If you are looking for stunning landscapes and even better wine, the Moon Mountain District is the emerging secret in Sonoma County. Even many of the locals aren't fully aware of the success in the soil up the hillsides north of Sonoma, the wineries producing internationally known zins, cabs, pinots and more.
The road to Sonoma runs north and is in easy reach, at only 50 miles. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, running US-101 N to CA-37 N to CA-121 N.
If you're looking for a meandering ride that lasts a bit longer, swing further inland. Cross the Bay on Interstate 80 to Oakland. Turn north through Berkeley, up to CA-29 N and on through Vallejo to Napa. Highway 12 runs between Napa and Sonoma.
The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa at the heart of wine country and only an hour north of San Francisco is the full package. Between days touring and tasting at the nearby area wineries you can relax and retreat at the Lodge, with facials, massages, and even astrology readings.
The Vineyard Inn Hotel offers a rustic setting only minutes from historic Sonoma Square. It serves a daily continental breakfast and offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, and features a solar-heated pool and a fitness center. And there are more than 30 wineries dotting the landscape within 20 miles.
Moon Mountain Retreat serves up mountain-top views overlooking vineyards only five miles north of Sonoma. The wooded, hillside estate sprawls over 150 acres, providing privacy, calm and solitude. Located just up the hill from Valley of the Moon, a list of tasting rooms are within easy reach. Enjoy BBQ dinners outdoors and a night cap under the stars by the firepit at Moon Mountain.
Quail, pork chops, butterscotch pudding ... ? Cafe La Haye rings up rave reviews across the board, from apps to desserts, staff friendliness to its charming location just off the historic Sonoma Plaza. Oh yeah, and wouldn't you know there's a pretty swell wine menu?
You can expect a great experience at Saddles Steakhouse, where the steaks and service get high marks for quality. The prime rib, filet, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, oysters ... the menu is deep on American steakhouse fare, but why stray from the classics when it's so, so good.
You might recognize Mary's Pizza Shack as a Northern California chain, but the two locations in Sonoma offer a casual, budget-friendly lunch or dinner amid the elevated wine country gourmet ... if you're into that. Grab a beer and catch a ball game during lunch in the downtown location across from historic Sonoma Plaza, or enjoy the quiet environment and calm breezes on the patio at the Highway 12 location.
Repris Wines Moon Mountain Vineyard sprawls across 300 acres of the western slope of the Mayacamas Mountain range. Repris collects the ravest of reviews for its views and tours of the vineyards and 18,000 square feet of caves -- not to mention the wines.
Safari West, known as the Sonoma Serengeti, in nearby Santa Rosa offers an unexpected departure from wine country. Journey out in search of wildebeest herds, romping rhinos and towering giraffes. From ring-tailed lemurs to the dazzling zebras, nearly 1,000 animals from more than 90 unique species roam the 400-acre preserve.
Sonoma Plaza is history in the heart of this wine country, with nature, shopping and, of course, wine tasting opportunities filling the plaza. Enjoy a sandwich and ice cream on a gorgeous sunny day or plan a night out with a candlelit steak dinner and prime wines. Sonoma Plaza is the heartbeat of the county, surrounded by the hills and vineyards.
Looking for a breather from the vineyards and wine tasting? Try a different spin with a Sonoma County brewery bike tour.Peddle the charming streets and rolling vineyards of Sebastopol and Santa Rosa alongside a knowledgeable guide, stopping at breweries along the way.
Take a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour and taste regional varietals at three different wineries in Napa and Sonoma, including both big-name and family-run estates. Learn about the wine-making process during guided tours of vineyards and barrel rooms, and savor the area’s gourmet culture.