Sonoma Wine Country Guide

The best the North Bay has to offer.

I don’t discriminate against any town in wine country. However, my absolute favorite and my true love is Sonoma! It’s much more chill and laid back compared to some of the other places in the North Bay.

It’s breezy, carefree, and elegant—with just the right amount of indulgent.

Wine Enthusiast just named Sonoma its #1 Wine Region of the Year, calling it “one of the most diverse and progressive winegrowing regions in the world.”

Cline Cellars
Sonoma Wine Country Guide

SONOMA WINERIES

Buena Vista – California’s first premium winery.

Flowers Winery – brand new, beautiful tasting room with outdoor cabanas and indoor tasting rooms.

Twomey – crafting Vineyard-Focused Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot from California to Oregon.

Gracianna – For Those With Something To Be Grateful For.

Cline Cellars – low key and family run and oriented winery focused on Zins and Chard.

HOTELS

Carneros Resort & Spa – luxury retreat with outtanding amenities.

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance – beautiful hotel a short walk away from Sonoma Square and a quick drive away from the wineries.

Sheraton Petaluma – is a great option because it’s centrally located minutes away from Downtown Petaluma, 15 minutes to Sonoma wineries and Sonoma square.

Best Western Dry Creek Inn Healdsburg – European looking hotels in Healdsburg located in a more rural area a quick drive away from wineries.

Timber Cove Resort – is a beautiful resort right on the coast in Jenner. It’s located about an hour away from the main Sonoma area but it’s a gorgeous romantic hotel.

 

Beyond the wine:

Drive to the Sonoma coast and explore Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay
Sonoma Wine Country Guide

About 45 minutes from Sonoma is a beautiful area called Bodega Bay, a west coast town that feels like you’re in Ireland. With fresh seafood, local restaurants, and a gorgeous stretch of the Pacific Coastline.

 

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The best of Sonoma Square

Sonoma County offers so many food and drink options to check out that it’s hard to see it all in one visit.

This guide is perfect for you if you want to visit the best tasting rooms and restaurants without even leaving the main square.

The Best of Sonoma Square:

  • Tasting Rooms

Lake Sonoma Winery offers Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet by the bottle as well as cheese boards and charcuterie.

Roche Winery offers daily tastings, indoor and outdoor wine tasting bars, light bites, and a shaded outdoor tasting patio with fireplaces.

The best of Sonoma Square
The best of Sonoma Square

Pangloss Cellars offers a private, more focused and immersive seated tasting accompanied by a local cheese and charcuterie plate for each guest.

Sigh serves Champagne & Sparkling flights (3 two ounce pours). No reservations are necessary, all space is first come, first serve.

Schug provides seated tasting of five Schug Carneros Estate wines including our Estate and Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases. 

  • Restaurants

El Dorado Kitchen offers California-inspired cuisine with a focus on the freshest farm- and ranch-raised ingredients and signature cocktails, all served in a relaxed-yet-refined Sonoma spirit.

The best of Sonoma Square
The best of Sonoma Square

The Girl and the Fig features a wonderful antique bar with French aperitifs, unique and traditional cocktails, an award-winning Rhone-Alone wine list, inventive French country fare, cheese & charcuterie platters, and outdoor garden patio seating.

Sunflower Cafe uses local, organic, fresh ingredients. Indoor, sidewalk & garden seating. Breakfast, lunch, wine, cocktails & espresso.

Tasca Tasca means tavern or pub in Portugal. Tapas (small shared plates) menu offers  snacking on a wide variety of delicious food while drinking unique wine.

B&V Whiskey Bar and Grille is Sonoma Plaza’s only brew pub, whiskey bar, and live music venue. B&V’s menu format is wine country inspired with farm to table elements, Italian and French influences, and good old fashioned BBQ and burgers.

  • Hotels

El Dorado Hotel offers amenities and charm of Sonoma wine country, with French doors leading to a private balcony with views of Sonoma Plaza or garden courtyard. The hotel includes as a stone courtyard for outdoor dining, a pool and an inviting fireplace lounge for private events.

Sonoma Hotel maintains its nostalgic charm, with a stone fireplace and antique Italian stained glass in the lobby. The accommodations include modern private baths, French country furniture throughout, original wine stave lobby chandeliers.

Swiss Hotel  has 5 beautifully appointed rooms with a view of Sonoma Plaza or the garden patio. All five rooms have access to the balcony overlooking the Plaza. King Rooms have private entries to the front balcony.

Inn at Sonoma features 19 well-appointed guest rooms in the main building and 8 newly opened guestrooms in the adjacent Vintners Cottage.

Ledson Hotel  offers six individually decorated guest rooms with antique grandeur and modern amenities.

Check out this article if you’re traveling with your pup and need a dog friendly accommodations.

Wine Tasting in Sonoma. Gracianna Winery.

Looking for a unique wine tasting in Sonoma?

Healdsburg is an amazing town with tons to do and see. In the main downtown area, you will find dozens of restaurants and tasting rooms. From formal experiences like JCB to laidback Banshee Wines and Bravas, a tapas restaurants, Healdsburg has a place for any taste and vibe.

However, our main mission in Healdsburg was to experience the Gracianna Winery, located on the Westside Road just 10 minutes away from the busy downtown.

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Gracianna is open from April to November and is famous for their pinot’s and bold zin’s. We were able to visit the winery for a private tour and tasting organized by the hospitality manager, Cyndee. Definitely a unique wine tasting experience, if you’re looking for one.

Greeted at the large Spanish doors, we were welcomed into the family house. I mean, who opens up their house to strangers for a wine tasting?! After a little Chardonnay, we met other guests and started the tour of the house.

The owners, Trini and Lisa, led the tour and shared all special details about the house they had built from the ground up. Without giving out too many details, I’d say that everything in the house has a special story and meaning. Spanish doors, mirrors, windows, art… everything put together with such love and care.

Wine Tasting in Sonoma

The winery is names after Trini’s grandmother, Gracianna, who taught him to be grateful. For everything.

The wine tasting included 5 wines starting with chardonnay, 3 pinot noirs and a Zin. The funny story about how they got into the wine business is that their son secretly started making wine in their garage, as a 15 year old, 20 years ago.

Moreover, they also offer a loft for rent that you can find on AirBnB. You will have full access to the vineyard while enjoying your stay at Gracianna.

Gracianna is a must see tasting room for a unique and low key wine tasting in Sonoma. Enjoy!

“For Those With Something To Be Grateful For”

Gracianna Loft

Gracianna

Dog Friendly Wineries in Sonoma

Dog Boarding in Sonoma County

Planned a trip and now you’re not sure what to do with your pups?

Finding the perfect dog boarding can be a stressful task. I know it’s difficult to leave your dogs alone. Especially if you’re leaving for more than just a couple of days. I’m so protective of my dogs and just can’t trust a random stranger to take care of them.

Have large dogs or behavioral problems?

I have two large dogs. One is a 3 year old German Shepherd that isn’t as social as many  other dogs, so for him I had to find a “private” room. My other dog is a year old Shepherd mix rescue and has severe separation anxiety. Definitely not an easy pair to take care of for a stranger.

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So here’s my top two dog boarding options in Sonoma County:

I came across two amazing ranches in the area and as soon as I reached out to them, I knew they would be perfect for the job.

Dairy Dell Ranch is a fun place for your dogs to live at while you’re away. They have a great selection of “room” options. For example, we chose the “Miss Kitty’s” Private Suites. This type of stay features at-will access to a private room or spacious outdoor run. A comfortable bed, heating and air-conditioning. How great is that?!

Another thing I loved about Dairy Dell is that they offer complimentary day to see how the dogs are acting at the ranch to make sure they get the best care possible.

Moreover, Dairy Dell also offers a variety of trainings, swimming in pool, farm walks, brain games and agility training. Located on a farm in Petaluma, it’s easily accessible.

https://www.dairydell.com/dog-boarding-training-services/sonoma-county-dog-boarding/

Another great dog boarding place in Sonoma is the Four Paws Pet Ranch in Santa Rosa. They offer a variety of pet boarding options including private room for less social pups.

Four Paws also supports great causes. For instance, a portion of all proceeds support Countryside Rescue, a non-profit rescue and adoption center based at the ranch.

Similar to Dairy Dell, you can opt for a private suite for your dog. Family dogs can stay together to avoid anxiety and stress.

Both places allow you to bring the food your dogs love or you can use the food provided by the ranch. My dogs are on strict raw diet (Stella and Chewy) and they are able to keep it refrigerated and fresh for them.

Four Paws Pet Ranch

Luxury Hotels in California Wine Country

CALISTOGA RANCH

My husband I absolutely looooove traveling and exploring new hotels and restaurants. And it’s doesn’t hurt that we live in such a beautiful part of California.

You know, I’d book a stay in Sonoma any chance I get.  But as much as I love planning and organizing things months in advance and knowing exactly what we are going to do and see, I also don’t say no to spontaneous trips if there’s a to die for deal. That’s exactly how I ended up staying at the best two hotels in the North Bay.

After the horrible fires in Sonoma in 2017, many local businesses started to offer specials to promote and help local businesses and residents. Calistoga Ranch Resort was offering a limited amount of rooms with 2 nights for 1 special. There was no way I’d say no to staying in a top 10 hotels in the world for half the price. We booked the Deluxe Lodge to spend Christmas in a romantic and unique setting.

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Calistoga Ranch is one of the Auberge resorts and is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been to in California. They have 50 freestanding 1 and 2 bedroom cottages which include private indoor/outdoor lodging areas, hot tubs, outdoor rain showers, fireplaces and other amazing amenities.

At check in we were offered a upgrade and ended up in a stunning 1 bedroom Bay Forest Spa Lodge.

It’s a private cottage tucked away in the middle of the redwoods with an outdoor jacuzzi on the patio, indoor/outdoor living space with firaplaces, separate bedroom and large bathroom with a large tub and an outdoor rain shower (that was Shawn’s favorite amenity). If all that isn’t enough, Calistoga Ranch is also dog friendly so our German Shephard was provided with his own food bowls, bed and treats. I’m sure he had the time of his life smelling things and running on the trails.

We were also offered a complimentary bottle of champagne, treats and fruit. The whole stay was like a dream. The attention to detail, care and friendliness is out of this world. My favorite thing about this resort is that isn’t not only romantic and secluded but it also offers private hiking trails, world class restaurant, wine caves, and many other amenities to keep you busy exploring the land.

Bonus points: you can borrow a killer Benz to drive around for a day. What?!

The prices range from $800 to thousands of dollars but I can honestly say, it’s so worth it is you’re looking for a luxury experience and want to be treated like royalty.

FARMHOUSE INN

How did we end up staying at this one? To be honest, too much wine tasting at Korbel and La Crema. But again, I got really lucky with randomly checking their website and saw a deal I coudn’t say no.

After a long day of wine tasting in the area, I didn’t really want to go back home. Farmhouse was having a special and we ended up booking a room and checked in minutes later.

It was a random rainy Wednesday in the North Bay and the hotel wasn’t full, lucky us. We checked in and were shown around the resort. Again, the quality of service and attention to detail here is unbelievable. We stayed in the King Cottage Suite which offers a sauna (OMFG), fireplace, bathtub with jets, and private outdoor lounge area.

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The restaurant is Michelin starred and has amaaaaazing food. Your room service comes from the same kitchen too. Pizza delivered to your room and it has a Michelin Star? Why not.  They also host nightly wine tastings for all guests. On the night we were there, we had the chance to have a private tasting and food pairing with Castello di Amorosa. It was definitely a highlight. Getting to speak with a somm from the winery, enjoy the wine and food… We even got a bottle to take with us back to the room.

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Other amenities you can enjoy at the Farmhouse include an amazing pool, spa, beautiful garden and sitting area, and skin care shop.

Both Calistoga Ranch and Farmhouse are so unique in their own ways but the quality of service and amenities are the best part about both resorts. I would go back in a heartbeat. If you’re looking for a special retreat to enjoy the nature and best things the North Bay has to offer don’t wait to check out Calistoga Ranch and Farmhouse Inn.

Silver Oak Cellars Food & Wine Pairing

A quick summary of the amazing tasting experience my fiancé and I did for his birthday back in July.

Silver Oak is one of the best wineries in Napa county that specializes in Cabernets. We wanted to do something more interesting than just a wine tasting so we opted for the wine and food pairing experience.

Not going to lie, I expected a simple cheese and meat selection, maybe a main course… BUT the experience we received was so much more.

We got there about 15 minutes early and were greeted by our amazing host. She asked us to browse for a bit since we were waiting on 2-3 more couples to arrive. At 11 o’clock, she asked us to meet her at the tasting station to start with our first pour. She didn’t make anyone wait for the people that were late and we went right into the tour. We learned a lot about the history of the winery, the owners, their processes and culture.

After a little tour, we went upstairs for the actually food pairing. We were seated in a large rustic room decorated with black and white photos of the people who work there. The winery definitely seems like a family run operation and feels comfortable and inviting.

The chef presented us the first course  – Hamachi Crudo. Amazing start! Complemented by Twomey Sav. Blanc.

Cauliflower Risotto – not usually my thing, but it was delicious. Paired with Twomey Pinot.

Followed by A5 Wagyu steak which was my first time trying this grade of steak. Juicy, melts in your mouth… I will never forget. The steak was paired with two of their Cabs – 2013 Alexander Valley and 2013 Napa Valley.

For dessert, we had an interesting take on a classic cream brûlée made with gouda cheese. Again, couldn’t get enough.

The tasting menu is seasonal and I am very excited to go back for a different experience. Perhaps this winter?

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Crudo
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Risotto
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Steak
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Gouda cream brûlée
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Wine selection

 

 

 

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Wine Cellars
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Tasting Room

 

#LifeisaCabernet

The Pelican Inn

Do you ever feel like getting away from everything and everyone to clear the head? Find inspiration? Set new goal for yourself?

Well, one of my go to places when I need some space is The Pelican Inn located next to Muir Beach. It’s a small English castle with an authentic English pub, bed and breakfast, and beautiful lawn.

It has a relaxing atmosphere, friendly service, pretty views and comfort food. My favorite is the beef stew. They have dinner service as well that has more options.

After a nice cup of soup, I love walking around the lawn watching  the horses roam around at the ranch next door.

I definitely recommend this spot for anyone who loves architecture, food, beer, and authentic experience.

Just keep taking chances and having fun. Garth Brooks