A friend of a friend called recently asking for our help in planning an upcoming Girlfriends Getaway to Sonoma. The group of eight would be celebrating a milestone birthday for one of the women; they needed accommodations and suggestions for fun things to do in wine country. They ended up reserving four nights in our four Vintners Double Queen guestrooms at the Inn at Sonoma. Edie, our Sonoma expert extraordinaire and front desk innkeeper, put the following itinerary together for the group.
Wine Tours and Tastings
Tasting wine with girlfriends is fun and a must-do if visiting Sonoma. For a group of eight, consider booking a private wine tour, which would be customizable and the most economical option for a group your size. Intimate Wine Tours (www.intimatewinetours.com) is a good company for this. Their price would be around $85-$95 per hour with a four-hour minimum, and they can either design a tour for you, or customize a tour around places you might want to go. They would also be helpful if you want to visit more distant areas, such as the Russian River or Napa Valley.
For tours at individual wineries, there are two that we highly recommend:
Benziger (www.benziger.com) offers 45-minute tours which include a tram tour through their vineyard where they teach you about their wine production, and a tasting in their wine cave. It’s only $15 per person and a lot of fun.
Hanzell Vineyards (www.hanzell.com) offers a more exclusive 90-minute experience for $45 per person. This includes a ride through their vineyards where you’ll see amazing views. They teach you about the winemaking process, and you’ll get to taste their wines. Hanzell only makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and is one of the more prestigious wineries in Sonoma.
Some other wineries I’d recommend visiting while you’re in town are:
Petroni Vineyards (www.petronivineyards.com), which offers wine and olive oil tastings by appointment only for $25.
Eric K. James (www.erickjames.com), which is located within walking distance of Inn at Sonoma and offers casual, seated tastings for $10 per person, and occasional late night live music.
Bartholomew Park Winery (www.bartpark.com) has the best picnic spot in the area, located in in a vineyard with lots of tables and scenic views.
Olive Oil Tasting
If you are interested in doing a different kind of tasting, Figone’s (www.figoneoliveoil.com) specializes in house-made olive oils and vinegars. They do tastings every day in the town of Kenwood, which is about a 25-minute drive from Sonoma and located on a very scenic section of Highway 12.
We have a variety of good restaurants within walking distance of the Inn. Some that we like to recommend include:
LaSalette (www.lasalette-restaurant.com) makes excellent Mediterranean food.
Cafe la Haye (www.cafelahaye.com) is a Michelin-rated, American-style restaurant. Reservations are highly recommended, as they have limited seating.
Girl & the Fig (www.thegirlandthefig.com) is a very popular local spot that offers Country French cuisine. Reservations are also highly recommended, as they are very popular and book up quickly.
Maya (www.mayarestaurant.com) for Mayan-style Mexican food and great margaritas made with fresh ingredients rather than mixes.
Evening Farmers Market…
Guests visiting over a Tuesday should experience our evening Farmer’s Market in the Sonoma Plaza. It’s a great opportunity to bring a couple bottles of wine, stake out a picnic table, and get dinner and snacks from a variety of local vendors in food tents. The festivities start at 5:30 p.m. and go until dusk.
Ramekins, our local cooking school, is a fun experience. Check out their classes here or inquire about a private class for groups: www.ramekins.com/classes/hands-on-classes.
Sonoma Mountain Overlook Trail
After all that wine tasting and eating, your group might be ready to get some exercise. Why not try a short hike? There is a great view spot 1.5 miles up on the Sonoma Mountain Overlook Trail. While it’s uphill, it’s not an especially steep trail, so it’s good for people of all ages and fitness levels, and when you get to the top you can see all the way to San Francisco on a clear day. It’s also next to the picturesque historical cemetery where General Vallejo is buried.
A lot of people enjoy riding bicycles around the town of Sonoma. We even have a dedicated 1.5-mile bike trail that passes a park with bocce and petanque courts. Inn at Sonoma loans bicycles free of charge on a first come/first serve basis; however, we only have seven of them on hand. We do have two different rental places within a short walk of the Inn, and there is a tour company called Goodtime Touring (www.goodtimetouring.com) which can not only deliver bicycles to the Inn, but can guide you on a group tour of the city by bike.
I hope this information helps you plan your trip. If you have any specific questions or concerns, or if you would like any assistance making reservations, please feel free to contact one of our innkeepers. We look forward to assisting you in planning a fabulous trip to Sonoma Wine Country!