Sonoma in the sunshine

June 17, 2016

Breakfast room at our B&B in Glen Ellen.

A rooster crowed as I stepped out the door into the cool morning. Everything around me was green, including the mountain beyond the trees that framed the property. A large thermos of coffee was waiting in the lobby of the charming Sonoma B&B and I wanted a cup. Two, even.

Locals who have been in the wine country a long time decry the damage done by “progress” and it’s true. As more and more wineries opened and expanded their holdings, the bucolic nature of Sonoma has changed.  That’s how many locals see it, anyway. We live about 90 miles south and we still see the beautiful rolling hills covered with vineyards as romantic. And there’s nothing in generic Silicon Valley to compare with what seems like vast green space and natural beauty in Sonoma.

I’d live there in a heartbeat.

But since we don’t, we try to spend time in Sonoma wine country a few times a year, visiting our favorite wineries, restaurants and more.

Northern Californians will tell you that Napa has become a caricature of itself, and it’s true: bigger, more ornate, more snooty, even. Tastings can cost $20 or more per person.  We don’t enjoy it.  And while Sonoma is also more developed than ever, it has retained some of its down-to-earth vibe and most of its charm, at least for us. So when we want a wine country experience, it’s Sonoma, where we’ve developed a list of favorite wineries and things to do.

Our plan is usually simple: we do one major thing each day and then simply kick back and enjoy the natural surroundings. Maybe a nice dinner later or maybe a to-go meal from a gourmet deli.



On this day our big event was a comparative tasting at one of our favorite wineries, DeLoach.  It’s a beautiful Sonoma winery on a property that has not only a two-bedroom guest hose but a guest house for livestock. And that always cracks me up.  Want to see? Here’s a short video of the livestock, HERE.

DeLoach is owned now by France’s Boisset and we booked a tasting of the French wines with their American counterparts.  I was curious and also wanted to learn a little about the differences.

The big difference for me was that French wine has lower alcohol content. To my American palate, that meant some of the French wines tasted diluted.  Of course, wine is served like water in France, so the lower alcohol content is probably the only way they get through their days.

I’ve done scores of wine tastings over the years and the truth is, I drink very little wine when I’m not on vacation. Still, I love everything about being in the Sonoma wine country on a slow, sunny weekday. The gentle pace, the bright sky, green everywhere, the beautiful setting for a relaxing taste of a few good wines.

Preparing to write this I went through my photos from our March trip and got excited all over again.

Have you been to Sonoma and how was your experience?


47 comments on “Sonoma in the sunshine
  1. PatU says:

    We have never been to the California wine country, but it sounds so appealing.

    I’m not sure if you know the Mercier family from Rochester. My friend Andrea runs a biologic winery of the same name,somewhere around there. Their wines seem to be pretty good as a number of restaurants in Rochester feature them. Not available in store. I get the idea it’s a boutique operation.

  2. I love the whole area and could live there and be perfectly happy.Went with my parents, husband and friends. LOVE it there.

    My dad is a wine connoisseur, started his own successful wine society in 1970. As the youngest child, the only one not off to college, I was fortunate to go on trips with my parents to Sonoma/Napa and the Loire Valley in France. Many pre-planned wine trips where we got private tastings outdoors and in the cellar! Great memories.

  3. Leanne says:

    I’m not a wine drinker, but that type of countryside is always beautiful – we have a wine region a couple of hours south of where we are and it’s very popular and very beautiful.

  4. Rosemond says:

    I love the wine country and like you really prefer the Sonoma side. Napa is just a zoo! The traffic is so crazy on that side. I prefer the more laid back feeling of the Sonoma side. I’ve never been to DeLoach but need to add that to our next wine tasting list!

  5. renee says:

    I have driven thru the area but never explored it, it looked wonderful and now after reading this I wish we would have stopped…Bucket List..

  6. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I visited Sonoma about 10 years ago. Absolutely loved the area. Someday I hope to return.

  7. I’m going up there next month because my brother lives in Napa and we are having a family get together. I can’t wait. It’s always so relaxing and fun.

  8. Barbara says:

    I’ve not been to Napa or Sonoma but, the southern NJ area is often compared to them. It seems the soil and climate here a very similar to the CA area and Bordeaux. We have a winery a block and a half away and at least 10 within a 20-minute drive.But, compared to CA we are in our infancy.

  9. Michele says:

    My husband and I were just talking last night about where we might want to go on our next trips. Wine country was one option. I’m glad you’ve found something peaceful amidst the commercialization. When things become very popular, it is usually for good reason. it wouldn’t deter me from a trip to CA, even though it is a ways from us in Wisconsin.

  10. Nancy Hill says:

    I haven’t stayed in the area since summers in college. Friends occasionally take me to a tasting or concert in a wine cave/cellar when I’m in the area. Your shared wisdom of “Our plan is usually simple: we do one major thing each day and then simply kick back and enjoy the natural surroundings” is stellar.

  11. I have never been to wine country. I am really looking forward to a visit with my daughters! How nice to have such beauty ony 90-miles away!

  12. Wow, I have to get to Sonoma! My husband and I were thinking of taking a trip to Napa but I think I’d rather do this!

  13. This sounds just wonderful. I wonder if I can get a flight today! LOL

  14. I can definitely understand why you would want to live there – and maybe you will one day! Meanwhile, enjoy your next visit.

  15. I’m not sure how far Sonoma is from the Morro Bay and Cambria (and more along Highway 1) area, but if it’s anything like that, I would *love* to visit. I’m a new fan of wine and this sounds like THE next spot I must visit in California wine country. A non-snobby spot to enjoy the wine… and livestock! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  16. tara pittman says:

    My husband would love to visit this place. He would love to learn more about wine.

  17. I;ve wanted to go to California wine country for the longest time! Staying in a B&B sounds absolutely perfect for this trip, too! Hopefully one day we’ll get to go!

  18. Fun to explore things and discover them while enjoying it.

  19. Elizabeth O. says:

    I’ve never been to Sonoma. It looks like the perfect escape when you want to just get away from it all. The place is so relaxing and I love the rustic decor, it totally adds to the charm! I would live here if I could!

  20. Nicole Escat says:

    You are so lucky to live there, such a peaceful place. I hope I can live there too!

  21. I would want to live there. I think I’d be able to write a lot since it looks quite peaceful.

  22. Nikki Jenner says:

    I love to see this place, it is so relaxing and looks peaceful. I always wanted to have a vacation away from the busy world.

  23. Angie Scheie says:

    Sonoma is such a beautiful area! We made a point of stopping there and spending some time while on a road trip!

  24. Courtney Gillard says:

    This place is wonderful. I haven’t seen places like these, I think I need a vacation in here!

  25. Amy Jones says:

    I’ve never been to Sonoma but judging on the pictures and the way you talk about it makes me want to pay it a visit, sounds like a really nice place for vacations

  26. Heather says:

    Sounds like a wonderful place to visit! Thanks for the review 🙂

  27. My father was always the one who stopped by wineries, distilleries, beer making establishments to check out the product. Sonoma is a beautiful place but it has changed so much in the past 20 or so years that I know I wouldn’t recognize it. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

  28. Cori says:

    Wine flows like water in France…yeah, definitely needs a lower alcohol content.

  29. Leigh Anne Borders says:

    I have never been there. I hope to one day. I have stayed in a few Bed and breakfast places and really loved them!

  30. This sounds like a beautiful place to stay. I love staying at bed and breakfast places because they feel so much like home.

  31. I’ve never been to Sonoma. It looks nice and peaceful. I’ve never stayed in a b&b I’ve alway been a little hesitant about them I kind of like the separation you get at a hotel.

  32. Kathy says:

    I have never been to Sonoma before. Sounds like a lovely place though. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go there.

  33. Jessica says:

    I haven’t been to Sonoma, but this makes me want to go. I could use a peaceful and relaxing vacation!

  34. Kusum says:

    Sonoma wine country is one of my favorites, every winery has a nice feel to it. Seems like a nice experience.
    xx, Kusum |

  35. I’ve never been to sonoma! But hearing you talk about it, I think I may have to change that!

  36. She Joh says:

    I’ve never been to Napa or Sonoma but I’ve always wanted to go. After hearing your experience it only validates that I need to visit someday!

  37. Jay Simms says:

    That is so beautiful. I bet it is really peaceful and beautiful to wake up to every morning.

  38. Colette S says:

    I have never been, but I’d love to visit.
    I’ve heard so much about this place and would enjoy a visit with a girlfriend or two.

  39. Would love to visit sonoma esp after this post
    I didn’t know Deloach was owned by France’s Boisset

  40. Looks like a nice place to visit with my husband! Love the way you describe it!

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