Here’s a one-day itinerary for folks squeezing Sonoma County wine country into 24 hours!
Are you coming to visit wine country’s better half? Do you want to explore the full gamut of wine experiences but aren’t sure where to start? No worries — I have wined and dined my way through this county a time or two and I will not lead you astray. If you have just one day, I have ideas on where to go depending on where you stay. This itinerary is almost entirely walkable — meaning you could take a ride share or park your car once and not worry about transportation between places within your day.
First, wind your way around the plaza and hit tasting rooms, restaurants and boutiques. To start, head over to Sigh for a flight of sparkling wines, both local and international. They just reopened in their new seven days a week location and it’s adorable. Sparkling is a great way to prime your palette for hours of day drinking, because that is what you came for, right? For the non bubbly drinkers, they offer a few beers including, and I’m serious, Miller High Life, the champagne of beers.
Next, grab some lunch at Tasca Tasca, a Portuguese tapas spot, with super reasonable pricing and fantastic flavors. My favorite dishes include Dungeness crab empanadas, linguica caseira, foie gras terrine, and of course, all the cheeses ever. Their wine list is mostly Spanish varietals and though I normally get pretty (very) annoyed when restaurants don’t feature local wines, I do love trying new wines. And since there are plenty of local tasting rooms steps away, I’ve calmed down and just let the vino wash over me. Also, the place is just rad. So they get to do what they want.
If small plates ain’t yo thang, head to El Dorado Kitchen. For those avid SCIB readers, you might say – “you already mentioned EDK in your Fourth of July post!” Yeah, yeah. But it’s that good. The seafood is killer, the burger to die for, and the space is very modern with an open kitchen. I would do either lunch or dinner there, but prefer lunch because there are lots of windows with great light for people watching!
After lunch, head to Pangloss Cellars — the wines are all grown and handpicked in Sonoma. Their offerings are only available in their tasting room which has something for everyone, rosé to cab and everything in between. The tasting room is the real star, though. The fully restored, 115+ year old building features a u-shaped bar flanked by couches, chairs and benches where you can have wines by the glass served with small plate food pairings. This place is popular! I would definitely make a reservation or suffer being turned away thirsty. Poor you.
Are you really into cabernet sauvignon? Well, I wasn’t and now I am, because Hawkes. As my wino uncle says, their wine “is back the bus up good.” The Hawkes staff are always knowledgeable and it’s cool that they focus on single-vineyard cabernet sauvignon. Their tasting room in Sonoma offers seated tastings by appointment. Pro tip: If you happen to find yourself in Healdsburg, stop by their Highway 128 location. There you’ll more than likely run into the winemaker’s adorable daughters and sweet old dog running amuck with the chickens. Doesn’t get more Sonoma County than that.
Okay, now it’s probably time for a rally snack. Don’t know what a rally snack is? It’s a snack for when you’re not really hungry, but you need a little something before you can drink again. And you’re also in a mecca for delicious food, so wine not? Sorry.
Go to Sonoma Cheese Factory and/or Mary’s Slice Shack. Or just go to both. The Cheese Factory is the exact opposite of the Cheesecake Factory in that it’s actually delicious, locally owned and I don’t want to gouge my eyes out whilst there. It has tons of picnic snacks, to-go lunches, but most importantly a ton of different kinds of cheeses. I love their habanero and smoked jack cheeses. The Slice Shack has Mary’s original pizza, salads, breadsticks and meatballs and they’re open until midnight on the weekends! That is big news for a town who mostly relies on taco truck La Bamba for late night eats.
Okay, so maybe you’re wined out? It IS possible. Don’t fret, my pets. End your day (the tastings rooms are closing anyways), at Sonoma Springs Brewing and enjoy their 20 beers on tap sitting at the bar or the beer hall style tables. I love their Kolsch and Enchanted Forest, but they always rotate new (both Bavarian and California) styles to try. They’re open ‘til 9pm seven days a week. You can order delicious banh mi sandos, crepes and pho from the sweet little spot next door called the The Divewalk Cafe. They’ll deliver to your bar stool! If you sprang for a spendy lunch on the square, this is a great way to save some moolah.