Take A Weekend Break at Sonoma's Wine Country!
For an exceptional fall getaway, follow scenic two-lane highways to the incomparable Sonoma Valley, nestled on the eastern edge of Northern California's Sonoma County. With fewer visitors on the roads and the gentle perfume of fermenting grapes in the air, autumn makes an ideal time to sample Sonoma's beauty and abundance.
Explore Sonoma Valley from south to north, feel free to reverse the direction, and to pick and choose from these activities to create your perfect weekend adventure.
For a morning nosh before settling in for some serious sipping, nibbling, exploring, and relaxing, pick up coffee and a breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito at the Carneros Deli, at the intersections of highways 121 and 116. Here, sparsely wooded, windswept hills rise above a wide, flat plain, creating broad vistas and fertile home for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sparkling winegrapes.
For a bird's-eye view, go aloft in a vintage biplane at the Sonoma Valley Airport (also known as the Schellville Airport) where the Vintage Aircraft Company offers air tours.
Get an up-close look at grapevines in autumn, take the free self-guided vineyard tour at Schug Carneros Estate Winery. Check-in at the tasting room for a map of this half-mile trail through rows of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir winegrapes.
On Highway 12 to the town of Sonoma, park your car in the center of town and stretch your legs in the eight-acre Sonoma Plaza, the largest town square in California. Sonoma State Historic Park offers several sites around and near the plaza, including Mission San Francisco Solano, the 21st and northernmost of the California missions. Shopping, nibbling, and sipping more your style? You'll find an intriguing variety of stores, galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants ringing the plaza. On the east side of the Plaza the Basque Boulangerie Café offers mouth-watering sourdough and sweet French bread, pastries, baked goods, and a light breakfast and lunch menu.
Drop-in at Oso Sonoma, where fans rave about the deviled eggs topped with fresh crab or braised short ribs with gouda polenta. For the ultimate Oso experience, enjoy the five-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.
You can explore downtown Sonoma on your own, but if you'd like a more focused approach, both Sonoma Food Tour and Gourmet Food and Wine Tours-Sonoma offer guided walking tours, giving you an insider's understanding of the town's history, architecture, and inner workings, while sampling its delectable food and wine.
You can also follow the signposts pointing the way to the area's many wineries. Just a few blocks east of the Plaza, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery has been crafting wines for more than 100 years. Two miles farther east, you'll find Buena Vista Winery, founded in 1857. This carefully restored historic winery includes a unique wine tool museum.
Artisan Wine Tours offers highly customized luxury excursions for wine and culinary enthusiasts, working primarily with couples or very small groups.
Hop aboard the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley(a hand-built replica of an 1890s San Francisco cable car), with a top-notch sound system and on-board refreshments) for a six-hour field trip to top wineries.
On Sonoma Plaza, the girl and the fig presents innovative country food with a French passion. The Santé Restaurant at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn uses freshest local produce, meats, poultry, and seafood to create elegantly simple dishes that let the flavors speak for themselves.
Hopmonk Tavern, Murphy's Irish Pub and Olde Sonoma Public House all typically feature live acoustic music and a variety of brews in relaxed atmospheres. Catch blues, country, and Americana musicians performing in the cozy Sonoma Speakeasy. On Highway 12 several blocks west of the Plaza, Starling Bar Sonoma offers classic cocktails and craft beers in a casual, friendly setting. Enjoy a quiet nightcap in the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.