California’s wine country has been on our bucket list for as long as we’ve loved wine (that’s a very long time, for those of you keeping track). When we started planning the big California road trip Napa was an itinerary must, but after doing a little research (and budget planning) we thought the smaller, more laid-back Sonoma might be a better fit. Like all important decisions, this one was made over a bottle of wine – and boy were we right.
We loved Sonoma as soon as we saw it. We arrived mid-afternoon with just enough time to explore the tiny (but charming) town square before dinner. The streets are lined with galleries, shops and, of course, wine tasting rooms. Many wineries have storefronts in town to catch the wandering tourist – our favourite was the Roche Winery Tasting Room located just off the square. The wine at Roche is delicious and, as with everyone we met in Sonoma, the people are positively delightful. Seasoned wine drinkers at the relaxed outdoor bar welcomed us warmly and fed us with the kind of tips only locals can give, between glasses of crisp white wine.
Our only full day in Sonoma started at Wine Country Cyclery where we rented bikes and picked up a map for a self-guided wine tour. We rode down country roads past incredible farm houses, beautiful barns, and wide open fields and stopped at a handful of wineries along the way. The highlight was Scribe Winery, a turkey farm-turned-winery perched on the top of a hill. It was also the only place we pulled out the camera, so all the pictures featured here were taken at Scribe! Unlike most wineries, Scribe doesn’t just line you up at bar for a 10-minute tasting, and for that reason they require appointments – we found this out the hard way, but they let us in anyway. Their tasting room is their yard, scattered with picnic tables and roamed by farm dogs, and the tasting experience is extremely intimate. We were surprised at how much time our sommelier spent sitting with us, explaining not only the wine but the history of the vineyards and the valley. We must have spent over an hour tasting and talking, soaking up the California sun – it was well-worth the higher-than-average tasting fee.
There’s no better way to end a perfect day than with a perfect meal. When in Sonoma go to Sondra Bernstein’s restaurant the girl & the fig for a dinner you won’t forget. Be sure to make a reservation – the inventive cocktails and plats du jour attract locals and tourists by the truck load. We won’t dare suggest what to order because the seasonal menu frequently changes, but we will confess that we still think about the chicken. And the steak. And the mussels…
The Sonoma Creek Inn was the perfect place to stay for our short two-night stay. The cute boutique hotel has comfortable rooms and accommodating staff, and it’s just a short drive from town. We can’t wait to check in again for another weekend in Sonoma.