The Valley of the Moon is a favorite romantic destination made famous by onetime local resident and novelist Jack London. Take your time exploring Sonoma Valley wineries and State Parks, and touring the Plaza in the City of Sonoma.
Trip Time: 2-3 days
Set up camp in Spring Lake Regional Park . This county park has many hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. Picnic facilities, camping and swimming in the lagoon are all fun activities here. The Children’s Discovery Center offers many hands-on exhibits. Alternatively, if you enjoy hiking, then Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is for you! Situated on a ridge in the Valley of the Moon, visitors can experience camping, hiking, nature trails with vista points, a visitor center, picnicking, guided tours, and exhibits and special programs by park rangers.
If you’d rather have someone else do the driving while visiting wineries, then you might want to contact Pure Luxury Limousine . It offers five-hour “Sonoma Valley Wine Tours” that include visits to several wineries and lunch. Six person minimum.
Some of the many wineries nestled in the Sonoma Valley include (starting from the western end near Santa Rosa) Ledson Winery , known locally as “the Castle.” Ledson specializes in small lots of hand-crafted wines and offers a diversity of red and white varietals. Bring your own or select fresh, locally-made gourmet foods from the Castle’s kitchen and enjoy a picnic in their shaded picnic grove.
Nicknamed “House of Big Reds,” St. Francis Winery & Vineyards favors Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot wines. Their newly built visitors center offers a nice selection of retail products and award-winning wines. Additionally, you can visit Blackstone Winery winery and taste wine at their outdoor tasting bar, near the edge of their vineyards. Enjoy browsing through their gift and gourmet shop.
Known for its crisp Chardonnay and robust Pinot Noir wines, a visit to Landmark Vineyards must include a stroll through the beautifully-landscaped gardens. At Chateau St. Jean Winery , you can also enjoy the lovely gardens that flourish in the elegant courtyard near the new Visitors Center. Choose from many delightful gifts and gourmet foods in the beautifully appointed Retail/Wine Tasting Room. The broad lawn that fronts the magnificent chateau is perfect for picnicking.
At Benziger Family Winery , take an educational tram tour through the vineyards. Learn about their organic/biodynamic farming approach to wine making, sample wines at the source, or simply sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views. Have a picnic in their wooded grove and watch the peacocks strolling by. Taste reserve and vineyard designate wines in the Wine Shop.
Give your palate a rest at Jack London State Historic Park . This park was created in 1959, when a small portion of London’s 1,400-acre Beauty Ranch was acquired by the state. Additional acreage has been added over the years, so that today the park contains more than 800 acres, including many of the ranch buildings and the cottage where London wrote much of his later work. Trails hikes are available at anytime, but on weekends there are docent-led walks offering visitors interpretive talks of the history and ecology of the park.
Step back onto the wine trail at Imagery Winery , owned by the Benziger Family. Imagery employs the same kind of environmentally-friendly approach to wine making as the Benzigers. Along with tasting good wine, come and stroll through their one-of-a-kind collection of label art.
While Sonoma is home to some of the oldest wineries in California, the Plaza in the City of Sonoma is a masterpiece of history. The town square is a beautifully shaded Plaza surrounded on one side by old adobe buildings and other preserved historic buildings, including the last of the California Missions. The other side includes bed & breakfast properties, boutique shops and fine restaurants, many with patio dining. The Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau is located at the Plaza.
Finish up at Buena Vista Winery , California’s first premium winery. Founded in 1857, it offers award-winning wines, tasting, cave tours and fine retail products.