Travel Diaries: Sonoma

A few weeks ago we headed out to Sonoma for 4 days to celebrate my best friend’s birthday! It was a whirlwind of travel, wine, food, and plenty of laughs along the way.

We flew into Sacramento (seriously, consider this option if you like hassle-free airports!) and then rented a car to drive out to Sonoma. Our first day didn’t have a plan, so we started driving in the general direction and stumbled upon beautiful sunflower fields. Somehow or another we decided to head to Napa, then changed our minds and continued until we were in Yountville. If you have been following the blog, you may remember we went to Napa/Yountville last August (catch that post here) and Yountville is our absolute favorite! It is such a beautiful place and can you go wrong with Bouchon Bakery?! I think not!

We went and met our friends at the Santa Rosa Ironman awards ceremony (congrats to all the finishers but especially to our friend!!) and then headed to Sonoma!

DINING

Brix Restaurant & Gardens – The gardens were so beautiful and the patio is a perfect spot to enjoy lunch and a glass of wine! They are a farm-to-market style restaurant and had so many vegetarian options! I chose the Burrata and Butter Lettuce Salad and my husband chose their vegetarian risotto of the day! You cannot go wrong here!

Depot Hotel Restaurant – The atmosphere here is so beautiful! We sat outside next to the pool/fountain…and it was such a perfect place to enjoy our first night in Sonoma. It’s just a short walk from the main plaza and you feel like you’re at the most lovely cocktail party or on a permanent vacation in Italy. Naturally, I ordered a pizza! It was delicious but everything that everyone ordered looked and smelled so good, so I think you could close your eyes and point to something and it would be exquisite!

Sunflower Cafe – This cafe was in Sonoma Plaza and while the blackberry mimosa was a great start to the day, the real centerpiece was the vegan tostadas! I love when we travel and everywhere seems to have a vegetarian or vegan option. I feel so spoiled having so many choices and this tostada did not disappoint! Jackfruit, crema, and radishes, oh my! Such a cute spot and highly recommend you pop in for a coffee, a cocktail, and brunch!

El Dorado Kitchen – Another great restaurant in Sonoma Plaza! We had breakfast there on our last day and for some reason, I almost always order chilaquiles if I’m on vacation. Or huevos rancheros. They had both and it was SUCH a struggle to decide which one sounded best, but in the end, I chose the chilaquiles and they were so flavorful and filling! The crispy tortillas and salsa roja combination with the fluffiest slow scrambled eggs…ORDER IT. Amazing! Side note – this restaurant is part of the El Dorado Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of Sonoma. This would be a great option if you wanted to stay near plenty of tasting rooms, restaurants, and little shops!

Whole Foods – One person in our group cooked dinner and breakfast for all of us a few times- kudos to him and it was SO SO GOOD!! There was a very conveniently located Whole Foods to the Airbnb. This made it easy to grab a few things and cook at the house and not have to go out for every meal. Definitely a nice option to have when you’re in a large group and have the option to cook!

WINE

Most of the places we have been in Napa/Sonoma/Yountville required or encouraged reservations, especially for large groups. A lot of the tastings we have done were also $30-$70/person. Keep these tidbits in mind when you’re planning your trip so you don’t miss out on any wineries/tastings that are on your “MUST” list! Also, a lot of the wineries we have been or wanted to visit are closed earlier in the week, so be sure to check their tour times and hours of operation!

I plan to do a separate winery review since we ordered quite a few wines from our trip so stay tuned for those later this fall!

Hamel Family Wines – Y’all. They have a cave!! You should go just to see the cave. Okay, but seriously. This wine tour was one of the better ones we have been on. We strolled through the vineyard, the winery, and the cave and then headed inside for the tasting. They served a ricotta and sea salt appetizer with the tasting and it was all so fresh and the salt is sourced from the local coast! The tasting started with a Sauvignon Blanc (which is my favorite!) so I’d give Hamel all the gold stars. It was a light and bright, beautiful space with so many well thought out details and the wine was delightful! My favorite wine from Hamel was the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – it was very crisp and fruity!

VJB Vineyards & Cellars – I can honestly say this was one of the more unique wine tastings I have ever been to. The atmosphere was so light hearted and felt like hanging out with your extended family. We sat outside and were able to order lunch from La Cucina. Side note, while I was writing this blog post I went to their website for the La Cucina and they have a quote from Luciano Pavarotti on the site. My grandma and I always listened to him so I’m giving this winery all the gold stars for that reason alone! The cheese plate is SO good. You can choose your cheeses, olives, olive oil, etc. So many great options and then we ordered..well, you guessed it. More pizza! Goodness. You have to make sure you get enough carbs when you’re wine tasting, am I right!? Most of the wines were reds and while they were good, I gave most of mine away. I tend to gravitate towards light, bright, dry wines and on a hot summer day, a red is just not for me. But, if you prefer reds and good food, definitely check out VJB! Plus, they serenaded our friend for her birthday so…bonus points!

Gloria Ferrer – Hands down one of my favorite wineries I have ever been to. The food, the wine, and the views were all fabulous! Sparkling and whites were the crowd-pleasers here (for me, anyway!) and each one was paired with a dish more delicious and aesthetically perfect than the one before it! We had the vegetarian option which included vegetarian caviar with a creme fraîche sauce and lemon zest, followed by a pineapple ginger jalapeño salsa, grilled peaches topped with goat cheese and honey (YUM), and a lovely raspberry macaroon. The tasting included a cuvée, chardonnay, demi-sec, and a brut rosé! I hope that the chef plans to move in with us and feed me every day. Too much to ask? Also, after your tasting, I highly recommend you walk out on the patio for some incredible views.

Scribe – For starters, something about this space reminded me of Southern California. Maybe it was all the palm trees…either way, I absolutely loved it! We sat on the patio and each wine we tasted was paired with a small dish. The food was INCREDIBLE. So light and refreshing and I’m pretty sure we are all still obsessed with the salad dressing. We had olives, almonds, roasted cherry tomato toast with pecorino, a summer salad with the fabulous dressing, and garden vegetables. Please excuse me while I drool just remembering all the flavors! Oh, and the wine was decent, too! I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the wines we purchased from Scribe! If you do order your wine from here, they do next day delivery so unlike a lot of the wineries that ship in October or November, you’ll be able to relive your wine country visit in no time!

HopMonk – Okay, so this isn’t a winery, but they had beer and they were walking distance from the Airbnb…so…we had to try it! The patio is a great beer garden and they had so many beers to try from. There’s something for everyone! Oh, and try the samosas because they are DREAMY! Cilantro chutney..need I say more?!

If you have a particular winery you really want to visit, be sure to try and plan this towards the beginning of a wine tour day so you can truly appreciate all your sips. Let’s be honest, by the end of a full day of wine tasting you’re hardly paying attention to the tasting notes, and you’re playing your favorite songs at full volume on the wine tour bus and wandering around Whole Foods looking for some snacks and coconut waters. No? Just us? Moral of the story. Prioritize your wineries on wine tour day. You’re welcome.

If you are staying in Sonoma, there are plenty of tasting rooms, restaurants, and boutiques to spend your day wandering in and out of! We spent an afternoon just strolling and stopping in for tastings, perusing cute shops, and getting our steps in. Check here for the full guide to all the places to drop by in Sonoma Plaza!

Thanks to the best friend for turning 30 so we had another reason to go to Wine Country again!

Thanks for stopping by!

Taryn