Taking myself out to a solo dinner treat in Sonoma, I met a lovely Irish couple at my favorite restaurant, The Girl and the Fig. They’re on a whirlwind tour of Sonoma — and lucky or unlucky them — they sat where I could overhear their tour plans. So I had to jump in and tell them the things to see, if you only have a few days in Sonoma.
Sight One was taken care of. They’d had dinner at The Fig, which is my choice for Sonoma’s best restaurant — in spite of the fact that the restaurant at the Sonoma Mission Inn has the Michelin Star. The Fig has a limited, seasonally changing menu featuring all local Sonoma produce, fish, meat and cheese. And a strict Rhone and Rhone style wine policy. Since Rhone is our bag, Baby, at Two Terrier Vineyards, we heartily approve.
The next do-not-miss attraction is the one winery you must go to if you only go to one winery. That would have to be Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen. It pretty much covers all the bases. If you like wine — they’ve got great wine. If you are more interested in organic/biodynamic farming, they are one of the premier proponents and pioneers in biodynamic winemaking. Their tour covers their practices extensively and you can wander through a self-guided garden tour that gives you an overview of what biodynamic winemaking is all about. The regular vineyard tour tells you even more. If you want history, Benziger is surrounded by Jack London State Park and has another self-guided tour that gives you the history of the area and lots of tidbits about the colorful characters who inhabited this vineyard area — one of the oldest in Sonoma. If you couldn’t give a fig for any of this, there are just plain stunning views and fun rides on the biodiesel trams that take you around the valley on the tour. The regular tour is great. But I highly recommend the Partner’s Tour which gets you a more extensive tour and an exclusive tasting of their reserve wines.
To round out the experience, I’d suggest a day just hanging around the Plaza, visiting the old Mission, General Vallejo’s house and the Sonoma State Park. You’ll get a sense of old Spanish/Mexican Sonoma and the many colorful historical figures who traipsed through here — including Joaquin Murrieta, on whom the Zorro legend was based; Mark Twain; Sir George Simpson; and seven foot tall Suisun Chief Solano. If you can manage your Sonoma day on Tuesday when the Farmer’s Market is in session, all the better. If not, “winery hop” through the various tasting rooms around the Plaza and check out some of the unique shops.
There. That will give you a two or three days to remember. Now come on up or over or down. You’ll never find a place as special as Sonoma.
Now if you’ve got the extra time and you know people who know people, well there’s always a little known, but soon to be world famous winery on the edges of Sonoma I could recommend to you…