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

Wine & Food Pairing Experiences in Napa Valley

Planning a trip to Napa, California? With a breathtaking coastline, enchanting redwood forests, picturesque rolling vineyards, and a world class wine country, Napa County reigns supreme as one of the best wine countries in the world to visit, any time of year.

We’ve summarized the best wine and food pairings in the Napa Valley for you below, so prepare to drool. A lot.

Silver Oak Cellars specializes in Cabernets and is one of the best wineries in Napa county. If you’re tired of regular wine tastings and looking for a more elevated option check out the wine and food pairing experience.

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It’s not just a cute charcuterie and wine, food pairing at Silver Oak are a full on meal and wine event where you are treated like the one that matters.

The experience starts with a little tour of the winery and it’s history. Silver Oak is a family winery with a fascinating story. Then you”ll be escorted to the private dining room where you’ll meet other guests. We learned a lot about the history of the winery, the owners, their processes and culture. The decor is very elegant and rustic. It is inviting and comfortable just like the winery staff.

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The menu is seasonal so I’ll do a summary of the pairing we had:

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

 

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

 

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Followed by A5 Wagyu steak which was my first time trying this grade of steak. Juicy, melts in your mouth… This steak alone worth doing this tasting. The steak was paired with two of their Cabs – 2013 Alexander Valley and 2013 Napa Valley.

 

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

 

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On the other hand if you’re more  into bubble vs reds, Domain Carneros is a must in Napa and offers a great food pairing events.

THE ART OF SPARKLING WINE PAIRING: BUBBLES & BITES  is an hour champagne and food pairing led by one of the Domain Carneros’ sommeliers. This pairing is influenced by Asian flavors which is a rare combination and something I did not expect to see. However, once presented, it made perfect sense and went amazingly with the champagne.

 

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This menu is also seasonal and will differ based on availability and chef’s decisions.

Bay Scallops with Yuzu Sauce is a flavorful bite and a great start to the tasting. It brings out the champagne. Yum! Paired with Ultra Brut… so crisp and refreshing!

Spring Roll with Daikon, Mango and Mint paired with Estate Brut Cuvée is a fun take on a basic spring roll. Very unique!

 

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Ahi Tuna Poke with Brut Rose is an excellent way to elevate the tuna and make it fun.

Soba Noodle and Chicken Salad paired with Demi-Sec is the most unusual combination in my opinion but such a classy way to paired the two.

 

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And finally, the Green Tea Pudding paired with the same 2014 Vermeil Demi-Sec. The pudding is definitely the highlight of the tasting and a great closing note.

 

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Both wineries offer an amazing experience and will take a great care of their guests. Check out the options they offer if you’re looking for a new date idea, special celebration or just a fun day out in the wine country. xoxo

Dog friendly wineries in Sonoma

PAIR YOUR FAVORITE THINGS – VINO AND PUPPIES.

Love to travel and enjoy wine, but not sure if you dog can come with? Below is a list of the top 5 wineries in Sonoma where you and your pup will have a fabulous time. 

 

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CLINE CELLARS. This family owned winery has a special place in my heart. This is there Shawn and I got engaged and then married a year later. This is where our first child, our German Shepherd, Dago, came for his first Sonoma adventure.

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Located on Arnold, Cline is a small, casual winery that is family and dog friendly. They offer multiple tasting rooms and multiple large picnic areas where you can enjoy the wine and a snack. You can do a tasting in one of the designated areas or purchase a bottle to enjoy outside. While they don’t have a deli or food service, there is a fridge with cheese, meat and sandwiches for purchase. You’re welcome to bring your own food in as well.

If you’re into walking tours and history, Cline offers multiple tours during the day, some of which include the Mission museum and adobe chapel. There’s a lot to do for any kind of wine drinker – relaxing on the grass, winery tours, and even donkeys! Yes, they have two donkeys that live on site. Pudding and Fancy!

There’s a lot of room for your dogs to walk around (on leash, of course). Our pups love to explore the orchard and look at the donkeys. You can find water bowls around the property to make sure your pets don’t get thirsty. The property is so large that you don’t have to worry if other dogs are too close to you or if there’s a problem with sitting. It’s one of the best places to come if you want more room for your dog(s) without having to deal with other dog owners. 

They recently installed outdoor cabanas on the big lawn. I can’t wait to come for a visit when they’re ready! It’s a perfect way to spend the day enjoying wine and good company. 

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VIANSA. Located just minutes south of Cline, Viansa is another spectacular winery you should visit with your pooch. Sitting on a hilltop, you will take in 270° views of Sonoma from the private “outlooks” and picnic areas. 

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Just off of Arnold Drive, this upscale property is visible as you drive by so you won’t miss it. They offer multiple tasting options, cabanas and of course dog friendly outdoor picnic and sitting areas. Unlike Cline, they do have their own market place with lots of great options, though outdoor food is not permitted. They also serve wine by glass in case you’re there for just a quick stop and don’t won’t to get a full bottle. (That would be a waste though). 

You won’t be able to take a tour of this winery or property, however they offer a variety of interesting wine tastings including a fireside tasting and outlook tastings. 

From my experience, the picnic tables can get pretty crowded so if you have a pup that’s not so good in a busy space, I recommend coming here on an off day (earlier in the day and weekdays). That way you get the private experience and your dog will be happy to be their own. 

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I highly recommend Viansa for an upscale wine experience that is still dog-friendly, affordable and memorable.

 

 

ROCHE. This winery is so different from the other 4! Located right in Sonoma square, it’s a small tasting room with large outdoor space. It’s a must visit on a day out in town. Roche is family owned and operated since 1982 and you can feel the amount of care they put in when you visit. 

I love visiting Roche, after some walking and shopping in the square. It’s so convenient to pop in for a glass or bottle, chat with the staff, and have your dog hang out and people watch. The outdoor area fits about 60 people so you don’t need to worry about seating or making your dog claustrophobic. 

They offer multiple tasting options and my favorite is the Family Tasting which includes 6 wines which you can pair with hand-selected cheeses and meats from the deli. Yum! You can also purchase bottles to go to enjoy on your own. 

I recommend Roche for casual vibes, get togethers, outdoor lounge, good wine and nice people. 

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GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU is one of the oldest family owned wineries in Sonoma. It’s located on the Napa/Sonoma border making it a very convenient spot to go to. The Rhinefarm is a huge property with multiple picnic area, pond, walking paths and many more. 

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Gun Bun offers amazing tours for any personality from estate tour to an offloading experience on Pinzgauer – an Austrian made military vehicle. How fun is that?! Very unique and exciting adventure. They also offer a cave tasting, a vista courtyard tasting if you’re looking for a romantic experience or a club lounge tasting. 

Well behaved dogs are welcome and must be on lease. Again, there’s plenty of outdoor space for the pups and humans to feel comfortable and relaxed. 

This winery is laid back and relaxing with a classic California vibe. With open picnic table seating by the pond or vineyard side lawn space, Gun Bun is the perfect spot for a spontaneous visit with fur friends to chill and take in the views and wines at your own pace. 

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LANDMARK. Last but not least, Landmark Winery has two locations – one in Sonoma and one in Russian River.  Both location have gorgeous lawns and picnic areas perfect for a day with the family and dogs. 

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Landmark winery has a wide variety of local cheeses, charcuterie and accoutrements available for purchase in their tasting rooms. Guests are welcome to bring their own picnics, however no outside alcohol is allowed on the premises. There is no cost for admission, just a minimum wine purchase of $25 for each adult.

Some of the really cool tours you can do at the Landmark include a horse-drawn carriage tour which takes 3 hours and estate viticulture practices, winemaking techniques, and Sonoma wine history. 

 

I hope you look into these amazing Sonoma wineries and take your favorite pup on an adventure. Sonoma County is such a warn and cozy area and everyone should spend at least a day there to see some of the dog friendly wineries.  

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

 

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