Travel Diary: Sonoma

October 14, 2015

As you may have seen on my various social media sites I spent the weekend in Sonoma with my mom and sister. My heart is so full when we're all together, so it was obviously an amazing trip! I know that Sonoma is a popular place to go, so I wanted to share our experiences in the hopes that it's helpful if you or anyone you know has a trip planned there in the future. 

We stayed at MacArthur Place (which I didn't get any pictures of) and had a great experience. The rooms were very nice, there's a free wine (and cheese!!) pour every evening, and breakfast was delicious. Other than that, we didn't spend a whole lot of time at the hotel. 
We knew that we wanted a detailed tour at some point to learn about the wine-making process, so we started the day off with a tour at Benziger Winery. There was no one else that signed up for the tour at the same time as us so it ended up being a private tour and was so so good! It was fun to learn a lot about how wine is made and it was especially interesting at Benziger because it's a biodynamic farm. So that means they don't use any pesticides, and they use goats and cows to cut the grass and fertilize it, etc. This was by far our favorite winery and I think we'd all agree it was our favorite part of the trip. The picture below is the view from Benziger - stunning!
We ended up sampling about nine wines at Benziger at various places along the tour, like up at the highest point, and in the caves. I don't think I'd ever had truly good wine before, so it felt like such a luxury to try all these fancy wines. 
After Benziger we needed libations, so we headed over to VJB Cellars to grab a sandwich (I should mention that we had a driver/tour guide and were not driving ourselves around after drinking nine different wines). It was pretty, but nothing special. Very crowded too - I would say skip this.  
Next we headed to Deerfield Ranch to do some sampling in their caves. It was a fun setup, but it really wasn't anything special, although our waitress was friendly and entertaining. That's what I was most impressed with in Sonoma: the amazing people working at the wineries/restaurants/hotels. Everyone we interacted with was nice, friendly, and easy to talk to! They all love wine and are genuinely excited to talk to you about it. I never felt like I had a stupid question or that I wasn't experienced enough. I also was worried about feeling very young, but that wasn't an issue either!
After Deerfield we headed next door to Loxton which was pretty small and had an intimate tasting room. I really liked how personal it felt; the owner was even there serving people. I chose to sit out the tasting at Loxton because I was starting to get pretty wined out at this point (who knew?!) and I knew that we still were going to have the evening wine at the hotel and then wine with dinner. 
For dinner on Saturday we went to Cafe La Haye in downtown Sonoma. We kept hearing amazing things about it, but none of us were blown away. It was cute and the food was decent, but I wouldn't rush back. 
On Sunday we hadn't originally planned to go do any tastings, but we were feeling refreshed and wanted to see more of the area so we headed to Imagery winery, which is owned by one of the Benziger brothers, so it was fun to see another one of their wineries and compare.
Again, I cannot stress how nice everyone was! We had some great conversations with the people working in tasting rooms, etc. 
I tried port wine for the first time at Imagery and really enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting to, but they had us try it with chocolate, so it definitely won me over! What's also really great about Imagery is that they commission artists to design unique labels for all of their wines. 
After our last tasting on Sunday we went for lunch at the Fremont Diner because I had seen it all over Instagram. It was definitely picturesque!
And that wraps up our 48 hours in Sonoma! It was so so beautiful and I can't wait to go back and try more places! We went back and forth between whether we should go to Sonoma or Napa and I'm really happy we went to Sonoma first. I think that it's definitely a great place for novice or relaxed wine-drinkers. 

xo Catherine 

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