But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Gay Wine Weekend, Sonoma grown, Mark Vogler and New York transplant Gary Saperstien who founded Out In The Vineyard have spent over a decade building relationships with some of the best wineries in Sonoma and are more than happy to create bespoke private wine tours on request.
If you prefer to do things on your own, as mentioned, the Sonoma Gay Travel website is a good place to start planning your escape to wine country. To help you along, here are a few of my favourites:
Sonoma is a historic mission town with a number of charming shops, tasting rooms and museums centered on the plaza. Though it gets its share of tourists, it is also a genuine working town for residents.
Sonoma Wineries to Visit
There are a multitude of wineries to choose from, these are just a few of my favourites. One point of note: wherever you visit, it’s always a good idea to double check tasting room opening times or make appointments where necessary.
Domaine Carneros – Owned by Taittinger, it has terrific sparkling wines (as one might expect!) and a lovely outdoor terrace with a wonderful view for tastings.
Buena Vista Winery – California’s first premium winery has a wide variety of quality wines and a handsome cellar door facility.
Chateau St Jean – Best known for their high-quality Bordeaux style varietals. The Chateau is listed in the National Trust for Historic Preservation with stunning gardens for the visitor. They’ve been a committed supporter of Gay Wine Weekend for the past 3 years running!
Landmark Vineyards – Award winning Chardonnay with a lovely garden and tasting rooms.
Where to eat
The Girl & The Fig – Country casual with Mediterranean food stylings and a good wine list.
LaSalette – Upscale Portuguese, great for Port lovers!
Where to stay
The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa – Although it is part of the Marriot chain with all of the amenities you would expect (gym & spa), the guest cottage style with fireplaces maintains an intimate country feel. It’s also the hotel of choice for Gay Wine Weekend 2018.
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa – has a lovely casual chic quality and has been the hotel of choice for Gay Wine Weekend in previous years.
El Dorado Sonoma – is right on the plaza with a very stylish décor, a great restaurant and active cocktail bar scene. Also, a GWW favourite.
Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa – is the place to go for classic California mission style architecture and complete rest and relaxation.
If you find yourself at loose ends, on any given Friday after work hours, the Gay tribe tends to gather to kick off the weekend on the front patio at The Swiss Hotel. Other evenings you may find them at The Starling Bar (about 7 blocks from the plaza) imbibing in mixology concoctions from Absinthe to Hemp Vodka. Finishing the night, try Steiner’s Tavern (on the plaza).