We love San Francisco (where we lived for five years) and Sonoma Wine Country ( where we got married.) There’s never enough time to do both on our weekend visits to the Bay area.
Our solution: find a way to visit all of our favorite Sonoma County wineries in a day trip from San Francisco.
Here are 7 steps to our perfect day in Sonoma Wine Country in 10 hours or less:
1. Find someone else to drive. Carlos from Wine Country Limousines arrives at our San Francisco hotel at 8:45am, and our group is quickly on our way in an 8-passenger stretch limo, stocked with water, sodas, and champagne. Sipping our coffees, we sit back and enjoy the glorious view as we head north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we hit Santa Rosa, it’s time for a toast to a promising day.
2. Make the farthest winery your first stop. Since most tasting rooms don’t open until 10 or 11 am – we start with the longest drive. Our first stop is Hanna Winery in the Alexander Valley on Hwy 128 near Healdsburg. Hanna’s tasting room is open 10-4 daily. We love their Bismark Mountain Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, plus Vixon, a tasty red wine with a fun label, and the winery’s famous Sauvignon Blanc. The tasting room offers sweeping, gorgeous views of vines and the valley. If we sound enamored –we are– since every visit recalls fantastic memories of our wedding reception at this location.
3. Call ahead for lunch. Leaving Hanna, we call our lunch orders into the Oakville Grocery just off the town square in Healdsburg. You can download their menu here and call in your order at 707-433-3200. By the time we arrive in Healdsburg, our sandwiches are grilled and ready, and we pick up other essentials — pate, cheese and chocolate. All food goes into the trunk, and we are off to the Dry Creek Valley, home to some of our favorite Zinfandels.
- 4. Experience a biodynamic vineyard at Quivira Vineyards & Winery, 4900 West Dry Creek Road. A quick tasting helps us choose a bottle of Grenache for to accompany our lunch at one of the tables in the colorful garden surroundings . After lunch, we tour the property, visit Ruby the Pig and buy more wine. Wild Boar Zinfandel is a favorite.
6. Try a cult wine (if you have called ahead and secured an appointment.) America’s best Zinfandel (and our favorit)e is from A. Rafanelli Winery, a fourth generation family winery at 4685 West Dry Creek Road. You must make an appointment ahead to receive a specific time slot. It’s worth the trouble – you can’t purchase this wine outside of the winery except for the wine list of a few top restaurants. This tasting room is not a stuffy; the Rafanelli’s are extraordinary farmers, wine-makers and tasting room hosts.
7. Make a last stop at a unique tasting room. Besides great wines, Ridge Lytton Springs, 650 Lytton Springs Road has a classy tasting room that is surprising constructed from straw. Read about it while tasting Ridge wines.
There’s time for another stop, but we are tired. We arrange for our purchases to be direct shipped to our homes. Now, it’s time to sit back, watch a movie on the limo’s DVD player, and perhaps take a little nap. Carlos has us back in downtown San Francisco before 5:30pm.
This perfect day focused mainly on Sonoma County Red wines. If we were focusing on a mixture of whites and sparkling wines, we’d have a different mix of favorite wineries.
We enjoy wine and exploring the world’s wine-producing regions. What Sonoma County wineries would you visit on your “perfect” day? Please share in comments.
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