A Few Days In

No Whining in Wine Country: A Tour of Sonoma

by Anna Petrow
Sipping Ascend to wine heaven with a tour around sunny Sonoma. All photos by Anna Petrow.

Photographer Anna Petrow is back at it in northern California. She's taking us on a tour of the beautiful region of Sonoma with a wine glass in hand and a camera in the other (and a designated driver to lead the way). 

SONOMA, California – Sonoma has many perks: wine (obviously), close proximity to San Francisco, beautiful scenery — but best of all: solitude. Unlike its bustling Napa neighbor, Sonoma still holds onto its dreamlike, small-town state. 

Vineyard road in Sonoma.
Breathtaking views down the vineyard road.

Driving into "downtown" Sonoma feels like stumbling upon a quiet Western town after taking a wrong turn off the highway. Flawlessly manicured lawns tucked behind white picket fences line quaint wooden-shuttered houses. We make our way to a darling town square and the small boutiques and wine shops that dot its perimeter. There's real magic found on the roads, among the rolling hills of vines.

Kenwood Inn, Sonoma, California
Courtyard at Kenwood Inn.

If total relaxation and privacy are your goal, the Kenwood Inn and Spa is the place to stay. We pulled up to the hotel in a hot pink Mitsubishi Mirage (the last choice available at the rental place), only to have a truly A-list celebrity (who shall remain nameless) pull in behind us. I insisted they assist said celeb first — and told them they could totally move our hideous car — but they refused, and made sure we were made right at home with a glass of champagne before moving on to the next guest. Talk about hospitality.

Kennwood Inn.
Vines on Kennwood Inn and ultimate relaxation by the pool.

The interior feels like an Eden-Gatsby hybrid. The beautifully restored 1920s mansion has 29 spacious rooms — and rose gardens, palm trees, and long trellis tunnels snaking with vines. Things checked off my to-do list: sipping rosé by the pool; languishing in a cabernet scrub at the spa

Beringer's Winery
Vines at Beringer's Winery.

Beringer Winery's land is treated with the utmost respect: their wine is biodynamic, a step above organic. We got a tour from Jill, the daughter of one of the founders, who grew up on the vineyard. The flowers, trees, and vines themselves are planted with sustainability in mind. The ecosystem is self-governing, meaning minimal energy waste and maximum flavor. You can taste the difference.

Deerfield Winery Sonoma, California
Barrels at Deerfield Winery.

Deerfield Winery was beautiful and quiet when we visited. We entered through a long cave and found a cozy cellar with plush chairs, Turkish rugs, and long wooden farm tables. 

Wine glass Kunde Winery.
Cheers! At Kunde Winery.

Even at Kunde Winery, the largest estate winery in the nation, our tour was a tranquil experience.

Kunde Winery grapes, Sonoma, California.
Views and grapes at Kunde Winery. 

We booked the mountaintop wine tasting with insane views: 1,850 acres of beautiful, rolling vineyards.

 Strip steak with snap pea fricassee and spring lamb ragu with house cavatelli.
Succulent dishes at Glen Ellen Star.

We topped the weekend off at Glen Ellen Star, a Michelin Bib Gourmand List restaurant that feels more like a lavish dinner party on a friend's patio. The spring lamb ragu with house cavatelli was packed with rich Moroccan flavor, and the strip steak with snap pea fricassee was a table favorite. The cast-iron skillet peach crisp with vanilla maple bourbon ice cream was exactly what we needed to end our vacation.

Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge.

We woke up the next morning and drove through the foggy hills of Sonoma, feeling like we were floating. By the time we reached the Golden Gate Bridge, the sky was clear and we were back to reality — but we packed a few extra bottles of wine on our flight home, so we can have a sip of Sonoma whenever we need it.

Keep Exploring Sonoma 

Where to Go From San Francisco: Napa and Sonoma
My Respects to the Godfather's Grape Patch
Learning to Sit Still in Sonoma

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.