Looking for things to do Sonoma wine country? Here’s what to do, including the best wineries in Sonoma, restaurants, and more.
While we were in California on our book tour, Alex and I took a few vacation days between our stops in San Francisco and LA to do something very important: drink wine in Sonoma wine country. Our friends from Indianapolis flew in to join us on this very important quest. And it wasn’t just four adults: we had baby Larson in tow! At the time Larson was 14 months old, so we weren’t sure how visiting Sonoma wine country with a baby would go. However, we were pleasantly surprised that wine country was baby friendly. And really, Sonoma is everyone friendly.
Why Sonoma wine coutnry?
Napa vs. Sonoma wine country: which to pick? Eleven years ago, Alex and I visited Napa Valley. We knew nothing about wine, we just knew that Napa meant “fancy wine country.” So we went to Napa: and loved it. This time around, we decided to stay in Sonoma since we heard that Sonoma wine country is less commercial and touristy than Napa has become. We were there just 2 days, but we had more than enough things to do in Sonoma to keep us busy for weeks! We loved our stay and would heartily recommend Sonoma wine country.
Where should I stay in Sonoma?
Our Airbnb could win the ‘Cutest Airbnb on the Pacific Coast’ award. It’s called the Zen House and on some tree-lined land outside of the main strip in Sonoma. The entire aesthetic of the property was incredibly Zen: the architecture and design reminded me of when I was in Japan. Check out this living room! We saw both wild turkeys and deer outside the window on various occasions; it felt very peaceful and serene. (This specific Airbnb was not baby or toddler optimized, so we watched Larson constantly when he was awake. We’d recommend it for adult parties in a heartbeat, or people with very good toddlers.)
What are the best wineries in Sonoma?
So, of course you want to know: what are the best wineries in Sonoma? Far and away Scribe Winery was the favorite of any wineries we visited in Sonoma wine country. Tip: Though it’s more expensive, go for the culinary tasting with the wines! Instead tasting inside in the tasting room, you get to taste at the hacienda, a beautiful old home with an expansive patio. Imagine lounging at a table, sipping wine in the light breeze paired with incredible food: marinated olives, a crisp salad with blue cheese dressing and dill, whipped feta crostini with brocolli. The hacienda is just lovely and has a view right into the beautiful kitchen.
Make sure to nab a reservation before you go. Though Larson didn’t attend this one, there was a toddler on the patio that was around Larson’s age, so kiddos are allowed. Here are a few shots from Scribe Winery. In our opinion, it’s the best winery in Sonoma!
Some of the other best wineries in Sonoma…
Of the wineries we visited outside of Scribe, our favorite other wineries in Sonoma were:
- Benziger Family Winery: It’s a biodynamic winery, which is a hyper sustainable way of farming (like organic, but more rigorous). It has beautiful grounds. We did a tasting, and then grabbed a lovely crisp white and munched on some cheese and crackers that we brought.
- Imagery Winery: This one is a sister winery to Benziger, so it was also biodynamic. We had a tasting here and enjoyed a port & chocolate tasting too.
- Gundlach Bundschu: Referred to by the locals as GunBun, it has lovely grounds and great wine. Here we nabbed a bottle and sat by the lake, eating wine and cheese.
- Gloria Ferrer: This place we came especially for the champagne tasting. It was justok, but the views were stellar! Go here for great views.
Is wine country baby friendly?
Toting around a 14 month old isn’t necessarily the ideal way to hit up wine country. However, yes: wine country with a baby works! And we had a fantastic time with Larson in tow. We carried him in our LILLEBaby carrier, which is very comfortable to wear (and he loves being in it). With the carrier, he was free to nap when he was tired–which at this age he refuses to do in his stroller. It was also easier than a stroller since it’s not as bulky.
Are babies allowed in Sonoma wineries? Yes. Are babies allowed in Sonoma stand-alone tasting rooms? No. We tried taking Larson to a tasting room in the Sonoma city area and got shut down. Having a toddler around did make things a little more complicated due to nap times. Larson had one 2 to 3 hour nap during the day, so we had him go to the Airbnb with one of us. Since we were travelling with another couple, Alex and me would trade off on being at the Airbnb during nap time and the other person would go out with our friends.
So would we recommend visiting Sonoma wine country with a baby? In our experience, it worked great–though we have a pretty well-behaved baby (or really, toddler). If you have kids that are a bit older, it might be hard to occupy them in wine country. However, we’d love to hear from any of you who have experience visiting wine country with a baby or older children! Let us know in the comments below.
What are the best Sonoma restaurants?
Honestly, it was hard to find good restaurants in Sonoma! We had a friend who knew the area help us with recs, and we found less than we expected to write home about. Our favorite turned out being a traditional Mexican restaurant called El Molino Central. We got takeout and ate it on our Airbnb patio and it totally hit the spot.
Another thing we loved was getting picnic ingredients and eating at the wineries! Most of the wineries had outdoor areas where you could eat your own food, accompanied by some of their wine. A few times we brought along a bunch of cheeses, crackers, bread, olives, chocolate, and a few premade salads. Really, that’s the best meal around!
What about you: do you have any Sonoma restaurant recommendations?
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About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.