Sonoma or Napa?

Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 42
Sonoma or Napa?

Going to wine country for 3 or 4 days in early April with my wife. Better to stay in Sonoma or Napa? Is one town nicer than the other? Like nice restaurants. We are probably more interested in Napa Vally wines.
PFG is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:51 AM
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Heck of a choice!

Sonoma is really Sonoma County and takes in several wine areas: Russian River, Alexander Valley, etc. Personally, I like Sonoma better and find it much more charming. More of "real" wine countryside with its meandering roads. Don't shortchange their wines either.
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 373
Speaking of a place to stay, I prefer the town of Sonoma by far (not speaking of the entire county of Sonoma). Still has a nice small town feel.

But if you prefer Napa Valley wines then not sure why you're asking.
joannay is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:20 AM
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Neither one is just a "town" - there is a city of Napa and a town of Sonoma, but the "wine country" is a much larger area - in Sonoma, there's also Healdsburg, and in Napa, there's also Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, as far as towns go (all of which have great restaurants, boutique-y shopping, in-town wineries, etc). If you prefer Napa wines, then by all means, stay in the Napa Valley. We ate at Redd in Yountville last night and it was very very good. you could eat in Yountville and Napa many nights in a row and not run out of good restaurants.
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:23 AM
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If you are more interested in Napa wines, then stick to the Napa Valley. You will have plenty of wineries and restaurants to choose from. Take one day to go over to Sonoma County: Check out the town of Sonoma or Healdsburg or the Russian River area.

Good luck.
MichelleY is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Are you specifically referring to the city of Napa and also the city of Sonoma - or Napa & Sonoma counties?

Like many/most long time locals, we prefer Healdsburg in Sonoma as a base. Beautiful drive throught the Alexander Valley to get to the Napa Wineries. Excellent restaurant (Cyrus) in Healdsburg. Dry Creek Valley just outside of Healdsburg is my favorite winegrowing region. Closer to the Sonoma coast also.

Napa the city has a "city feel" to me, plus vineyards are not really "close at hand". I would stay in St Helena if you wanted to stay in the Napa Valley. I would also stay in Healdsburg over the city of Sonoma because I think the area around Healdsburg is more interesting than the area around Sonoma.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:40 AM
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The City of Healdsburg also has several wineries with their tasting rooms right in town, so you don't have to drive all over the countryside to taste their wines. Kendall Jackson being one of them (even tho I'm not a Kendall Jackson fan).

Furthermore, I don't know which Napa wines you prefer, but many of the best Napa wines come from very small vineyards and you'll most likely have to make an appointment to taste their wines. Can't just walk/drive right up.

Maybe if you could point out which Napa wines you favor, we could give you a more targeted response. Napa County has over 450 wineries...
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 10:00 AM
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Like nice restaurants.

Very good restaurants in Sonoma but a couple of Michelin three star world-class restaurants in Napa valley, though one of them, the French Laundry, is extremely difficult to reserve.

We are probably more interested in Napa Vally wines.

For those two reasons I'd pick Napa valley, though in one of the smaller towns, not Napa city. You can do a day trip over to Sonoma to see how well you like it.
Bill_H is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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If you are more interested in Napa Valley wines, then you'd probably enjoy staying there. There are so many fantastic restaurants in the Napa Valley that you will have a hard time choosing. I live in Napa Valley and never tire of the beautiful drive from Napa to Calistoga. It only takes 30 - 45 minutes to go from one end to the other, but there is much to see and do between.

You do not need an appointment at many wineries, and you can have a lot of fun with a last-minute approach. Also, the concierge at your hotel or someone at the Visitor Center would be happy to make any appointments for you, if needed.

It is very easy to drive over to the Sonoma County side for a day trip if desired. Have fun planning!
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 34
Sonoma definitely over Napa! We stayed at the Renaissance Sonoma and it was a good location. Get one of the cabanas and it's like you have one of your own little apartments.

The town square in Sonoma is very quaint. We also found that we prefered the wines in Sonoma vs. Napa.

Benzinger had terrific wines and gave the best tour. St. Francis and their private tasting was very good. Chatau St. Jean had beautiful grounds and their reserve tasting is wonderfil.

The two are pretty close (I think within 15 minutes of each other if I remember.) So I would suggest staying in Sonoma and then taking a day trip to Napa.
DCAreaMom is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 419
I just returned from a Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa valley wine trip.
I stayed in Santa Rosa at the Courtyard. There are other hotels to choose from. On my first day I signed up for an escorted tour of Sonoma County Wineries, We did four wineries, Simi, Segheso, Alexander Valley and Christopher Creek.
My fav was Chris Creek. Doing a tour will give you a feel of the wineries and introduce you to behind the scenes and expertise of the host that you can then use on your own.
On other days I toured 4-5 wineries each day in each county on my own.
I had to go to Chateau Montelena in Calistoga in Napa.
This is the winery that was featured in the movie Bottle Shock about the time in 1977 that this winery beat out the French wineries in a blind tasting and started the California varietal trend.
joethekay is offline  
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