Sonoma Wine Co where to go and stay?

Jan 27th, 2009, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 217
Another vote for Ramekins B&B. We stayed there with 4 other couples and loved it. The breakfast was really good!

If the weather is nice (not too hot, I'd guess)you can always rent bikes to ride around to different wineries. It's been awhile, and I can't remember the name of the rental shop but it was easy to rent the bikes and then head out to the different places. I remember we took a nice bike path that kept us off the main highway. We went to Ravenswood, Castle, Buena Vista (great place to buy picnic supplies and take a break) and one other place which escapes me now. I don't know what the "biking while intoxicated" laws are but the exercise might keep you a bit more sober!

As for the higher end places, make sure you call ahead for reservations and another tip is to remember that if there is a tasting fee, 2 people can share it. You don't have to have your own glass. That worked out well for us, especially if you are tasting 4-5 different wines. Have fun!
mollmatt is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 05:45 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 695

The wine train is more of a dining option than a tour of wineries. There is nothing that you see from the train that you can't see from the highway. If you take it at night, then you really don't see much at all.

For most visitors, the amount consumed in tasting rooms is not enough to impair one's faculties especially if paired with some cheese and crackers or sourdough bread.

If you really have a problem controlling the amount you taste, you might be better off on a chauffeur led wine tour:
Supercilious is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 06:15 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Thanks for all of the extremely helpful information on both my and jpd's initial query. My taste buds are quivering as I write!
kiwi_rob is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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If you're in your 20's, rent bikes and ride to and from the wineries. I did it when I was your age, it was fun. If you don't want to do that, then rent a limo. The wine train has a bad rep for bad food and being a tourist trap.
TTess is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 07:32 PM
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Have you seen Stu Dudley's post on SF and Wine Country:

You might find some good ideas.
Ronda is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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A couple years ago we stayed at the Marriott 'in' Napa and upon check-in were given Wine Passports which contained some coupons for free wine tasting. You can also find coupons for free wine tastings in the free wine country magazines available everywhere - wineries, grocery stores, restaurants.

I you want to do the 'tram' at Sterling Vineyards I think they charge you something like $15 but if you go on-line and join their wine club, it is free as well as the tasting. You can cancel at any time. I can't get the website to work at the moment but they are close to Calistoga.
Ronda is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 06:19 AM
Original Poster
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Posts: 3
This is great, thanks to everyone for their advice and suggestions this is so helpful! We have now narrowed it down to possibly staying within Healdsburg at the Apartments at Camelia Inn, this way we dont have to eat all of our meals in restaraunts. We think we will travel around Sonoma from that area and thought about travlling to Napa for one day and night before heading back to San Fran. Anything you think to add to this or enhance keep coming! Stu Dudley's posts are very helpful as well.
jpd0126 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:26 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Once again, I second jpd's thanks for all of the great information. The tips on the Wine Train are particularly helpful. We had seen that as being in the "must do" category, but now I'm not so sure that I would want to.

Unlike jpd, we are no longer in our 20's , TTess. We are getting closer to meeting the "Senior" classification, but are still of the frame of mind that causes us to bristle mildly if we are mistakenly categorised as such. The bike option sounds good.

Stu Dudley's posts are, indeed, a fantastic resource for anyone intending to visit the San Francisco area. I have found them very helpful, but I may still need to come back for a wee bit of additional advice when we look to refine the last few bits of our September trip.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,286
Well, I don't think I would want to bike around Napa Valley. The wineries aren't that close together, the roads are busy and no bike lanes, and depending on the weather, could be not. I prefer a car so I can make purchases and arrive in AC comfort.
Ronda is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
"we would try a few of the nicer wineries since one of us is in the wine industry."

I don't know what part of the wine business they are in BUT depending what they do in the wine business you can contact your local distributor and they should be able to arrange "free" industry tours and/or depending what they do in the business you can also get free guest houses.
jnjfraz is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hi, jpd!

Have you ever done Priceline?

I just got a great rate in Sonoma County - $50 plus tax and fees - at a 3 1/2* for a friend of mine.

If you haven't tried Priceline, please come back and get some tips from other Fodorites. They could give you invaluable technique tips on getting the best hotel value. Please don't go and just start bidding. It'll be fatal!
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 07:33 AM
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Where was the room?
Ronda is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 07:46 AM
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easytraveler is right - I got the rate of $45 per day at a 3.5* in Santa Rosa for several days - It's called Fountaingrove Inn. I've never been to that particular hotel, but it has a good rating on Tripadvisor. On my last trip out there, my wife and I found Santa Rosa to be a very good central location for daytripping in Sonoma County, and there are some nice restaurants in that town as well.
smetz is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,950
I've found little charm in Santa Rosa - except on 4th ave, (I think) where the antique shops are located. Not many vineyards immediatly around Santa Rosa and there are quite often traffic jams on 101 through SR. Seems that there is some kind of construction that is going on constantly. I hate driving through Santa Rosa on 101 & I hate the drive to the town of Sonoma from Santa Rosa.

I would choose a hotel or B&B that was either surrounded by vineyards, or right on the town square (or a few blocks away) in either Healdsburg or Sonoma (I much prefer Healdsburg).

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 263
My husband and I will be in Napa/Sonoma in August this year for 3 nights. I have been searching and searching and investigating and have just about settled on Hidden Oak Bed & Breakfast in Sonoma (within a very short walk of the plaza). Reviews I have read have been uniformly very good. However, they do not appear to have televisions in the rooms (there are only 3 rooms). This doesn't bother me AT ALL but it might some others. They do have Wifi throughout. Two big winners with me are the fact that they offer the complimentary wine tasting pass which encompasses approx. 20 wineries in Sonoma ( and they also have a swimming pool. I haven't booked yet but I think this is IT.

It might be too quiet for you guys in your mid-20's ... it is only a house (but a very nice house) with the 3 rooms upstairs.

Another really nice place I was considering was Raford House in Healdsburg ... looks so peaceful with beautiful views from the porches of the house overlooking the vineyards.

Boxer is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2009, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 56
Use Priceline for the Sonoma Lodge, you won't be sorry.
If you're not that familiar w/PL Go to and view the past accepted prices. That time of year I think you'll get a pretty good price.
I'd also recommend the Dry Creek area for wineries. Have fun!
vacaman2 is offline  
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