Explore Sonoma

Travel Sonoma Like a Local

Wineries, Stunning Coastline and World-Class Restaurants: Explore Sonoma County like a Local

  • Sonoma County is home to both the state’s oldest continuously family-run winery, Gundlach Bundschu, which was founded in 1858, as well as Buena Vista, California’s oldest commercial winery, which was founded the year before.
  • Sonoma County has a ghost town. Mercuryville once was home to thousands of miners. 
  • On Gravity Hill in Rohnert Park, an optical illusion makes it seem like cars in neutral appear to roll uphill on a section of Lichau Road.

The feature film Bottle Shock chronicles the “Judgment of Paris,” a 1976 blind wine tasting. The stunning win by Chateau Montelena Chardonnay with “buttery notes and a Smithsonian finish” from an unknown Napa winery put Northern California next to France on the world’s wine map and America’s Wine Country was born.

Sonoma: Just 45 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County covers more than 1,750 square miles, from the rugged Pacific Coast to vineyard-covered rolling hills for over 1,100 growers and more than 350 wineries.

With another 18 approved AVAs, California’s largest wine producer creates Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Zinfandels, Chardonnays, Sparkling Wines and more. Because of a friendly rivalry with its better-known neighbor, local shops’ T-shirts state, “Sonoma makes wine. Napa makes auto parts.”

Sonoma is a charming town with an historic square surrounded by restaurants, tasting rooms, galleries, shops, a California state mission from Mexican heritage days, and an acclaimed international film festival.

North is Healdsburg, featuring a similarly charming town square. A visitor favorite, this hamlet is nestled between the Alexander, Russian River, and Dry Creek Valleys — all with tasting rooms. The meandering Russian River offers canoes, kayak and stand up paddleboards — great ways to beat the summer heat. Montage is a fabulous new hotel and spa. Hotel Trio promotes a room service robot name Rosé. The Quail and Condor is a great new bakery. The Matheson houses three restaurants under one roof. The Harmon House has a roof terrace. And Revelshine produces premium wines packaged in recyclable bottles — brilliant!

Bodega Bay, better known from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, lies along the ruggedly attractive Sonoma Coast.

The oldest premium winery in Sonoma County is Buena Vista, founded in 1857, though grapes were planted as early as 1812 in Russian-settled Fort Ross.

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