to shed light on what Bordeaux varieties can do in Sonoma.  Not only was the wine impressive, but the overall aesthetic of the winery is what drew me in and made me crave more time on the property.

 

Flowers Vineyards & Winery – Healdsburg

By far one of the most popular and best wineries in Healdsburg is Flowers.  Almost everyone who visits the area knows of the property and it comes strongly recommended.  As you’re guided outside you’ll see beautiful cabanas throughout the vineyard.  Uniquely enough, Flowers is known for more than just their wine, they are also well known for their food.  I highly recommend visiting Flowers to try both the wine and the exquisite food.

 

Gloria Ferrer Wines – Sonoma

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.

 

Ram’s Gate Winery – Sonoma

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.

 

Viansa Winery – 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.

 

Tips for Visiting Sonoma

Here are my best tips for visiting Sonoma and wine tasting in Northern California.

  • 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 Sonoma 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

 

FAQ

Q:  “How much are Sonoma wine tastings?”

  • This really depends on where you visit, but the average cost is $25-$35.  Some tasting fees are waived with the purchase of wine so make sure to inquire about this at each tasting room.

Q:  “Is Napa or Sonoma better for wine tasting?”

  • I don’t really think one is better than the other.  But I will say, Sonoma feels much less touristy and its a little bit more affordable.  However, I think that there are some bigger “names” in Napa.

Q:  “Do you need reservations for wine tasting in Sonoma?”

  • This depends on where you go.  However, to be safe – I would urge you to make reservations ahead of time.

Q:  “How many wine tastings should I do in one day in Sonoma?”

  • I usually recommend 3 wine tastings per day when traveling through wine country.  My ideal day would look like this… breakfast – wine tasting – lunch – wine tasting – wine tasting – rest – dinner.

 

California Essentials – What You Need & Need to Know About Visiting California

 

While there are hundreds of wineries to choose from for a Sonoma Valley wine tasting, the ones I 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.

 

Check out some more wine regions in the area…

 

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Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.  Passports and Preemies is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees.

 


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Kylee is a NICU nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee has been a NICU nurse for 9 years and a travel nurse for 7 years. Since starting her career in travel nursing, she’s worked in six different states, 10 different hospitals, volunteered as a nurse in North Macedonia, worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and has traveled to 45+ countries. Her favorite travel nurse assignment was in Seattle and her favorite destination is Georgia (the country). Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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2 Comments

  1. Katelyn Kemper
    January 2, 2024 / 4:34 pm

    Hi!!

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying your travel! You came up on the 2nd page of my google search for Sonoma wineries, which was really exciting to see but I also just wanted to let you know!

    I love seeing what you post on Insta and look forward to living vicariously through you lol!

    • January 3, 2024 / 5:25 am

      Omgsh Katelyn, what a great comment to wake up to!!! That makes me so happy, thanks for letting me know!!!! And have fun in Sonoma 🙂

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