The ultimate wine country in the United States, Sonoma and Napa, is also one of the most glorious places on this earth.
Napa may be considered the king and queen of wine in some circles, but Sonoma creates wine every bit as delicious and varied. Napa and Sonoma are wine country neighbors, so it’s quite easy to visit both in one vacation. Although, you will probably want to return… Every season in wine country holds its particular wonder.
The Napa Valley is 30 miles long and, like Sonoma, it is an area of great contrasts due to its proximity to the San Francisco Bay, and the rising temperature as you head north. Napa has 15 quite distinct appellations with hundreds of wineries, ranging from new family wineries, small boutique houses, grand wineries that produce millions of cases each year, and historic wineries that grew up along with the state of California. Is the area busy? You bet, but head off the beaten path, and there are plenty of peaceful groves and meadows to enjoy local fare and a lovely picnic.
The wine country that is Sonoma really feels like several areas. The southern part of Sonoma includes the town of Sonoma, once the capital of the short-lived country of California. The enchanting Sonoma Plaza has great restaurants and several tasting rooms. There is nothing quite like a plaza to relax, people watch, and unwind. Carneros, Sonoma, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood, all in the south, have large, old vines and amazing parklands and tasting rooms.
The farther north you head into Sonoma County, the more laid-back you’ll feel. The Russian River is cool and ancient redwoods skirt the land. Look for champagnes and chardonnays. The Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley are warmer and produce rich reds. This area is home to historic vineyards, some over 100 years old and extraordinary wine caves. While you’re north explore the town of Healdsburg, the heart of relaxed chic.
There are as many appellations in Sonoma as there are in Napa. Wine Country is a state of mind, a dream waiting to happen. In a relatively small area it includes old growth and young vineyards. Artisan cheeses and fresh, local produce. The Pacific Ocean blows into the Russian River, while the San Francisco Bay billows through the southern part of Napa Valley. Wine country is lush forests, waterways, any kind of wine your heart desires, exploring, experimenting, living history with every step, redwoods, mountains, rolling hillsides, music and art. But mostly, Wine country is about the joy of life!