There’s nothing quite like a day of wine tasting in Sonoma County, but with more than 250 wineries spread out over 13 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs), it can be hard to know where to start. That’s exactly why taking a tour is one of the best ways to discover the region’s best wineries.
These days, wine tours aren’t limited to limousines (although that’s also an excellent option). You can hike, bike, and even Segway your way from vineyard to vineyard while also learning about the history of the area and maybe even enjoying some delicious nibbles along the way. Not sure which tour is for you? You can’t go wrong with any of these nine wine tours, all of which will show you another side of Sonoma, and maybe even of yourself.
If you’re new to wine tasting, Beau Wine Tours will provide you with a welcoming experience that includes a crash course on fine wines and Sonoma County’s AVAs. There are four pre-planned tours to choose from (Sonoma Valley, Russian River, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley) with tastings at notable vineyards like Benziger Family Winery, Jordan Vineyard & Winery, and Dry Creek Vineyard. You’ll taste wine and enjoy behind-the-scenes tours at some of the wineries, and you can even arrange to tour a local farm to learn more about Sonoma’s “eat fresh” philosophy.
21707 8th Street East, Suite A, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-8001
Hop aboard a vintage open-air trolley, inspired by San Francisco’s famous cable cars, for a six-hour wine tour with a group of other people looking to have a fun day in Wine Country. The tour includes stops at four boutique wineries, a catered picnic lunch from the popular the girl & the fig restaurant, and a tour guide who will impress you with their knowledge about historic landmarks like General Vallejo’s Soldier Barracks, the Bear Flag Monument, and the quaint town of Glen Ellen (where Jack London spent his final years). The wineries vary, but may include stops at Imagery Estate Winery and B.R. Cohn. All of the tastings are in a private setting, so you’ll have an opportunity to truly learn about the varietals and ask as many questions as you’d like.
21707 8th Street East, Suite B, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-2600
Take in sights and sounds you’d never experience from a car on this bicycle tour that brings you to local wineries and tasting rooms. The 11 to 18 mile bike ride is on quiet roads with flat terrain and you’ll typically travel about three to five miles between stops, but don’t worry if that sounds daunting: the bikes are pedal-assist electric bikes, so you can work as much (or as little) as you’d like. On the half-day tour, you’ll stop at two wineries; if you’d like to enjoy a picnic lunch and one more winery, then you’ll want to sign up for the full-day tour. Like with most wine tours, the wineries will differ depending on the day, but popular stops may include Ravenswood Winery and Buena Vista Winery.
1254 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 996-2453
If you like to do things differently than everyone else, this four-day/three-night hiking tour is a Wine Country experience you’ll be able to brag about at dinner parties for years to come. You’ll hike around five to seven miles each day, making stops at wineries along the way, as well as a visit to Jack London State Historic Park where you’ll see the “Grandmother Tree” — a 14-foot diameter tree that is estimated to be 1,800 to 2,000 years old. You’ll definitely work up an appetite for the picnic lunches you’ll enjoy at scenic vistas, as well as dinners at fabulous Sonoma restaurants within walking distance of the romantic and luxurious inns where you’ll be spending your nights.
P.O. Box 938, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, 1-888-287-TREK
If you like the idea of pairing your wine with a hike, but don’t want to commit to a four-day trip, the Hike & Wine tour with Active Wine Adventures is an excellent option. You’ll start the day with a hike with gorgeous views before heading to a family-owned winery. You can enjoy a picnic there, or head to a restaurant after. There are two tours to choose from depending on how much exercise you’re looking to get, but you’ll only get to hike through a peaceful redwood forest to a tranquil lake if you go on one of the longer five- or six-mile hikes, and that’s not something you want to miss.
Jefferson St. & First St., Napa, CA 94559 (707) 927-1058
Limos are fun and all, but wine tasting on a party bike takes the good times to a whole new level. Plus, you’ll burn a few calories along the way, assuming you’re one of the 10 people pedaling the small trolley since everyone’s got to pedal in order to go anywhere (there are four non-pedaling seats as well). The Wine & Nibbles tour stops at three tasting rooms in downtown Healdsburg and don’t worry if you don’t have enough people to fill the bike on your own; you can pair up with other groups and make new friends along the way.
Healdsburg CA, 95448, (707) 385-1477
Pure Luxury offers several chauffeur tours throughout Sonoma, but if you’re just as obsessed with food as you are wine, then you’ll want to do the Pure Taste tour, a six-hour private tour for six to eight people. The day starts at Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, where you’ll ease yourself into your culinary adventure with a wine and cheese pairing. Next, you’ll indulge in a seven-course pairing at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens before your final stop at La Crema, where you’ll taste the winery’s most exclusive pinot noirs.
4246 Petaluma Boulevard North, Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 775-2920
Sonoma Wine Tours offers customized tours throughout Sonoma County, all with a focus on education via an inside look into winemaking, one-on-one time with winery sommeliers, and barrel tastings. All of the tours — which are led by Soussan Taleghani, a food and wine expert with over 20 years of experience — typically last about four to five hours and are customized to your tastes and interests. You can choose a tour by region or opt for tours that go to family-owned wineries, boutique wineries, or historic wineries. There’s even a champagne tour for those who want to celebrate the good life with some bubbles.
Let the good times roll on this Wine Country tour perfect for anyone with a passion for cheese and a sense of adventure. After you get comfortable on the Segway, you’ll sail along quiet country roads to some of the oldest wineries in California. You’ll get behind-the-scenes access and a picnic lunch before heading to Vella Cheese Factory for a tour and tasting that isn’t offered to the general public. Sounds gouda, right?
1254 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-2080