Want a California wine vacation? Consider planting yourself in the town, or in a surrounding area, of Sonoma. It’s not just the wine and food that make Sonoma attractive. There is a sweet intoxication in the air, the light, and the plaza. Sometimes, driving the back roads of Sonoma, you feel as if you have travelled into a large, secret garden. A slice of paradise that floats slightly above the ordinary world. Of course, during the summer months in particular, there are crowds. But it doesn’t feel as crowded as other nearby wine destinations.
Sonoma, and neighboring Carneros, spreads out and gives you the room to relax. Sonoma, despite what you may have read, is not a mini-Napa. It is a particular world of its own, and it does not take a back seat to any other wine growing region in California. (The Sonoma Valley is called The Valley of the Moon. If possible, plan your Sonoma vacation during the time of a full moon. You may never have seen a moon so full and so golden, its light shining between rows of vineyards and olive trees.)
The Sonoma Valley is 17 miles long. The busy-ness happens around the towns of Sonoma, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood. If there is traffic on Highway 12 that makes you antsy, turn west on any road and you’ll run into the parallel road that is Arnold Drive, running north-south through the valley. If you drive south on Arnold, it will take you to Highway 121 straight into the Carneros region.
Break your trip into several themes. Spend one day exploring the trails and history that is the Sonoma Valley. Spend another day champagne tasting—between Carneros and Sonoma you’ll find 4 or 5 excellent offerings. Spend another on visiting historic wineries in Sonoma, tasting terrific reds and picnicking. (Or make your own bottle of red wine!) Another full day can be spent exploring the local art scene and doing some very unique shopping.
Sonoma is compact. She is perfect in many ways for an unforgettable California wine vacation. Give yourself plenty of time here, enough to learn her secrets. It is all about the mystery and the joy!