So our first trip to San Francisco, CA was amazing. Thankfully, we made time to get away from the City to explore Sonoma Valley. We opted to take a guided tour of three wineries offered by San Francisco Sightseeing Tours. The company picked us up at our hotel (Union Square Hilton) and we began the 1 1/2 hour journey to Sonoma. We were welcomed into Sonoma by miles and miles of rolling hills and landscaped wineries with small well-kept homes on both sides of the street. With temperatures about 20 degrees higher that San Francisco, the weather was perfect! The first winery we visited was Cline Cellars. Cline is a small vineyard with very approachable wines. There was something on the menu for everyone. The prices are reasonable and they were very generous during the tasting. We liked the following wines: 2012 Cool Climate Pinot Gris, 2012 Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and the 2012 White Cashmere. On the grounds of the Cline Winery lies the Mission Museum. The museum documents the Mission system in California. It seems like a funny thing to have a museum which highlights a major historical religious movement at a vineyard… but it works somehow. We enjoyed walking through the museum.
After leaving Cline, we visited Sebastiani Vineyards for another tasting. Sebastiani has some of the oldest wine barrels made from red wood trees. We tasted several wines and really liked the 2012 Eye of the Swan which is a white wine with great nutty flavor. The wines were fine but the jams and mustard were even better! Be sure to check out the gourmet foods section for great gifts and special treats at Sebastiani.
We took a short break for lunch in downtown Sonoma. The downtown area consists of a quaint square filled with shops and restaurants. We elected to have lunch at Basque Cafe, a cute local bakery offering sandwiches and pastries. Our food was terrific and we had the pleasure of sharing a table with two very lovely ladies. We traded travel stories and discussed a number of other lighthearted topics. Meeting people on our trips enhances our experiences every time.
After lunch, it was off to my favorite winery Chateau St Jean . Chateau St Jean was the largest and most beautiful vineyard that we visited. The grounds were covered with rose bushes and magnificent trees. We really we enjoyed the wines and the tour was the most informative of the three. The guide explained more about how the wines are produced and how the vineyard operates than any of the other vineyards we visited. We purchased several wines from the Chateau to include a 2011 Pinot Blanc and a 2011 Pinot Noir.
We had an amazing time in Sonoma. We elected to visit Sonoma instead Napa Valley based on reports that Sonoma was less commercial and more of a relaxing experience. We look forward to visiting Napa in the future.
If you are planning to visit Sonoma feel free to e-mail us. If you have visited, share your experiences here.