On one of my last days in San Francisco, my sister, some friends, and I drove to Sonoma Valley for the day to visit a few vineyards. Sonoma Valley is only about 45 minutes north of San Francisco and makes a great day trip if you are visiting the area. We only stopped at three wineries during our day, but had such an incredible time enjoying delicious wine and food and relaxing as we took in some beautiful scenic views.
Robert Hunter is a small family-owned vineyard near the town of Sonoma, which we only stumbled upon after a recommendation from a friend of a friend. Otherwise, there is NO WAY we would have ever found this little gem. And that is even more reason for me to share this little secret with you!
The vineyard is set on the Hunter family’s property, with their house being the main building you’re seeing in these pictures. I know, beautiful, right?! The family is very into botany, so they shipped in trees and rare plants from all over the world that you learn about during your private tour. Yes, this was a private tour! Besides the beautiful gardens, there is also a spectacular view from their large balcony that looks out onto miles of vineyards with the mountains in the distance. It’s exactly what you picture in your head when you think of Sonoma Valley.
The thing I loved most about this place was how laid back the tasting was. Instead of feeling pressured to drink quickly and talk about different “notes” we pretended to taste (which happens at a lot of vineyards), we just sat out on the balcony and sipped champagne and wine while chatting with the tour guide and having a grand old time! It felt more like we were at a private resort than at a winery in Sonoma Valley.
If you have the chance to visit Sonoma, I highly recommend you set up a tour and tasting at Robert Hunter. They are a “reservation only” vineyard, so make sure you call ahead!
The second vineyard we visited was Lynmar Estate, which is in the Russian River Valley area near the town of Sebastopol. I had actually been to Lynmar last year when I was in Sonoma with Nate and loved it so much that I had to come back! The best thing about this winery is its sheer beauty. The tasting room is this gorgeous building that opens up onto a large outdoor patio, where you can enjoy your tastings or order food (which all smelled incredible). The patio looks out onto their vineyard and is one of the best views I’ve seen in Sonoma. They also have a small vegetable garden that you can explore, as well as a chicken coop 🙂
Like Robert Hunter, I like Lynmar’s style of wine tasting much better than other vineyards I’ve been to. Instead of doing your whole tasting at the bar where you feel pressured to drink quickly, you can simply get a pour of wine, then walk around the grounds or sit on the patio with your glass in hand. Whenever you finish that pour, you walk back to the bar for your next wine, then go back to enjoying the sunshine!
This made for a very comfortable, relaxing vineyard experience, which is exactly what I’m looking for when I go wine tasting.
The last winery we stopped at was Taft Street Winery, located very close to Lynmar Estate. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures at Taft Street, but it was a really cool spot! Taft Street is a small winery that actually began in a garage, but now has turned into a quaint, yet hip tasting room with a bocce court and concert space in the back yard. If you’re looking for a low-key winery to enjoy with a group of friends, this is the spot to hit!
Instead of eating out during our day in Sonoma, we packed a picnic lunch that we were able to bring in and eat at Taft Street Winery. A lot of wineries in the area will let you bring your own food in to enjoy with a bottle of their wine. Make sure you check ahead to see which wineries have this option available.
If you’re looking for restaurants to enjoy while touring Sonoma Valley, I’ve got a few delicious vegetarian recommendations from my trip to Sonoma last year.
East West Cafe— locations in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa
Gaia’s Garden— Santa Rosa