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Things to do in Napa & Sonoma

Things to do in  Napa & Sonoma

Welcome to Napa & Sonoma

Just 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San Francisco, California's premier wine country beckons, inviting travelers to slow down and savor the good life. Together, the Napa and Sonoma valleys offer many miles of rolling vineyards, biking (and tasting) trails, and an extravagance of eateries—from gourmet pop-ups at local wineries to multi-course, Michelin-starred dining experiences. European settlers planted Napa Valley's first grapes in the 1800s, and today, its wines compete with the best in the world. The once-sleepy city of Napa has been transformed into a hub of high-end shopping, cafes, and fine restaurants. Though proud of its equally long winemaking history, Sonoma is better known as a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, which elevated farming to a craft and fresh, local food to an art form. From the leafy, central plaza of "Slow-noma" town to trendy Healdsburg, you'll sample some of the county's best food and wine on a tasting tour. Between the two neighboring valleys, there are far more wineries than even the most dedicated oenophile can take in (more than 800), and nearly as many options for exploring the countryside: Ride the historical Napa Valley Wine Train; cruise the Silverado Trail in the back of a chauffeured, air-conditioned limo, bike through Yountville or Dry Creek Valley; canoe down the Russian River; or float above it all in a hot-air balloon. If you somehow overdo it, head to the spa town of Calistoga for a well-deserved break.

Top 10 attractions in Napa & Sonoma

#1

Oxbow Public Market

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Whether you’re in the mood to shop, eat or do some wine tasting, Oxbow Public Market has you covered. This indoor marketplace is home to two dozen merchants that feature everything from local and artisan food, to award winning wine and decorative home accessories. It’s loved by tourists and locals alike. While residents may appreciate the butcher shops, and fish market a bit more, it doesn’t matter where you call home, the coffee shop, cupcake counter and distillery will put a smile on your face. Outdoor seating is available and put to good use on sunny days. The hardest part might be deciding what to eat. Choices include everything from Italian, to Mexican, to American comfort food and an oyster bar. Dessert is just as important. Think organic ice cream, multiple bakeries and locally made chocolate.More
#2

Madonna Estate Winery

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Located in the world-renowned Carneros region, Madonna Estates is a unique winemaker utilizing dry-farming production and organic grapes. The vineyard is family owned and operated using a combination of traditional and modern winemaking techniques. As one of the oldest vineyards in Napa Valley, Madonna Estates is working to ensure the historic winemaking traditions of the past live on. It was one of the few original vineyards that survived the Prohibition era. The idea behind their wines is minimal intervention and as much natural growth as possible. Mild fog, wild, and cool temperatures create a unique microclimate in this area, fed with coastal air. Madonna Estates produces ten varietals including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. The tasting room is decorated in Italian Pompeii style to reflect the family’s heritage, and the reserve room serves their highest quality vintages.More
#3

Napa Valley Wine Train

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All aboard for the best train in the West! The beautiful and romantic Napa Valley Wine Train takes the most stunning parts of the Napa and Sonoma valleys and sandwiches them together in a spectacular glide through the rolling countryside. Watch the sun set from elegantly restored vintage Pullman cars as you sweep through the wandering valleys of Napa and Sonoma wine country sipping some of the world’s best wine and nibbling exotic cheeses. Little could be more breathtaking or romantic than this train ride through some of the world’s most famous wineries and some of the most beautiful land in California. Perfect for those that don’t have much time to spend in this little slice of heaven, the Napa Valley Wine Trail gives you a sweeping view of the Napa and Sonoma valleys while regaling you in luxury, history, and of course, superb wines.More
#4

Andretti Winery

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Owned by former champion race car driver Mario Andretti, Andretti Winery is a showcase for the owner's love and appreciation for fine, food-friendly wines. Together with winemaker Bob Pepi, Andretti has produced outstanding wines, with a focus on wines that pair well with food. The winery itself resembles a Tuscan-style villa, with bright yellowish orange structures, fountains, and beautiful gardens surrounding the primary tasting area. The relaxed tasting room is shrine to Andretti, with racing photos and assorted memorabilia. Pull a seat up at the L-shaped bar and taste the latest vintages. Andretti Winery produces wines from some of the best vineyards in California, including such flavorful reds as Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir. White vintages include Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. The winery also produces a variety of special wines, as well.More
#5

ZD Wines

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Created by two aerospace engineers who turned their interest to wine making, ZD Wines has a family history three generations strong in Napa Valley. The deLeuze family offers a number of ways for visitors to add ZD Wines to their Napa itinerary. Along with tasting, guests have the opportunity to learn about farming and the art of wine making. A variety of tours are offered by appointment. The Eco Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting offers an education about organic farming and includes a walk through the organically certified Estate Cabernet Vineyard. It also includes a wine tasting paired with a selection of artisan cheeses. If you’re more interested in what’s happening inside winery walls, the Cellar Tour includes a private tour of the cellar and barrel tastings.More
#6

Viansa Sonoma Winery

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You’ll enjoy the views as much as the wine at Sonoma County’s Viansa Winery & Marketplace. Viansa produces a variety of wines including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. In addition to these well know wines, they also produce traditional Italian varietals. What makes a visit to Viansa particularly unique is the view that comes with its location. Of course they have grapes, but perched atop a hill, the Winery & Marketplace looks down over 113 acres of natural wetlands. When the winery assumed stewardship, the wetlands had been converted for grazing. Now restored, over 500 species of birds have been seen and as many as a thousand waterfowl have been counted in a single day. Visitors could see canvasback ducks, great blue herons, Canadian geese and a number of other birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.More
#7

Yountville

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Located a quick and easy 15 minutes north of Napa, Yountville is a fun addition to any wine country vacation must-do list. It’s the type of place where you don’t necessarily need to have a plan. Park the car when you arrive and wander down Washington Street. There are numerous tasting rooms to choose from including Jessup Cellars and Girard Napa Valley. If only bubbly will do, it’s just a quick ride to Domain Chandon. Tours and tastings are offered regularly. Yountville is also a tasty place to be when hunger strikes. The list of gourmet restaurants is long; Ad Hoc Restaurant, Bistro Jeanty, Bouchon Bistro, and Bouchon Bakery. Then there’s The French Laundry, known around the world for its amazing food and hard-to-get reservations. The Town of Yountville gets its name from founding father George C. Yount, the first person to plant grapes in the area.More
#8

Castello di Amorosa

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You can’t miss the faux-Tuscan towers of Castello di Amorosa, a 121,000-square-foot (11,200-square-meter) stone castle that resembles a medieval European castle. In the eight-level structure, you can tour wine dungeons, peak inside caves, visit a torture chamber, and occasionally catch jousting matches. But the real reason you’re here, apart from the site of the impressive structure, is to taste the wines. Castello di Amorosa produces a variety of wines, including Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, Sangiovese, Gewurztraminer, and special reserve wines. The winery offers a variety of tastings, including those that pair wine with food and wine with chocolate. You can also enrich your knowledge of wine by taking one of the classes offered.More
#9

Domaine Chandon

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Ensconced amid manicured gardens and a tasting room dotted with sculpture, paintings, and photography, Domaine Chandon is Napa Valley's showcase for sparkling wine. But the bubbly is not all you’ll taste; Domain Chandon also produces fine still wines, including Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Tastings are a special event at Domaine Chandon. In the Tasting Lounge - with its breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside - guests linger around the bar, a cocktail table, or shaded patio table in modern, stylish setting to taste wines by flight, glass, or bottle. The winery also has the valley's only fine-dining restaurant, which serves French-inspired meals for dinner and more casual meals for lunch. In summer, Domain Chandon extends it hours, and often hosts live music and dancing.More
#10

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

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Jacuzzi Family Vineyards have been run by the same family for generations, ever since owner Fred Cline spent time with his grandfather in vineyards in his late childhood. Its heritage wines are highly influenced by the culture and wines of Italy, and the property itself has a beautiful courtyard and an Italian stone villa filled with elegant Italian art, fountains, and handmade furnishings. The barrel room has vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, adding to its elegant atmosphere. The Jacuzzi family makes a variety of Italian varietals, including Pinot Grigio, Barbera, and Sangiovese. An olive oil press and balsamic vinegar tastings round out the experience. Uniquely, the winemakers do not use any synthetic pesticides on the vineyards. Efforts for sustainable winemaking practices are essential to the process. They’re generous with tastings of both the foods and wine made here, including their specialty: a chocolate cup filled with Pinot Noir.More

Trip ideas

Top Wineries in Sonoma

Top Wineries in Sonoma

How to Spend 2 Days in Napa and Sonoma

How to Spend 2 Days in Napa and Sonoma

Top Wineries in Napa

Top Wineries in Napa

Frequently Asked Questions

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