Navigating Wine Country: Sonoma Valley & Carneros

Navigating Wine Country: Sonoma Valley & Carneros

Planning a trip to the Sonoma Valley? Make sure to do your research and know the spots you want to hit because you’ll have plenty of options and lots of ground to cover! But not to worry for those of you who aren’t planners, we’ve made a list of our very favorite hot spots to make your day one to remember.

Beautiful Sonoma wine country lies just west of Napa Valley and offers up its very own wine country personality. Often considered the more relaxing of the two renowned California wine regions, Sonoma wineries represent a spectrum of tasting experiences, ranging from high-end and educational, to kick-back-on-a-farm style tastings!

As mentioned, Sonoma is a vast grape growing region and far too large to cover in even a couple days of tasting—it’s over an hour drive from Carneros on the south end, to Dry Creek Valley in the North, so this guide sticks to the lower half of the area which is considered Sonoma Valley and Carneros.

Viansa Sonoma

Outlook at Viansa Sonoma

Start your day early at the Summit of Sonoma for wines that are as delightful as the views. Perched high on the hilltop, Viansa Sonoma has a large patio overlooking 97 acres of wetlands where you can catch glimpses of egrets, darting swallows and rare tundra swans. Their distinctly Sonoma wines are crafted by winemaker Amy Ludovissy who makes a phenomenal Zinfandel, as well as multiple styles of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and more. The coolest part is that their wines are only sold at their winery, so you are truly getting a one-of-a-kind taste of Sonoma.

Viansa Sonoma also offers a variety of tasting experiences; belly up to the indoor bar and let a host guide you through a flight of new release wines, or reserve your very own private outlook nestled into the hillside for a truly unique tasting! Or, if you’d rather, you can order a bottle to sip and savor on the patio while you soak up the Sonoma sunshine and exceptional view. If you are feeling snack-y, grab a bit from their gourmet deli, or during the summer months, order a pizza from the outdoor wood fire oven.

25200 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA

The Girl and the Fig

Next stop, a delicious wine country lunch! Stop by the historic Sonoma square for a little window shopping and pop in to French meets wine country fare bistro, The Girl and the Fig. From seasonal salads, like grilled asparagus with strawberries, goat cheese and arugula, to main entrees like duck confit and potato gnocchi with bacon and fava beans, you’ll find something unique and instagram-worthy when you’re here.

If you are with a group, go in on “The Works” cheese plate, which is a gorgeous selection of cheese, cured meats, fruit, nuts and more! If you have a driver for the day, pair it with a bottle of one of their specialty Rhone wines, and you’ll be in heaven.

After lunch, you’ll probably want to take a look around the square, which has an abundance of restaurants and a number of tasting rooms within walking distance, but time is ticking! If you are staying for two days definitely plan to come back here, but if this is a one day adventure, you’ll want to get a move on to see more of the gorgeous Valley.

110 W. Spain Street, Sonoma, CA

Kunde Family Winery

View from Kunde’s Mountain Top

From the town of Sonoma, take Highway 12 to make your way up the valley to Kunde Family Winery. The family owned and operated winery has a fabulous tasting room with awe-inspiring greenery and water features on the patio.

If you are able to stick to a schedule, we highly recommend booking their Mountain Top Tasting. After a tour through their winery caves you are driven up the mountainside to a secluded patio high above the valley. The views are to die for and you can’t experience this kind of tasting anywhere else. Not to mention, Kunde winemaker Zach Long produces wines that are true to the terroir of the region and really captures the essence of each grape varietal, producing exceptional Sonoma wine.

9825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA

B.R. Cohn

B.R. Cohn tasting room surrounded by vineyards

B.R. Cohn Tasting Room

Last winery of the day: B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil Company. Founded in 1984 by Bruce Cohn, manager of Rock n’ Roll band the Doobie Brothers, B.R. Cohn has long been producing some of the finest Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The winery property is flanked by acres and acres of vineyards and is vibrantly plush from spring to fall. In early spring, dense mustard flowers line the rows of the vineyards which is quite a sight to see!

While here, taste through their selection of award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay and more at their wrap around tasting bar or on their outdoor patio. After buying a few bottles to take home (because you’ll just have to), stop in to the Gourmet Shop to sample their estate grown olive oil and some of their olive oil based products—perfect for souvenirs to bring home.

1500 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, CA

Glen Ellen Star

You’ve probably worked up an appetite from all that wine tasting, so be sure to end your day at the Glen Ellen Star. Make your reservation well in advance, and be prepared to savor the freshest of fresh that Sonoma Wine Country dining can offer. Glen Ellen Star mixes up their menu often, so you always get the season’s most fantastic produce alongside the likes of lamb, chicken, ribeye steak or whole roasted fish. The lively atmosphere and fantastic food are a great way to complete your day!

13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, CA

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