Why You Should Experience California Wine Country in Sonoma, & Where to Stay

  • Sonoma in Northern California: Small-Town Charm near San Francisco

    Guest room in Madrona Manor, a Victorian mansion hotel in Sonoma, California.
    ©Madrona Manor

    Why Visit Sonoma in the First Place?

    Sonoma County in Northern California is one of the most beautiful and agriculturally rich regions of the United States. It's a legendary vinicultural region that is renowned for superlative wines from over 400 producers, and beloved for wine-centric weekends of tasting and toasting.

    And Sonoma is an easy drive north from San Francisco. So it's a perfect complement to a stay in the City by the Bay.

    We Know You're Wondering: Why Sonoma and not Napa?

    Sonoma County and Napa County are neighbors, and together form Northern California's wine country.

    But to some luxury travelers, neighboring Napa Valley has become a victim of its own popularity. They feel that Napa has gotten too crowded, too developed, and too "big-brand."

    When they visit, they don't like spending their time on the county's pair of congested north-south main roads, or waiting on lines at Napa wineries' tasting rooms. And they don't like being turned down for reservations at Napa's uncontestedly fine restaurants.

    But we're fair-minded! Here are all the reasons why Napa Valley is a luxury travel legend.

    Sonoma Says: We're Not Napa, and Don't Want to Be!

    Sonoma County is not as famous as Napa...yet. And it's not looking for glamour.
    Locals are committed to preserving the county's small-town ambiance. Sonoma works hard to live up to the motto that it has chosen: "genuine, independent, and adventurous." 

    What Sonoma Hotels Are Like

    Upscale lodgings in Sonoma wine country are as diverse and abundant as the terrain itself.

    Each property is unique...
    ...whether a historic wine chateau, salt-air beach lodge, village Victorian mansion, lovingly restored farmhouse, Zen-serene spa oasis, arty B&B... and more styles of Sonoma hotels. All run with local pride.

    What Sonoma Lodgings Have in Commons

    • They celebrate Sonoma wines, and work with the vineyards to feature tastings, winemaker dinners, and of course winery visits accommodate winery visits
    • Nearly all Sonoma lodgings are small, personality-laden boutique hotels that share the spirit of their setting
    • Sonoma hotels and their hoteliers communicate: "We are genuine, we are independent, we are adventurous. We are Sonoma!"

    And I will add: Sonoma lodging can be thrillingly luxurious.
    • See Luxury Travel's "must do" list for a true luxury hotel

    The Right Sonoma Hotel for You, by Luxury Travel's Hotel Guru, Eric Weiss:

    See which one would be the perfect setting for your romantic, wine-loving Sonoma getaway.
    • A go-to getaway spot furnishing a gracious taste of Tuscany in sunny Sonoma County: Applewood Inn, Restaurant and Spa
    • A lovable B&B in downtown Healdsburg with luscious flower gardens, dreamy breakfasts, and a chocolate specialty: Camellia Inn
    • Mid-1800s estate home with lovely rooms, acclaimed dining, and an aah spa: Kenwood Inn and Spa
    • A Victorian mansion with 19 all-unique rooms in an enchanting arts village: Inn at Occidental
    • Boutique hotel with a ranch pedigree, great masseurs, martini bar and splendid steakhouse: MacArthur Place
    • A gabled Victorian inn with five-star service and one of NoCal's best kitchens: Madrona Manor
    • Famed then for The Birds, now for oceanfront élan and fine dining: Bodega Bay Lodge
    •A rustic name for one of Sonoma's most sophisticated small hotels: Farmhouse Inn
    • One of Sonoma's best ways to spend a morning: gliding above it all in Wine Country Balloons
    • Or to spend an afternoon: Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary
    • Or to spend a wild day and night on the "Sonoma Serengeti": Safari West

    See you in Sonoma Wine Country!