Autumn in Sonoma County is spectacular. The leaves begin transitioning into golds and oranges. The days are warm and inviting. Fall flavors and produce make their way into menus. This is the ultimate Sonoma food and wine travel guide.
There really is much to see and do in Sonoma:
- Taste wine at the 425+ wineries
- Explore the charming local towns like Petaluma.
- Enjoy seasonal farm-fresh fare at one of the 500+ restaurants (which include Michelin-starred and Zagat-rated eateries)
- Drive along the scenic Highway 1 and soak in the beautiful Sonoma Coast
- Get outdoorsy and hike through the county’s 11 state parks and 50 regional parks
- Explore the beaches, coves, and cliffs of the Sonoma Coast
This guide will focus on my favorite wineries and eateries you don’t want to miss on your next Sonoma adventure.
1. Lynmar Estate
Lynmar Estate‘s gardens and vineyards are straight out of a fairytale. The air is perfumed by the dizzying amount of blooms. The chirps of happy birds permeate through the place. An occasional hummingbird flits through its busy day. One can easily get lost amidst the apple trees and wildflowers and pretend for a moment that they are in a scene of Alice in Wonderland.
We were greeted with a welcome pour of Lynmar’s Chardonnay and escorted to our private table within the gardens. Lynmar Estate is known for their award winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their garden highlights the bounty of Sonoma County. Although it looks wild and untamed, it’s designed this way and meticulously looked after.
???? Lynmar Estate offers numerous experiences for guests. We did the Lynmar on Your Own Lunch Pairing. The experience includes a private seating, a gourmet meal featuring produce from the gardens, and half a bottle of their estate wines.
2. McEvoy Ranch
McEvoy Ranch is a 550-acre organic ranch, known for their award winning olive oils and wines. The ranch is dotted with Tuscan olive trees, vineyards, natural ponds, and native wildlife.
The secret pagoda at the heart of McEvoy Ranch is one of the many gems you don’t want to miss. Quince SF was doing their Quince At the Farm experience under the pagoda during our visit. Although we did not get to dine there, I can only imagine how magical it must have been to dine under the lanterns while overlooking sweeping views of the ranch.
???? The best way to see this pagoda and all the hidden gems at McEvoy Ranch is by reserving a private tour. The tour takes you through the olive tree orchards, glass house, culinary garden, private tea room, and more!
The culinary gardens and greenhouse are also a must-see!
We ended our tour at their patio for a casual Mediterranean-style lunch. This experience includes your choice of a lavosh flatbread wrap and one of McEvoy Ranch’s curated wine flights.
Imagine being able to try 50+ wines from different wineries under one roof. You can do this at Region. In one room, you can do a self-guided tasting of 50 wines in the Wine Station machines. And in the other, you can do a traditional hand poured experience from the winemakers themselves.
The wine tasting stations allow you to choose your size: by the taste, by the glass and by the bottle. Tastes are typically $3-$7 depending on the wines. We saw a cabernet sauvignon priced at $21 for a taste and we had to try it. It definitely did not disappoint!. After tasting Pinot noirs from a variety of local wine makers, I have a much deeper appreciation them.
4. Hanna Winery
Hanna Winery is known for their Sauvignon Blanc and handcrafted estate grown Burgundy and Bordeaux varieties.
???? We took a Winery Tour through their Russian River Valley vineyards for an educational exploration. This was an incredible opportunity to learn about Hanna’s winemaking practices and history. We chatted with their lead winemaker and toured their fermentation rooms. As he spoke about his journey as a winemaker and his learnings throughout the years, we felt his relentless pursuit for perfection and passion for his art. We even sampled some of this year’s rosé in its early stages of fermentation.
We ended our experience with a seated tasting in their picnic area of five wines from their Flagship, Reserve, and Bismark Mountain tiers.
5. Paradise Ridge Winery
The moment you drive through Paradise Ridge‘s gates, you’ll realize this isn’t your typical winery. You get a glimpse of their sculpture garden, which features Burning Man Festival art pieces. The winding uphill road ends at their tasting terrace, where you are offered a bird’s eye view of their lush vineyards.
???? We did a guided tasting of five of their wines alongside locally sourced cheeses and charcuteries. The experience was paired with an enlightening discussion of their sustainable vineyard practices, unique terroir, vintage variation, and artisanal winemaking methods.
6. Bowman Cellars
Bowman Cellars is chic and romantic. The patio is dotted with string lights. A humble foodtruck sits in a corner (which normally serves food and wine but is temporarily converted to a boutique shop given this year’s climate). We were guided through our tasting by none-other than Katie Bowman, the co-owner and wife of Alex Bowman.
The wines were thoughtfully paired with a selection of cheeses, crackers, and honey. Katie explained the process of selecting the right cheese for each wine and the importance of choosing the right combination to complement the wines. We were smitten by her hospitality and passion for her craft. Katie is as bubbly as their sparkling wine!
7. W.M Cofield Cheesemakers
“Cheese. Wine. Friendships. The best improve with age.” We couldn’t agree more! William Cofield Cheesemakers brings proper British style cheeses to Sonoma County. And they are DELICIOUS! They introduced two new cheeses: a complex Stilton-inspired blue and a lush, cloth-bound aged Cheddar.
We toured their aging room and it smelled like heaven. I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of quarantine in here!
???? Pro tip: Sample their 1 year and 3 year aged cheddars. You’ll thank me later
8. Petaluma Creamery
Petaluma Creamery is the perfect stop for an artesian sandwich and ice cream. They make their dairy products using the highest quality milk.
8. Dinner at Blue Ridge Kitchen
California dishes, reimagined and elevated.
Instead of choosing the dishes ourselves, we asked Blue Ridge Kitchen to send us their favorites. We often gravitate towards dishes we are familiar with, but sometimes, the best dishes are ones we overlooked and didn’t order. ???? To force yourself to try foods outside of your repertoire, I highly suggest asking for a carte-blanche experience at any restaurant! Let the chefs decide.
And…we were blown away.
Every plate practiced restraint. Every dish championed the balancing act between sweet, salty, rich, and delicate. Their gazpacho was spectacular (we later learned from the chef that the recipe is a well kept secret, known to only a handful of sous-chefs at the establishment). Their Fried Green Tomato, a dish I would have never ordered on my own, was a crispy and flavor-packed parcel.
Our dinner at Blue Ridge was one of the best meals we had in wine country!
9. Dinner at The Shuckery
The Shuckery is much more than an oyster bar (but definitely try to visit during their oyster happy hours!). The restaurant features an expansive seafood menu that is sure to excite any seafood aficionado. Everything from their ceviche, to their frito misto, to their whole fish was artfully crafted. We dined Alfresco in the courtyard of Hotel Petaluma next to their bubbling fountain.
???? I recapped our full dinner experience and everything we ate in my Petaluma blog post
Hope this ultimate Sonoma food and wine travel guide inspires you! For more resources to help you plan your Sonoma getaway, be sure to stop by Sonoma Country Tourism Board! They have a comprehensive collection of itineraries and activities for you
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or message me on Instagram @croissantsandcaviar!
Thanks for stopping by!