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Friday, August 13, 2010

What to do while visiting Sonoma

Besides standing at the tasting room bar, that is.

Wine-related

Hiking in the vineyards
Sure, seeing a wine cellar is interesting--the first time, but unless you're there during harvest you don't really see that much.   Several wineries are offering vineyard hikes now.  As most winemakers say, "This is where the wine is really made."   Best time to do this is probably April through September.   Read about it in the Press Democrat.

Seeing the cellar during harvest
As far as actually getting into the cellar during harvest the only place I'm aware of that does this, and for free, is on the public tours at Clos Pegase in Calistoga.

Kunde Tours
They offer several different and interesting options for hiking and sampling wines in the vineyards.   Check out their web site.

Benziger Tram Tour
You ride through the vineyards and get the full immersion into biodynamic farming.  If you want to get some idea of what all the hoopla about biodynamics is then Benziger is the place.

Beer

Sonoma County is full of first-rate brewpubs.  You can find them in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Healdsburg and Cloverdale.   If you're in the Healdsburg area and you don't stop at the Bear Republic Brewery for a burger and a beer, well shame on you.  Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa is nationally famous with the beer crowd.

Food

Yes, lots of great restaurants, but get a loaf of local French bread and cheese because it's some of the best in the world.    There's a lot of olive oil produced locally, too.

Entertainment

During the year there are a couple film festivals and several outdoor concerts.  Cloverdale and Healdsburg have free weekly concerts during the summer. A few wineries put on plays or movie nights.

Other stuff to see

If you don't live near the Pacific Ocean or Redwoods then you should visit both.

For the kids: Charles Schulz Museum and the Safari West Wildlife Preserve in Santa Rosa plus Train Town in Sonoma.