People often are surprised when they learn that California’s Napa Valley does not hold the No. 1 position on my list of favorite wine regions to visit.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Napa… and I love Napa Valley wines. But once each year, I do my best to take a week off and head for Napa’s neighbor to the west — Sonoma County.
Here are four reasons that Sonoma County tops my list:
- It’s easy to experience the scenery and flavors of significantly different microclimates in a single day.
Each area of the county is known for a few specific varietals. I love Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, like the deeply hued and rich Bon Vie Cab … Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, like the aromatic and deeply flavored Bella Zin … and Chardonnay from Carneros, like the complex and oak nuanced cuvee from MacRostie.
- Sonoma County becomes a haven for music lovers in the summertime.
Every week, there’s music on the Healdsburg Plaza each Tuesday, music on the green each Thursday in Windsor, music on the plaza each Friday in Cloverdale, and music on the lawn at historic Hood Mansion in Sonoma Valley each Friday.
Rodney Strong Vineyard holds a concert series in a dramatic vineyard setting, and as the summer draws to a close, the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival is held.
And those are just some of the opportunities to soak in live music in Sonoma County.
- You can find virtually any kind of cuisine you could think of.
Sonoma County is a foodie’s dream destination, and now a Jamaican restaurant called Revibe Café & Scoop Bar has opened in Sebastopol. I can’t wait to check out its tapas-style menu and wash down a few selections with a chilled glass of Viognier or Riesling — even though most around me will probably be drinking beer. I also can’t wait to try a scoop (or two) of their scratch-made ice cream.
- Lower lodging rates.
You can find ultra-expensive resorts that rival those in Napa Valley, but I prefer to stay in a hotel or motel that may cost just half as much as their Napa neighbors. It leaves me with more money to spend on wine.