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Sunday, April 28, 2013

First time visiting Sonoma County?

When you travel somewhere new it's easy to not understand the geography and other things peculiar to the area. So if you're making your first trip to Sonoma County this might help with a few things people often don't understand about the region.

Travel Times Between Wineries

Sonoma County is big enough to have significant drive times within the county. Plan enough time at each stop to enjoy yourself without rushing and allow for travel time.  For example, the drive time between a couple popular wineries, Ferrari-Carano in northern Dry Creek Valley and Viansa in the Carneros region in the south is over an hour.

In planning appointments don't do something like, "1pm at Winery A, 2pm at Winery B, and 3pm at Winery C." You can't do it that quickly even without travel time. You're on vacation! Relax and spread out the visits.

Number of Wineries to Visit Each Day

You will be drinking the equivalent of one glass of wine at each winery unless you share tastes with someone. Six glasses of wine during the day will probably put you over the legal limit for driving. Four winery visits a day is ideal.

Planning Some Down Time

If this is more than a two-day trip have some other activities planned in the middle. Your palate, and maybe your liver, will thank you. Start over fresh and you'll better enjoy the winery visits.

Know What You are Looking for in Wine

Whether you are planning your winery stops ahead of time, or like most, ask the locals once you get to town, it's good to know what you want in a winery as there are hundreds to choose from!  So what's important? Looking for Pinot Noirs you won't find back home, nice views, free tastings, inexpensive Chardonnay, tours, small, family-owned wineries? Try to figure out what that is to help you or someone else help you choose.

Planning on How to Get Your Wine Purchases Home
Some go in saying, "I'm not going to buy any wine this trip."  Hah! You will fall in love with some wine(s) you will never see again after you leave and will just have to get some.

If you are not from California know if it's legal for wineries to ship to your state. Or maybe you know someone in a nearby "legal" state that can take your shipments for you. If so have their address available. You can ship from wineries or take your purchases to a local UPS store and have them shipped home. Shipping a couple bottles isn't very economical--it's best to ship at least a half case (six bottles) to make the shipping cost worthwhile.

When shipping to be sure someone will be home when the wine arrives. It's federal law that an adult must sign for the wine. Maybe ship to your place of business.


There are actually quite a few folks that will be out wine tasting and all of a sudden, at maybe 2 pm, realize they're starving. They haven't planned ahead to be somewhere to eat or to have a deli sandwich with them. Most winery tasting rooms do not carry food items. Plan ahead!

I've had folks come in (to a tasting room) and actually be upset because there isn't anything to eat. Others come in asking for a cup of coffee. Huh?

Speaking of eating... 
Remember, you came to Sonoma County primarily to eat and drink. It's okay. You can lose weight when you get home!

We'll see you soon