My husband and I recently traveled to the west coast earlier this summer to experience wine country for the first time and let me just say we were not disappointed. The land was spectacular with mountains upon mountains and rolling hills littered with luscious green grape vines with the sun always shining down on them. We were looking to travel somewhere to taste great wine and just enjoy the sunshine and some downtime by the pool. We stayed in Sonoma, which is often referred to as slow-noma due to it being slightly more laid back than Napa, but still with unbelievable wines and views. If anyone is ever thinking of making a trip to California, I strongly recommend spending a few days in Sonoma no matter what kind or how much wine you normally drink, you will not be sorry you stayed. Tip-we did rent a car in San Francisco (best airport to fly in and out of, and it was so convenient to have our own car to explore the area and drive to Napa for the day as well).
Kenwood Inn and Spa: We stayed here after me researching many, many hotels in Napa and Sonoma. We had previously thought of traveling to Italy this summer, but with time constraints it was not possible. Well enter Kenwood, a retreat that brings the feeling of Tuscany to Sonoma. It is a beautiful inn with 30 rooms for adults only. The grounds are filled with greens and flowers and the scent of rosemary and lavender. It is the perfect private retreat with luxurious rooms and spacious bathrooms. We were thrilled with our experience at the inn, and I will continue to highly recommend it to anyone staying in Sonoma. Tip-Kenwood is often featured on jetsetter.com where you can get great deals and discounts that include breakfast daily with your stay.
St. Francis Winery: this winery does an amazing wine and food pairing at lunch time. This was something we had never done before, but I gained a much greater appreciation and knowledge for how the wine flavors do change with what you are eating. It is a beautiful setting (every winery is really) with great food, a great host and chef, and great wine.
Chateau St. Jean Winery: this winery is wonderful for a wine tasting, but before or after your tasting, grab lunch and eat in the most spectacular gardens. It was so peaceful and if you didn’t know you were in California you might think you were in the French countryside. Perfect combination in my eyes.
Glen Ellen Star-great restaurant in the quaint town of Glen Ellen, smaller menu, but the selections are just right and it is a great atmosphere. You may want to eat here more than one night!
Girl and the Fig-this restaurant is in downtown Sonoma and features a unique menu with delicious French inspired cuisine. Take your time at dinner and savor each bite. This place will not disappoint.
Benziger-A spectacular winery that captures the essence of making wine and creating a simple farm setting a place you never want to leave. The winery is biodynamic so instead of spraying bad bugs that eat the vines, they bring in plants to attract good bugs, that get rid of the bad bugs-allowing nature to take its natural course. Take a tour of the winery and then sample their reserve collection in their wine caves-a truly memorable experience.
Matanzas-Great wine, but the main attraction here for me was the lavender gardens. As you are pulling up the drive way you instantly smell the aroma of lavender everywhere, which I loved. Enjoy strolling in the gardens and relaxing. The winery makes their own line of bath, home, and cooking products from their lavender and every product smells more heavenly than the next.
Kunde-The view from the top of this winery is breathtaking. And that is where you will have your tasting if you visit Kunde. Imagine sipping life changing Chardonnay and heart warming reds all while over-looking hundreds of acres of vineyards and catching a glimpse of the bay and San Francisco. Before you go to Kunde, check out the movie Bottleshock, which used Kunde to film their vineyard scenes (the movie is on Netflix). You will not want to miss this place.
Sugarloaf State Park-Beautiful park set up in the mountains of Sonoma. There are many trails to hike or run on for a quick 1, 3, or more mile jog. We ventured to the mountain early one morning (East coast time still) and were able to experience the sunrise and all it’s beauty had to offer.
Downtown Sonoma-A beautiful place with a town square and huge park in the middle. There are so many boutique shops to explore and plenty more wine tasting venues on every corner. Go on a Tuesday night when the farmers market opens at 5:30 pm and families flock to the square to set up picnic blankets, grab fresh produce from the farmers, and open a bottle of wine. Live music plays and your evening just doesn’t get much more simple and perfect.
If you are interested in taking a trip to wine country and would like more information please feel free to contact me, and I would be more than happy to share more travel tips and our adventures in Napa and San Francisco.