Wine & Travel

Snooth User: jwarrick3

Napa and Sonoma

Posted by jwarrick3, Apr 7, 2015.


I will be flying into SF early next month and want to plan for 2 nights in Sonoma.  We arrive in the morning and will rent a car. We will plan to drive through Napa (visit a winery or 2) before heading to Sonoma. We will spend 2 nights in Sonoma and then head back to SF for 2 nights. Any recommendations on how our 2 day stay should be spent along the way is appreciated! I enjoy all wine and am not particular. I'd love to get a tour of a winery in addition to a tasting in both Sonoma and Napa.




Reply by outthere, Apr 7, 2015.

What part of Sonoma will you be staying in? It's a big County.


Reply by dmcker, Apr 7, 2015.

And what are you looking to do in San Fran?

BTW, OT has authored an excellent online guide to all sorts of resources in Sonoma, where he's based. If you post here the kinds of wines you like and experiences you're looking for he'll be able to provide you with some very spot-on pointers...

Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 7, 2015.

Here's a web site I built from our trip in 2013 that started in San Francisco and went up through Alexander Valley, Somona, Napa, Anderson Valley and Willamette Valley, ending in Portland Oregon.  You might find a few good wineries from the 20+ we visited.

Reply by jwarrick3, Apr 8, 2015.

Here is the area we are staying in. Also, we will have a rented car, but do you recommend using a taxi instead to go from winery to winery? How much time is typically spent at each winery if you do a tasting or if you do a tasting and a tour?  Thank you!

Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 8, 2015.

First, I recommend renting a luxury car, rather than just a standard sedan.  I mean, how often do you do this, so why not do it in style?  I don't mean a big Cadillac or limo, just a nice BMW or Mercedes or Lexus.  Second, the time spent at a winery will vary + or - 30 minutes due to potential crowds, but the tasting itself is about 15 minutes.  Several wineries do offer tours, but you need to arrive at the right time or make a prior reservation.  I wouldn't want to pay a taxi driver to wait around while I did a winery tour or even while I gulped down some wine.  However, we learned a few things such as (a) don't try to do a tasting at more than 3 wineries in a given day, (b) there is no coffee to drink at a winery so there is no quick way to sober up if you've had a bit too much (c) I don't remember seeing a Starbucks anywhere near the wineries, but there might be a few espresso stands near the grocery stores.

If you drive a rented car, you run a slight risk of being pulled over as the day wears on and you've been doing some tasting.  Ideally the driver should minimize the alcohol intake or 'pour' after a small taste.  I never liked pouring out good wine so I was running a higher risk.  Watch out for speed traps and other drivers that might have drunk a bit too much - I saw of few of those.  Overall, I don't remember seeing more than a few police cars in Napa or Somona, but along the coastal road (Highway 1 for instance), watch out for the California Highway Patrol and unmarked police cars.  

Reply by outthere, Apr 8, 2015.

Are you staying at the SMI? Lucky dog! Since you are staying in Sonoma proper maybe just hit some local wineries. Sebastiani has the history, gives tours, does pairings and it's just a couple blocks off Sonoma Plaza.

Out in the wine ghetto on 8th St East is Gundlach Bundschu or GunBun as the locals call it. Another historic site started in the 19th Century. Tours pairings, tastings. Also out that way is the new Tasting Salon for Patz and Hall. Higher end Pinot and Chardonnay.

If you like bubbles drive over to Domaine Carneros.

If Zinfandel is your thing give Ravenswood a visit.


There area ton of options out there and I chose a few easy ones for you based on popularity and history. You could always browse my Sonoma County Winery info page and see what else the area has to offer by town and activity. If you have any questions at all don't hesitate to ask.

Reply by outthere, Apr 8, 2015.

A day could be spent in and around the Russian River Valley as well. About 45-60 minutes West of Sonoma (depending on traffic.More laid back, scenic and hundreds of winery options.

Reply by MJET, Apr 9, 2015.

Food and wine paring at St. Francis is excellent! You'll need to make reservations. 

Reply by EMark, Apr 9, 2015.

An interesting tasting room that you can drop into without an appointment would be Enkidu.  They offer a variety of, in my opinion, interesting, well-made, fairly-priced wines.  I don't see Enkidu wines in retail stores very often.  So, I would think that this is the type of winery you would be seeking.  It I is located in DT Sonoma close to your lodging.  So, it can be used as a destination you use to "fill in" an hour, or so, in what will be your very busy schedule.

Also, though, please come back here and gives us a report on your trip.




Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 10, 2015.

I'd add just this:  There are some tasting rooms for smaller producers that don't have their own wineries.  Some are good, some not as good, and it's hard to go through them all.  But I recommend Steve Law's terrific St. Joseph-like Syrah at MacLaren.  Patz and Hall is great, too. I get nothing for endorsing them but good treatment and that nice corkscrew James and Anne gave me.

Have a great time, and don't forget to report back.

Reply by Really Big Al, Apr 10, 2015.

Food and wine paring at St. Francis is excellent! 

I totally agree.  Their chef knows his stuff and of course the wine is very good.

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