It all started over a
glass bottle of wine. This past spring, my cousin Emily was visiting from Minneapolis for the weekend and she and my cousin Krista came over to catch up! Naturally, we opened some wine and chatted up a storm. We don’t get to see each other too often so when the topic of travel came up, so did the brilliant idea for us to do a weekend in Sonoma or Napa in early fall!
Thankfully Emily is a super-planner, so we wasted no time booking flights and an Airbnb. We decided on Sonoma for a few reasons, and we are SO glad we did. It ended up being the perfect location and had a real good vibe – more on that soon!
Krista and I flew into San Francisco from Green Bay and Emily from Minneapolis but luckily our flights landed within a half hour. We picked up our rental car (highly recommend Avis and registering for Avis Preferred so you can skip the lines! Also paying in full when reserving is key to ensuring you have a car when you arrive) and hit the road. It was about an hour and 15-minute drive to Sonoma with thankfully, very little traffic. We stopped at a grocery store in town to stock up on essentials (salads, snacks, beer, water, etc!) and then arrived at the Airbnb.
Our host, Patrick, greeted us right away and showed us around. The little converted Dojo was perfect for us! We settled in, made ourselves a charcuterie board and headed out to the patio to eat. The weather was beautiful, and the Vitamin D was exactly what we needed after a long morning of travel.
Once we were full and re-caffeinated, we got ready and headed to our first winery of the weekend! We decided on Three Fat Guys – a winery started by 3 former Packer players (obviously, we had to being from Green Bay!). While it was a little bit off the beaten path, we managed to walk there safely. We were greeted by Tony Moll (winemaker and former Packer) and another worker who were both super friendly. We worked our way through the various wines in the tasting and were pleasantly surprised at how good they were! (*Spoiler alert: They ended up being our favorite wines of the entire weekend!) Tony spent a lot of time going over the wines with us, talking about his time in Green Bay and just sharing his knowledge of the area. It was such a great way to start the weekend! Highly recommend a stop here if you make the trip.
We started getting hungry and asked for recommendations on a place to eat. They suggested the Red Grape right in the heart of downtown Sonoma for incredible pizza options. We grabbed an Uber and made our way downtown. We weren’t quite ready to eat so we stopped in at a little tasting room – La Vie – and quickly made friends with a couple in there while enjoying a glass of wine. We learned more about wine from the bartender, George, and then headed over to the Red Grape. We ordered a couple pizzas to share (we LOVE ordering different things and sharing – best people to travel with) and a beer. It was the perfect meal after an afternoon of wine tasting! Much to our surprise, when we went to leave, we learned that our new friends paid for our beers! It was so nice. Once again, so glad we decided on Sonoma as it had a ‘Midwest’ feel to it.
While the weather during the day was gorgeous and warm, we learned quickly that once the sun went down, it got chilly. We tried to get an Uber but the wait was long, and we were too stubborn so we decided to walk. It was a fun but cold and drunk walk home. We crawled into bed, excited to sleep in in the morning! The beds were incredibly comfortable, and we were able to get a solid night’s sleep.
The next morning, we slowly woke up and eased into the day(thank you Liquid IV for the lack of hangovers!). We got ready, grabbed a granola bar and hit the trail behind our house to walkabout a mile to a local trailhead for a hike. We made it through town, easily found the trailhead behind the town square and set out on a 2-mile hike. The weather was perfect, and the views were gorgeous. It was a great way to start the day! We headed back into the square and walked around to check things out in the light of day. Sonoma has the CUTEST downtown area. It felt like we were in the Gilmore Girls! We found a little coffee shop, grabbed an iced coffee, and headed back home for showers.
We didn’t have many specific plans for the day (the best!) so we took our time getting ready, ate some more of our salads and snacks from the day before, caught up on a little work and then got ready. We had dinner reservations at The Girl & The Fig so headed into town to check out a couple tasting rooms prior. There are so many tasting rooms in Sonoma and with everything walkable, it was again, such a great location for us. (*Pro tip – the tasting rooms close early, usually by 5 or 6, so be sure to get there with enough time). We started at Pomme Cider Bar, a place that we found on our walk home that morning. It was the cutest bar with a ton of different cider options. We had a great time getting to know the owner and he recommended a tasting room for us so we headed a couple blocks over. The worker super knowledgeable and had they had great wines. We asked him for recommendations for what to do after dinner and he recommended a speakeasy called the Beacon Bar. We headed over to dinner at The Girl & The Fig which came highly recommended by Yelp. It was okay – nothing exciting despite its amazing reviews. We headed over to the Beacon Bar which was so fun, it’s hidden at the top of Taub Family Outpost and has an amazing atmosphere and even better cocktails. We decided to head home fairly early to rest up for our winery tour the next day.
After a relaxing morning, we rode bikes to brunch at Sunflower Café (highly recommend the Avocado Toast) then came back to get ready for our tour. While we were planning for the trip, Emily (vacay planner extraordinaire), did a bunch of research on the best tours and decided on Platypus. It was an excellent choice. Our driver was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, picked great wineries and we had the BEST group on our tour bus. The first stop took us to Schugg, which had amazing views and great wines. We ventured on to Sebastiani where we started with a delicious picnic lunch, then took a tour and had a wonderful tasting in the gorgeous barrel room. Our last stop was Nickelson Ranch where we had a beautiful patio spot. We loved getting to know our new friends and were super sad when the tour ended. We freshened up and headed into town where we found a super fun bar which was more our style after a day full of wineries. We had a blast, left after a couple hours to find Mexican food and Uber back home. The food was good (SO SPICY) but exactly what we needed.
The next day, we woke up and had to head back to Sunflower Café one more time for their Avocado Toast – yes, it was THAT good. We packed up and hit the road to San Francisco where we had a hotel for the night before our early Sunday morning flight. We decided to stop off in Montecito which turned out to be a fabulous decision. We parked and walked around the adorable city and found a great place for a beer and appetizer on the water. We continued our drive, which included a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge! We got to our hotel, freshened up and headed out to find a few breweries in downtown San Francisco. We went to bed early in preparation for our flight the next morning.
Overall, it was such an amazing trip. We cannot recommend Sonoma itself for a girls trip or a couples trip enough. Such an adorable, walkable city with the friendliest people. You cannot go wrong with the number of tasting rooms and restaurants in such close proximity!