A photo of The Best Wine Tasting Tours in Sonoma

wine tasting tours and winery visits

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Why Visit Sonoma?

Stretching from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Mayacamas Mountains in the east, Sonoma County is home to almost 60,000 acres of vineyards and over 400 wineries. Alongside neighbouring Napa Valley, Sonoma is one of California’s most established wine producing regions and, unsurprisingly, a popular destination for a wine tasting holiday. However, there is more to Sonoma than great wine. A scenic coastline and unspoilt state parks, delicious local produce, whale watching opportunities and a welcoming, laid-back vibe are just a handful of reasons to visit.    

The Sonoma wine region is larger than neighbouring Napa Valley, growing more grape varietals, in more diverse conditions. Each of the county’s 18 American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) has its own distinct characteristics in terms of climate, terroir and grape varieties and the best way to understand and experience each appellation is on a guided wine tasting tour. 

Sonoma is blessed with an abundance of delicious local produce: full-of-flavour fruit and vegetables, organically reared meat, and the freshest seafood. There is an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and artisan producers of cheese, honey, and olive oil dot the county. It’s no surprise that eateries in Sonoma were offering ‘farm-to-table’ dining way before it became fashionable! There could be no better place to enjoy a food tasting tour. 

There is more to Sonoma than world-class wine and delicious local food (although these alone are reason to visit!) Explore the Pacific Ocean coastline in a kayak, hike amongst towering redwoods in the forest and learn about the region’s history on a walking tour of Sonoma town. The mighty Gray Whale migrates along the coastline during the winter months and Bodega Head is a great place for whale-spotting opportunities. 

Beer drinkers will be interested to learn that Sonoma County boasts a burgeoning craft beer (and cider) industry. Ask the Winerist team about booking a behind-the-scenes brewery visit to sample the produce for yourself.    

Plan Your Visit

Best Known Grapes

There are over 60 grape varieties grown in Sonoma County, due to the diversity of the climate, soil, and geography across the region. The most widely planted red grape is Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay is the dominant white grape variety. Other popular grape varieties grown in the region include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.
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Best time to visit

Sonoma County boasts near perfect weather conditions for grape growing and wine tasting holidays! Each area of the county has its own microclimate, and it is cooler beside the coast. However, the summer months are typically sunny and dry with daytime temperatures that rarely top 30°C and winter temperatures are relatively mild. Evenings can be cool, even during the summer, so it’s worth packing a light jumper or jacket. If you love seafood then you’ll want to visit between December and February when the Pacific coastline is busy with fishing fleets. This is Dungeness crab season! The winter months are also the best time of year for whale-watching off the coast. Grape harvest time – known as ‘the crush’ in California - is one of the best times of year to visit Sonoma for a memorable wine tasting holiday as there is a buzz of activity and excitement in the air and the opportunity to get involved in harvest activities such as grape picking if you wish. Harvest time typically takes place during September and October, and consequently these months are the most popular times of year to take a wine tasting tour in Sonoma, so advance booking is highly recommended. 
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How long to stay

With over 400 wineries to visit across Sonoma County it’s impossible to tick them all off in one wine tasting holiday! If you’re short of time, base yourself in the characterful town of Sonoma from where you can fill your time with winery visits and food tasting tours. Those with more holiday time may wish to combine a stay in Sonoma town with a resort amongst the vines, giving you more opportunity to explore different appellations. Longer stays also offer the opportunity to combine a stay in Sonoma with neighbouring Napa Valley to compare the different wines.
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How to get there

The most convenient airport to the Sonoma wine region is Sonoma County Airport. It’s a small airport that services domestic flights from various US destinations including Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and Dallas. The closest international airports are San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport, which are both located just over 70 miles (1.5 hours’ drive) from Sonoma. Sonoma County Airport Express operates frequent services from these two international airports to Sonoma or collect a rental car and self-drive. If you’re driving from other west coast destinations, Monterey is around 160 miles away, Santa Barbara is around 380 miles, Los Angeles is just over 400 miles and, further south, San Diego is 530 miles away.
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