Best Wineries
Aerial vineyard view in Sonoma County.

Wine Country Travel Tips from Sonoma County Vintners

By Published On: March 17th, 2022

Visiting Sonoma County should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

At more than one million acres, Sonoma County is a big place!

With more than 425 wineries producing wines from 60+ grape varieties in 18 designated American Viticultural Areas, all it takes is a little planning to create the perfect Sonoma County wine country getaway. Aim to visit wineries and restaurants in the same general area on each trip – which leaves other areas to explore on your next wine country outing.

Pro tip: Book your first appointment at the winery farthest from your accommodation or your home, if you’re driving in for the day. Then work your way back.

Tasting Experiences

There are numerous types of tasting experiences available for a variety of wine lovers, from someone who wants to explore wine country for the first time to the seasoned oenophile.

Guests cheers with each other during wine tasting in Sonoma County.
Wildly Simple Productions for Sonoma County Vintners

Many wineries offer seated tastings paired with small bites or even a multi-course gourmet lunch perfectly paired with their wines. Wineries with exquisite views may offer outdoor tasting and picnic options as well as reservations for cabanas or bocce ball courts with bottle service.

Sonoma County is synonymous with sustainable agriculture and winemakers love showing visitors their vineyards and innovative sustainability processes.

Vegan travelers will find numerous options for wine tasting and even food and wine pairings.

Make Reservations

To ensure you get to visit every winery on your itinerary, make your wine tasting and most dining reservations when you book the rest of your travel plans.

While our hospitality professionals will always try to accommodate walk-ins, it’s sometimes not easy to have a wine tasting or get a restaurant table without a reservation in many places.

Running late? It happens. Please take a moment to contact the winery or restaurant to let them know your new estimated arrival time and ask if they will still be able to accommodate your party. 

Give yourself a minimum half hour between appointments, even if the wineries seem to be near each other. Before you go, program the wineries you’ll be visiting into your phone.

Having the winery’s phone number and address will be helpful for quick navigation or reaching out if you’re going to be late.

Pouring red wine into a glass.
Wine tasting.

Promptness is always appreciated, as well as booking reservations for the total number of people in your party, regardless of whether they will all be tasting. It’s perfectly acceptable to share wine tastings.

If your plans change, even at the last minute, make sure to cancel your reservation so that someone else may enjoy it.

To Tip or Not to Tip?

If you really enjoy the personal service given during your wine tasting, should you tip your host? There are no set rules for tipping in wine country, it is not expected but always appreciated.

Some tasting room point-of-sale systems include the ability to leave a gratuity at checkout but many smaller wineries don’t have a fancy checkout system.

Cash is king at these lesser-known gems if you do want to show appreciation.

Guests wine tasting and talking with each other.
Wine tasting.

Take Wine Country Home with You

When your wine country journey is over, remember that rules vary by state but most will allow you to ship any wine purchased in a tasting room to your home.

It’s worth checking on wine shipping limits by state before your trip. Protect your wine from extreme temperatures during shipping by telling your host when you will be back home to receive packages so they can hold your shipment until then.

Easily take your favorite wines home with you through Alaska Airlines’ Wines Fly Free program. Up to a case of wine is included as part of your free luggage allowance on flights originating from Sonoma County Airport!

Consider joining the email list or club at wineries you particularly enjoy to receive nice perks, event invitations, access to wines not available anywhere else, and discounts on your purchases.

If you plan on purchasing later, take a picture of the label of the wines you like so you can remember those delicious bottles when you get home.

Must read: Napa County Guide

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