I'm a newish lurker who jumped on a great fare to San Francisco from my little pocket of Missouri wine country near St. Louis in mid-August with the intent of visiting the Sonoma area as a solo traveler. I will be arriving early afternoon on a Thursday and staying until early Monday morning.
As a solo female traveler and a red fan - Pinot Noirs esepcially - hoping to maximize my travel dollar, do some bicycling for fun, fitness, and the ability to imbibe just a bit, and experience a variety of wineries, I would be most grateful for recommendations, including:
- Should I stay in Santa Rosa or Windsor?
- What are not-to-miss wineries?
- How much can I do from a bicycle as a moderately fit cyclist, i.e. how many days should I plan to use a bike? Do I need to rent a car, or could I use transit to Santa Rosa or Windsor and rely upon a bicycle for the relatively short period I'll be there?
I am a little embarrassed by the "novice-ness" of my questions but am most, most open to and grateful for guidance.
Thank you! Molly
Recommendations for Sonoma Newbie Solo Trip in August?
- Reply by outthere, May 29, 2012.
Another hot spot for eats is Zazu where they thrive on fresh local ingredients. Willi's for seafood is a must. Lots of farmers markets during the week as well. Santa Rosa has two
- Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market
- Downtown Wednesday Night Market
- Windsor Farmers Market
- Healdsburg Farmers Market
Windsor also has Thursday Summer Nights on the Town Green where they have vendors, live music, art exhibits and movie night. Lots of fun.
There are so many good wineries it's hard to list a can't miss locations. Really depends on your definition of can't miss. Beauty or wine? Many have one or the other but not all have both.
From Jim's recs Copain has both and is close to where you are staying. Acorn is close as well. All the others are on Westside Rd or over in my end of West County between Forestville and Sebastopol. Car ride not a bike ride.
- Reply by swivel112, Jun 5, 2012.
Molly, Thanks for the timely post. I will be heading to Sonoma County (staying in Healdsburg) the same weekend Aug 17-20. My wife and I are traveling with two other couples and found a home to rent in Healdsburg within walking distance of the square.
We have a limo reserved for Saturday and the tentative plan is to tour the RRV and then to rent bikes and try to tour some wineries in the DCV close to Healdsburg on Sunday. Here's some info I've found regarding possible bike routes (but out of Healdsburg): https://www.winecountrybikes.com/resources/
As this is a first time trip to the area for all of us we are in the process of researching and I appreciate everyone's input in this thread.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 5, 2012.
Swivel, even the DCV is more spread out than, say Napa, where the vineyards run more perpendicular to the roads, putting the tasting areas closer together. It's kind of rolling, too. But anywhere you go, it's going to be a discovery. Good news is that, as you head out on Lytton Springs Road, you hit Ridge and Mauritson right away. I could more or less head back after that, although Talty, Unti, Preston, Bella, Teldeschi and the tasting "court" where PapapietroPerry and Amphora are could give me a second wind. Just for a few of my favorite DCV producers.
- Reply by Molly4006, Jun 12, 2012.
Thank you, Swivel - those maps are great. I had not seen those.
I added a must-see to my list on Thursday...Donelan. Donelan winemaker Tyler Thomas - a St. Louis native - gave a great presentation about wine making, vineyards, climactic influences, varietals in Sonoma at one of our local St. Louis wineries. And the Donelan wines...wow.
Although, I rode our Katy Trail on my bike on Sunday and visited a couple other local wineries and was reminded how much I really love our Missouri Nortons. I may take a few bottles out west with me as gifts. And the estate Cab being grown by Mt. Pleasant in Augusta, MO, in the vineyard below was, to me, more complex, less fruit-forward, and more French than their California Cab. Very interesting. I am so excited for Sonoma, and I'll miss the fun of planning once the trip is over. Maybe this needs to be an annual sojourn!
- Reply by outthere, Jun 12, 2012.
Donelan wines are fantastic and Joe knows customer service. The winery is in an industrial park in Santa Rosa though so go for the wine and not the ambiance. Will need to make a tasting appointment as they have no tasting room per se. While in that park you can also visit Carol Shelton, The NPA (New Process Alliance) which has all natural (no additives at all) wines. You can also make an appointment at Vinoteca which is the tasting room for Vinify Wine Services which is a custom crush facility for a coupledozen boutique labels such as Sojourn, Jemrose, Bevan, Calluna, Claypool, Gracianna, Desmond, Baker Lane, Westerhold and others. Basically across the parking lot from Donelan.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 12, 2012.
Annual sojourn is a great idea, and the only way you can get to know California wine territory well in a reasonable amount of time. Just Sonoma would take a number of trips: DCV and RRV, Alexander Valley, "true" Sonoma Coast, Valley of the Moon, all are worth a day to a few days. Then you've got Napa, Mendocino (Anderson Valley is a hotspot for sparkling wine and pinot noir), Santa Cruz mountains, Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County... and you aren't even halfway down the state, even after leaving the Sierra Foothills, Lodi, Clarksburg, Lake County, Livermore, and other off the list. For those of us who live here, you catch a little of each as you go along doing other things, but looked at from outside, there's a lot to explore. Luckily, it's closer and cheaper than France!
- Reply by shsim, Jun 13, 2012.
I agree with Swivel, this is great timing! I am heading up there 3rd July until the weekend so plenty of time, although the weekend is reserved for white water rafting out east at American river. But now I have a better idea of where to go for wine and food (Willi's, Zazu and Scopa sounds great!)! Thanks everyone! I am likely to head to Deloach (just had Hook and ladder tastings and they were wonderful...) and Josh was really friendly! Wellington and Mayo sounds interesting as well with their varieties.. I have been to Arrowood (yes amazing view although I thought their wine were a little on the sweet side) and BR Cohn was probably the favorite out of all we tried. Looking forward to Copain as well!