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jpd0126 Jan 25th, 2009 03:45 PM

Sonoma Wine Co where to go and stay?
Hello all,

My husband and I and another couple, all in our mid 20's are making our first trip out to the wine country and feel overwhelmed with all of the options. After reading several posts we have decided on Sonoma rather than Napa but after that arent sure how to start deciding.

Any advice on wineries or places to stay within the area would be great, we all love good wine and food but at the same time our budget is not unlimited! Ideally, we would try a few of the nicer wineries since one of us is in the wine industry. Do some B&B's or hotels offer vouchers or complimentary anything?

Thanks so much for all of your help we will be travelling in June.

crefloors Jan 25th, 2009 04:13 PM

There is still free tasting at a lot of places in the Sonoma area...Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Russian River. The areas all kind of run together and there are wineries everywhere.

Some will have certain wines they are pouring and then some "special" wines that they might charge for tasting. It just depends on the winery. Sadly, I think as more and more people become aware of that area, the more commercial it will become and most places will start charging for tasting all the time.

I prefer the smaller wineries. My brother lives in the area so when I go down there to visit, we always hit some old favorites and will often stop at some place new.

Some of the wineries I like a lot are Wilson, Mazzocco (owned by Wilson) and Matrix. Bella is another that I like a lot. Christi was one I really liked but they closed their tasting room in Healdsburg...I almost wept. LOL

There are just so many that it's hard to say what's "best". It's all in how it tastes to you and what you want to spend. I've gotten some great wine on sale from time to time but have spent up to 40.00 for something I really liked.

TTess Jan 25th, 2009 04:35 PM

Waiting for the tick...tick...tick...((O)) R5 ((F)), Kal ((#))where are you?

Grassshopper Jan 25th, 2009 06:51 PM has a great interactive map and directory of all wineries and accommodations and their websites. I like basing myself in Healdsburg. As Crefloors says, Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Russian River valley have some very nice wineries with free tasting.

boom_boom Jan 25th, 2009 08:22 PM

I don't know about vouchers at B&B's but some,like the Grape Leaf Inn often have an afternoon wine/cheese that features a particular winery.
In Sonoma itself, our favorite B&B is Ramekins, which has just 5 rooms and is above the cooking school of the same name.
Healdsburg, the Grape Leaf Inn. I've read good reviews of the Honor Mansion in the area and out in Forrestville is the Farmhouse Inn.
Wineries, "J" just south of Healdsburg for great sparkling wine, but it isn't free unless you are in their wine club. Right next door is Rodney Strong.
Out in the Dry Creek Valley is Ferrari-Carano (very nice tasting room and big gift shop), Quivira, Ridge Lytton Springs (right off the 101)and Alderbrook.

laurieb_nyny Jan 26th, 2009 09:30 AM

We visited the Martin Ray Winery outside Santa Rosa. The menu was long & unlimited. The wines (both red & white) were tasty & the grounds were pretty. The people were very nice. The tasting was free as was the tour of the entire facility (if desired).

kimamom Jan 26th, 2009 09:54 AM

Hi, there are several nice places to stay around the Sonoma Plaza. The Sonoma Valley Inn is nice, ask the concierge for complimentary tasting passes for the area. If you want to stay right on the Plaza, the Hotel El Dorado is very nice, there is also the Swiss Hotel there and the Sonoma Hotel where girl and the fig is housed. :)

Some places we enjoy tasting include: Ravenswood, Sebastiani, Buena Vista, Bartholomew Park and Gundlach-Bundschu, all in Sonoma. As you venture out, BR Cohn, Ledson, Imagery and Chateau St. Jean are good ones to check out.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the wine country! ***kim*** ((l))

Kal Jan 26th, 2009 01:17 PM

<b><i>ka BOOM<b></b></i></b>

TTess Jan 26th, 2009 03:48 PM

Sheesh! My clock was running slow. =D&gt;

Kal Jan 26th, 2009 05:24 PM

Remember...she usually does another drive by shortly thereafter.

AND...a drive over to Yountville's new restaurant &quot;Bottega&quot; will be worth the trip. Napa Valley I know but still a short drive.


nanabee Jan 26th, 2009 06:49 PM

Be nice.

kiwi_rob Jan 26th, 2009 08:31 PM

I have been following this, and similar threads, with interest because my wife and I are planning to visit the Wine Country for a few days in September this year. We will be travelling on our own with a rental car.
Obviously, one of the main reasons for being there is to taste the wines and enjoy the food. One thing that is vexing me in the &quot;where to stay&quot; consideration is the matter of drink-driving and how to get around, because there doesn't seem to be much in the way of public transport linking the various regions of Napa, Sonoma, Yountville, etc.
Here, in NZ, our drink-driving laws would tolerate about 3 standard drinks over the course of a meal and tastings at several wineries over an afternoon would not be a problem. I understand that California's d-d limit is much less, though. How have other visitors to the Wine Country coped with this situation?

TTess Jan 26th, 2009 08:39 PM

Oh, the google drive-by. It can be so much fun and you don't have spend $ on the gas.

smetz Jan 27th, 2009 06:51 AM

&quot;I understand that California's d-d limit is much less, though. How have other visitors to the Wine Country coped with this situation? &quot;

kiwirob, I was worried about the same thing, but what I found during my last trip there was that the tastings are relatively small - I'd say the typical tasting gives you somewhere between 1/2 to 1 glass of wine. And because you're ingesting it over a fairly lengthy period of time, it did not seem to be a problem to me at all.

One thing they have in Napa Valley, however, is the wine train, which starts in Napa, at the south end of the valley, and goes all the way up to Calistoga at the north end, with lots of stops in between. At each stop you can walk to quite a few wineries, and then get back on the train later. It's an ok alternative to driving, though you'll miss any wineries that are not near the stops.

Kal Jan 27th, 2009 08:10 AM

Taste it, don't drink it?

.08 in Calif.

N'bee, I'm always nice. Bottega was very nice. Napa Valley was nice. Can't go wrong with either valley.

We stayed at the Sonoma Hotel years ago and I felt like Gulliver in Liliputt but I believe it was remodeled since.

Also, Della Santina's in Sonoma for Nonna Gnocchi in the courtyard.
***tutto yummyliscious***

<i>tick tick tick</i>

TTess Jan 27th, 2009 10:21 AM

***tutto yummyliscious*** #-O

tick tick tick

with NICE apricot lotions and a NICE fluffy terry robe.

Ferrari-Carano is a NICE stop. Their wines are fantastic.

smetz Jan 27th, 2009 11:04 AM

&quot;Taste it, don't drink it?&quot;

Once it goes past the lips, I can't make it come back out!

TTess Jan 27th, 2009 11:34 AM

Smetz - major spew here! Coffee everywhere.

kiwi_rob Jan 27th, 2009 11:55 AM

Thanks for that advice, smetz. I, too, seem to have a non-return valve in my mouth when it comes to the business of wine tasting.

When I see people gathered around the spittoon, dribbling at it, I am often reminded of the tale of the woman shouting from the kitchen, &quot;Is that you I can hear spittin' in the vase on the mantelpiece?&quot;
&quot;No&quot;, says himself, &quot;but I'm gettin' closer all the time.&quot;

The Wine Train seems a good option as long as there is available transport to get to and from it, so I guess that means that we should look to do this from an accommodation base in Napa (or somewhere else along the train route), rather than in Sonoma.

Kal Jan 27th, 2009 12:07 PM

&quot;Taste it, don't drink it?&quot;

From &quot;The Book of Do As I SAY-Not As I DO&quot;.

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