7 Travel Planning Tips for Sonoma County Wine Country

Capo Creek Winery

Here are 7 travel planning tips to help you plan an amazing trip to Sonoma County wine country. We hope that you enjoy Sonoma wine country as much as we do and that these tips help you plan an amazing and unforgetable trip.

1.) Plan in advance by hiring a driver.

It’s important to make reservations in advance for hotel accommodations, wine tasting reservations, and transportation for your wine tour. Also, plan ahead for any bucket list activities such as a hot air balloon ride. At Windsor Wine Tours, we custom curate your perfect Sonoma wine adventure. We provide Healdsburg Wine Tours, Sebastopol Wine Tours, Sonoma Wine Tours, and wine tours anywhere in Sonoma County.

You can easily make reservations to wineries by going to Explore Tock or making reservations through the winery’s website. If you book through us, we can provide you with an insider’s perspective into the best wineries in Sonoma County. Whether you are looking for wineries with beautiful views, intimate tasting in private homes, or finding hidden gems with exceptional wines, we have what you are looking for and custom tailor the experience to your wine preferences, budget, and the wine experiences you are looking for.

Black SUV at Medlock Ames Estate Winery
Windsor WIne Tours SUV

2.) Plan on going to 2 or 3 wine tastings per day.

It is recommended to limit wine tastings to no more than 3 wineries in one day. This allows you plenty of time to enjoy the wine, the views, and the experience at each of the wineries that you visit.

This way you can spend quality time enjoying amazing wine at your tasting appointments and less time in the car. In most cases, plan to spend about 1 ½ hours at each winery. When you book your reservations on Explore Tock or the website, they will likely share how long the experience is expected to last so you can plan accordingly.

Some people also choose to have a sit-down lunch and with one winery in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you would like to book three wineries in one day, it’s important to make sure you plan enough time for lunch.

sebastopol wine tours
Black Kite Cellars at Jasper House

3.) Leave room for spontaneity.

When visiting Sonoma County, there is so much to do so make sure to also leave some room for spontaneity in case you want to make a last-minute trip to visit Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, ride in a hot air balloon and soar above the vineywards, visit a wine tasting room near your hotel or vacation home rental, and/or take a drive out to the Sonoma Coast to have a picnic on the beach.

You may also want to stroll the downtown area, going hiking, go shopping for gifts for yourself or others, or enjoy a spa day. There is really so much to see and do in Sonoma County.

Fleur Sauvage Chocolates in Windsor (Courtesey of Fleur Sauvage)

4.) Consider what types of experiences you want to have.

It’s important to think about what experiences you want to have. Some people want to stay at a hotel that is centrally located to be close to wineries, restaurants and shopping, while others want a vacation home where they can relax and enjoy time with those they love in their own oasis.

The same is true for wineries. Some people want to visit well-known and more popular wineries while others want to visit boutique, family-owned wineries that are off the beaten path for a more intimate and personal experience. Others may want a specific type of winery experience such as a wine and food pairing to have an elevated wine experience.

Consider the types of wine you like when selecting an area to go wine tasting. If you are a Zinfandel zealot, you love Dry Creek Valley. If you are a Pinot lover, you will enjoy Russian River Valley, Los Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Green Valley, and many other AVAs. For Cabernet Sauvingnon lovers, you will enjoy Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill. There is so much more variety in the types of wine you will taste compared to Napa Valley, which is one of the many amazing things about Sonoma County.

Square Peg Winery in Sebastopol

5.) Consider what airport you want to fly into

Flying into San Francisco (SFO) is likely more affordable and has more options as far as flights. However, flying directly into wine country’s Santa Rosa (STS) airport is much more convenient and saves a lot of driving time to and from San Francisco, especially with traffic.

As you can see on this map below, Santa Rosa is very centrally located and a great launching off place to visit many of the amazing wine country AVAs in Sonoma County. If you fly with Alaska Airlines into Charles Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, you can ship a case of wine for free with their Wine Flies Free Program.

Sonoma County Map (Courtesey of Decanter.com)

6.) Consider what time of year you want to visit.

People love to visit wine country at different times of the year for different reasons.

Winter offers fewer crowds, a more personalized experience at wineries, it’s a slower pace, and seasonal specials make this time of year more affordable to visit wine country. You may also see mustard fields.

Spring offers beautiful and lush vineyard, witnessing bud break, enjoying the blooming flowers, and lots of amazing events.

Summer offers amazing weather, beautiful views of the vineyards, and plenty of events that you can attend.

Fall is when harvest season is in full swing and it’s an exciting time to watch the changing colors of the vineyards. You may also witness the grapes being picked and brought to the winery for production.

Alexander Valley

7.) Consider wineries that are relatively close to one another.

In referencing the map above, you can see that there are several different AVAs throughout Sonoma County. For that reason, it can be helpful to choose wineries in the same AVA (ex. Alexander Valley) and if you are staying a little longer, explore more than one incredible wine region on your trip to Sonoma County (ex. Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley). Many people choose to book more than wine tour to fully explore one wine region a day.

If you are unsure what area of Sonoma County you want to go wine tasting in, check out our Healdsburg Wine Tours, Sebastopol Wine Tours, Alexander Valley Wine Tours, Dry Creek Valley Wine Tours, Russian River Valley Wine Tours, and our Sonoma Valley Wine Tours. We serve all of Sonoma County and can help you discover all that Sonoma County wine country has to offer.

Windsor Wine Tours
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