A guide to Exploring Sonoma's Wine Country in Northern California- where to eat, what to see, and what to do!
Last week I had the trip of a lifetime- not only did I get to do what I absolutely love and create some gorgeous content for La Crema Winery and Matanzas Creek Winery (my favorites!!), and I also got to learn a lot more about wine and how it's made, took in some amazing views, and ate tons of delicious food. I have a lot of posts coming about our trip- but I wanted to share a quick overview of my Sonoma County favorites!
Sonoma County is lovely and laid back- you see people dressed up or in jeans at even nice restaurants- and they get a lovely breeze during the day. It gets much hotter than San Fransisco, but the nights are nice and chilly. It's perfection!
Watch the Sun Rise in a Vineyard
Sunrise in the vineyards is one of the most beautiful sights ever. California's Sonoma County is often nestled in fog in the mornings, and when the fog rolls back the sun glows through tall trees and hits the vines in a way that makes them almost look like they are glowing.
There are a lot of trails and roads passing through vineyards- make sure you're not trespassing and then head out early to see the sun!
Last year my husband and I found a lovely Airbnb to stay at that was literally tucked into a vineyard- it was amazing watching the sun rise and set there! It is a bit further out from the action, but a gorgeous and serene place to stay just steps from the vines.
Stay Close to the Action
We hung out at our Airbnb a lot (which is were we ate a lot of the time- food shots coming soon!)- but how amazing is this space??
The loft we stayed in was right in downtown Healdsburg- which really can't be beat. Healdsburg is in Northern Sonoma County and feels a bit removed from the larger towns. It's quaint and beautiful, as well as full of wineries, art galleries, good restaurants, and coffee shops! Where to stay:
Loft in Healdsburg, United States. Welcome to The Loft! This modern and open space is only exceeded by its proximity to the downtown plaza(1 block) and all it has to offer: excellent restaurants, tasting rooms and lounges. The Loft offers a very open 3,400 sq. ft. layout, with 2 op... View all listings in Healdsburg
There are SO many options in Healdsburg, it is tough to pick!
One night we hit Healdsburg Bar and Grill for one of Food and Wine's best burgers in the US (it literally was the best burger I have ever had, ever, said from somebody who eats burgers on the regular), and tried out Bear Republic's burgers another night (also solid, and they have some wildly inventive burgers you won't find anywhere else!).
We HAD to hit up Healdsburg Bar and Grill for what has been named one of @foodandwine 's best burgers in America- and man, @douglaskeane knows his stuff! It was too dark for a good pic, but our burgers were amazing- juicy and packed with flavor! The chicharrones were perfectly airy with a slight citrus kick, and the garlic fries were so addictive! It is a cant-miss in Northern Sonoma County! #travel #travelblogger #foodie #foodgram #foodblogger
Brie and mushroom burger and garlic fries at @bearrepublic last night... Kind of obsessing over how good it was! #burger #foodie #foodgram #foodporn #instayum #travelblogger A photo posted by Courtney | Lifestyle Blogger (@sweetcsdesigns) on
We also headed to Dry Creek Kitchen for my husband's birthday. When I use to be a lobbyist, we'd often take our clients to Charlie Palmer's Steak House when in D.C.- so it was a great treat to go check out Dry Creek Kitchen. We went for the tasting menu, paired with wines that were all from Sonoma County. The meal was fantastic- though by the end we were a bit tipsy as we had just come from a tasting at La Crema's tasting room! Reservations are a must at Dry Creek Kitchen in summer- even in the middle of the week- the bar was completely full, and we watched numerous people turned away when they came without reservations.
More from @drycreekkitchen last night.... This ribeye duo with pastrami was to die for! Pastrami isn't something i crave often (or really ever), but this was amazing. Chef also was incredibly sweet and made slight changes to the tasting menu, and surprised us with some delicious birthday cannelles for my husband. #foodie #foodgram #foodporn #foodblogger #sonomacounty #travel #travelblogger A photo posted by Courtney | Lifestyle Blogger (@sweetcsdesigns) on
What to See
In one word.... wineries!!! There are so many winery options in Sonoma County, but my hands down favorite to visit is Matanzas Creek, near Santa Rosa. Call ahead and book the wine and cheese pairing- one of the best I've ever had!
Matanzas is a gorgeous winery- set in rolling hills and boasting a huge lavender field. The winery has a lovely lavender market where you can buy all sorts of lovely goods. The Kendall Jackson Wine Estate is another can't miss- especially their expansive culinary garden!
A photo posted by Courtney | Lifestyle Blogger (@sweetcsdesigns) on
If you're maxed on wine, head to Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa for some delicious beer! Pliny the Elder is the craft beer cult favorite- people line up before the brewpub opens just to grab a table and some pints. If you're set on eating and grabbing a table, plan on going before they open, especially friday-sunday. On a saturday morning we got there 15 minutes before opening and still had to stand in line for a while! If you want to bring some beer home with you, you can buy a case or two and ship them at BeerCraft in Rohnert Park for around $30. Totally worth it!