Guide to Planning The Perfect Wine Tasting Trip in Sonoma County
Five tips for planning your Wine Country Vacation.
Sonoma County’s wine country is filled with hidden gems and endless exploration. Knowing whats worth checking out on your weekend getaway can be difficult to navigate. With over 425 wineries and hundreds of dining options, newcomers to the area may get overwhelmed when deciding on an itinerary. Here are a couple tips that will help conquer Wine Country.
Cheese and Wine Pairing in Sbragia Family Vineyard’s Private Library
Have a loose schedule.
When it comes to Sonoma County, there are hundreds of options to choose from. Making a list of spots you would like to hit is always a good thing, but know it is okay to stray from your plan. You can’t always gauge how long a tasting experience will take or how the day will flow. We see many ambitious tasters with plans of hitting six or more wineries in one day. Remember this is a vacation and it is important to take the time to enjoy yourself. Quality experiences always trump quantity. It also helps to stick to one AVA (American Viticultural Area) at a time when visiting Sonoma County. You can spend the majority of the day traveling between vineyards if you pick ones on the opposite end of the county. It is helpful to work your way from one region to the next. For example, start in Alexander Valley, then Dry Creek and finish in Russian River then next day.
Ask your host for recommendations.
Sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor are great starting points when planning your travels. Though these sites are useful tools, reviews are one person’s experience and they could lead you astray if they have different tastes. Check out a winery that looks appealing to you and see what your host suggests after a tasting flight for a tailored recommendation. Based on the wines you like and your responses, your host should have a good idea of places that would fit your likes. And what’s better than a local’s guidance! Try to jot down some notes during your tasting so you remember which wines are favorites and where to visit again in the future.
Many wineries provide breadsticks or small palate cleansers to accompany your tasting experience, but not all. Bring a carb-loaded snack or picnic to get you through the day. If you are visiting a winery not directly in town, you may not have food options available, so it is best to come prepared. Sbragia offers to-go picnic packs which are handy to take with you or you can grab lunch at local markets such as The Dry Creek General Store, Jimtown store, or Big Johns Market. They offer a variety of sandwiches, salads, and beverages to pick up on the go.
Hire a driver.
If you’re new to wine tasting, the one-ounce pours can sneak up on you quicker than you think. Have a plan on whose driving, hire a driver, or utilize tour services. It’s worth the extra cost to have a safe ride and takes the stress out of the weekend. There are some amazing tour guide companies that will shuttle your group around and get you some discounted tastings. It always helps to have a local on your side! A few of our favorite tour groups are Platypus Wine Tours, Pure Luxury Transporation, and Beau Wine Tours.
Water and dump buckets are your friends.