By Stuart Schmidt
It’s a new year and that means winter is here! That means it’s time to enjoy Sonoma County without all the hustle and bustle of the tourist season and the price hike that comes with it. Many from around the country and even in the bay area don’t know that Sonoma County is a year-round destination. Just because the leaves fall doesn’t mean the fun does too! In fact, winter is one of the best times to see the wild mustard flowers growing in the vineyards and visit Russian River Valley wineries, Healdsburg wineries and Alexander Valley wineries.
Start your day off right by taking a hot air balloon high above Sonoma County with Up & Away ballooning. You will be floored by the stunning beauty of the wine regions from above and possibly be able to see Napa Valley or even San Francisco if you’re lucky. From there you can enjoy many of the Healdsburg wineries and Alexander Valley wineries but be sure to wander for a bit around the town’s adorable plaza. A couple wineries to remember are Comstock (be sure to call ahead and make a reservation for their picnic experience!) and the quaint Seghesio Family Vineyards who has a partial focus on Italian varietals. Poke your head in to Young and Yonder Distillery and sit down and taste some of their wares for a brief break from your Healdsburg wineries.
Next up on your list of places to see is the Russian River Valley. This absolutely stunning valley winds through the lush California forests through to the coast. Do not miss out on Russian River Valley wineries like Russian River Vineyards or unique establishments like Horse and Plow’s wine tasting/cider tasting barn in Sebastopol! J Vineyard is another Russian River Valley winery not to be missed, especially if you love sparkling wine. Hiking also abounds in this little slice of paradise. But if you can make it out there, a fantastic hike is out at Salt Point State Park. This remote state park includes both gorgeous beaches and forests for the day-adventurer. Winter is a fantastic time to see the Sonoma Coast as the summertime fog has not yet begun to roll in.
Finally, at the end of a hard day of perusing the Healdsburg wineries, Alexander Valley wineries and Russian River Valley wineries enjoy one of the many taprooms or pubs on your way home such as the well-reviewed Flagship taproom in Cotati. Or for a fine dining experience check out the beautiful Drakes restaurant situated on stunning Bodega Bay. Winter may be here, but the fun doesn’t stop in wine country. So, we’ll be sure to save the perfect sweater weather and delicious wines for you!
By Stuart Schmidt