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Sonoma Travel Guide

Sonoma Wine: One Day Tasting Tour

Courtesy Costeaux French Bakery

Especially at this time of year—that is, harvest time—Sonoma County, California, is known predominantly for its wine. But especially in the northern part of the county, near the city of Healdsburg, there are plenty of other attractions. Our itinerary includes the best of the best: food, outdoor adventure, and, of course, wine. Follow our lead to satisfy all your senses. By Matt Villano and Erica Duecy

Courtesy Costeaux French Bakery
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Stop 1: Breakfast at Costeaux

Our favorite Sonoma County breakfast spot is Costeaux, a French bakery and bistro that’s straight out of France. Artisanal breads such as sourdough are perennial winners at countywide contests; the sweets aren’t bad, either.

TIP: For a hearty breakfast, try the Croissant Breakfast Sandwich—fried eggs, bacon, avocado and cheese on one of the bakery’s house-made croissants.

Courtesy Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards and Winery
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Stop 2: Horseback riding and tasting at Chalk Hill

There’s no better way to spend your morning than by riding horseback through the vineyards of this magical 1,300 acre estate. If horses aren’t your thing, try Chalk">‘s culinary tour through the gardens or a guided wine tasting paired with cheeses.

TIP: Don’t miss the estate’s excellent Syrah, and its proprietary red blend. And make time to chat with the well-informed (and entertaining) tasting-room staff.

Courtesy Lancaster Estate
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Stop 3: Tour and tasting at Lancaster Estate

Tucked in the hills near the confluence of the Knights Valley, Chalk Hill and Alexander Valley appellations, the family-owned Lancaster"> specializes in estate-grown wine of the Bourdeaux varietals—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

TIP: Splurge for the tour and tasting, which ends inside the hand-carved wine cave.

Courtesy Jimtown Store
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Stop 4: Snacks at Jimtown Store

The quaint "> has been an Alexander Valley landmark since 1895, and, after years of disrepair, was re-opened in 1991 as the countrified café-and-tchochke shop it is today.

TIP: Arrive early enough to snag a piece of homemade pumpkin-apple bread, which usually sells out by 1 p.m.

Courtesy Boisset Family Estates
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Stop 5: Vertical tasting from Boisset Family Estates

Crystal chandeliers and modern art adorn the downtown Healdsburg tasting room of Boisset">. The winery imports wines from Burgandy, but a standard tasting also includes pinot noirs grown in Sonoma County (many of which are grown organically and biodynamically).

TIP: Grab a seat in one of two bay windows for people-watching while you sip.

Courtesy Wurst
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Stop 6: Lunch at Wurst

Transport yourself to the Midwest at The Wurst (707/395-0214), a chic sausage shop in downtown Healdsburg. Owner Charles Bell imports many of the Polish sausages and bratwurst from Wisconsin and Chicago; he makes the rest himself.

TIP: For a great value, order the lunch special, which includes one sausage, a small order of French fries and a beer for $13.

Courtesy Moustache Baked Goods
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Stop 7: Cupcakes at Moustache Baked Goods

Cupcakes highlight the menu at Moustache">, Healdsburg’s newest sweet-shop (though home-made Oreos and pumpkin whoopee pies are out-of-this-world, too). The owners incorporate local and organic ingredients whenever possible.

TIP: If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day when they have savory bacon cupcakes, don’t pass up the opportunity to try them.

Courtesy Dry Creek Vineyard
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Stop 8: Tasting at Dry Creek Vineyard

Owned by the same family since 1972, Dry"> was the first new winery in the Dry Creek Valley following prohibition. Today, in addition to a broad portfolio of wines, the place also boasts the best picnic garden in town.

TIP: Ask to try the special Cuvee, which Dry Creek makes exclusively to be served at the annual Screen Actors Guild awards show.

Courtesy Dry Creek Kitchen
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Stop 9: Dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen

Part of celebrity chef Charlie Palmer’s restaurant group, Dry"> showcases the considerable bounty of the region. Expect dishes like smoked shrimp and mascarpone tortellini, and coriander-crusted Sonoma duck.

TIP: The 6-course tasting menu for $74 is a great value.

Courtesy Mateo Granados
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Stop 10: Nightcap at Mateo Granados

Mateo"> is Healdsburg’s newest restaurant, and the bar is a perfect spot for a cocktail to end the night. Partner and consulting mixologist Scott Beattie—of Cyrus fame—has concocted potions that spotlight tequila.

TIP: The Anticuado, a tequila-based drink with orange, bitters, sugar and a cherry, tastes like a Manhattan with Mexican flair.

Courtesy Hotel Les Mars
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Stop 11: Overnight at Hotel Les Mars

Sonoma’s most luxurious lodging is the Hotel">, a chateau-style property that would be at home in the French countryside, serving nobility. Here, it offers a refined night’s sleep with breakfast delivered to your room.

TIP: The hotel will book private tastings for you at its partner wineries.