Californian dreaming on the road to Sonoma County

By California / United States /

SO you’ve flown into San Francisco, picked up your California car rental and not sure where to go? We say “not far at all” if you underline the words “Sonoma County” on your itinerary. We’ve tapped into the Sonoma County Tourism latest news to give you the lowdown on what makes it special, so read on.

Sonoma County

Located in Northern California just a 50km drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma County offers a blend of incredible scenery, urban sophistication, agriculture, small-town charm, outdoor adventure, and, of course, the food and wine that make this region famous. Sonoma County boasts more than 425 wineries, 100-plus organic farms, and 80km of stunning Pacific Ocean coastline.

Whether your goal is to savor food and wine pairings at renowned wineries, explore the more than 50 miles of spectacular Pacific coastline, picnic under towering redwood trees, shop unique local galleries and boutiques, or discover other Sonoma County delights, here are a few things you might want to know before visiting Sonoma Wine Country.

What to pack

Sonoma County’s moderate temperatures rarely dip below freezing, even in winter. The county typically gets about 25 to 30 inches of annual rainfall, mainly from November through April.

However, microclimates are part of what make Sonoma County such a great place to grow wine grapes, and some areas of the county can be much cooler, warmer, or windier than others. When the inland areas heat up in the summer, the coastal regions can remain cool. The weather can be changeable, and a chilly, foggy summer morning anywhere in the county can heat up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or more) by 2pm.

It’s best to wear layers. Jeans, khakis or shorts, T-shirts, comfortable walking shoes, a sweater, and a medium-weight jacket are good for daytime sightseeing. Wine Country casual — like business casual, but with the laid-back, country feeling of a vineyard — is typical for evenings out.

Getting to Sonoma County

For those flying into other airports, Sonoma County is about 75 miles north of either San Francisco International (SFO) or Oakland International (OAK) airports, or about 120 miles west of Sacramento International (SMF). When traveling by car from San Francisco (and points south of there), cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north on Highway 101. From Sacramento, go west on US-80, then west on Highway 12/121. From Seattle/Portland, go south on Highway 101 or US Interstate 5.

Visit a winery or ten

Home to more than 425 award-winning wineries, Sonoma County barrels a varietal for nearly every palate. Taste by region or varietal, tour vineyards, barrel rooms, and wine caves. Savor delicious food-and-wine pairings, or learn how to blend wine. “Sparkling” isn’t just about wine in Sonoma County. The area’s artisan breweries, cider houses and distilleries offer tours as well. Be as active or as laid back as you wish, Sonoma County has a winery experience that’s right for you.

Get outdoors

Stroll through ancient redwoods; or soar through the forest on a zip line. Hike remote trails through more than 60 state and regional nature parks. Paddle a canoe through various rivers, lakes, and even an ocean. Cycle backroads easy enough for a beginner or challenging enough for the pro cyclists who compete in Amgen Tour of California or the Gran Fondo. Golfers can tee off at one of 20-plus stunning courses. Go horseback riding, take a ride in a hot-air balloon, observe wildlife, or simply sit back and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Explore the coast

The stunning drive along Highway 1 unveils the rugged cliffs, pristine sand beaches, stunning vistas, whale watching, and small towns nestled along more than 50 miles of coastline. The area is dramatic, yet approachable. Trails and beaches beg travelers to stop and explore on foot. State and regional parks dot the coastline, tempting with hiking, beaches, fishing, camping, water sports, and horseback riding. Or simply relax at a beach for the day, enjoy a romantic picnic, or go all-out on a camping trip. While the coast is beautiful to explore at any time, be aware that the weather can turn windy or foggy any time of year, so always bring along a windbreaker and cap.

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit or call +1-707-522-5800.


5 Great Ways To Discover The Napa Valley

By California / United States /

So you’ve left your heart in San Francisco after jumping in a car rental and wondering which direction to head? The answer is obvious, especially for those who don’t mind a tipple or two – head for Napa Valley and park your wheels at these five hotspots to continue some serious Californian dreaming. And it’s not all about the wine, as you’ll discover.

One … Napa Valley Wine Train

It’s time to journey back in time as you discover the Napa Valley in the comfort of a train with all the trimmings. The Napa Valley Wine Train, echoing the days of yesteryear when train travel was the luxurious way to experience a journey, is not only a charming mode of transport but also a restaurant on the tracks. With 100-year-old railcars and a 150-year-old rail corridor, the Wine Train retains railroading traditions that are disappearing on the American landscape, all within the stunning setting of Napa Valley and its treasured wineries. More:

Two … Lavender Inn

Lavender, a Four Sisters Inn, is a touch of Provence in the Napa Valley and is renowned for its cosy, homely accommodation offering in a setting that blends a little bit of the old with a little bit of the new. Gorgeous guestrooms features a fireplace, a king-sized bed heaped with pillows and many feature large brilliantly painted bathrooms with double sinks and contemporary benchtops. The good news? You can leave your Napa Valley car rental at home as there are superb wineries within walking distance including Hope & Grace, Somerston, Hestan Vineyards and Cornerstone Cellars. More:

Three … The Hess Collection Winery

Not just a mere winery, this one’s a museum as well, so you get the wine-art combo treatment located on the volcanic slopes of Mt Veeder. Hess Wines are legendary in these parts, the Cab Sav a favourite for many, and while there’s opportunities to do the cheese and wine pairing experience or straight up tastings, it’s essential you visit the contemporary art museum featuring works from the private collection of proprietor Donald Hess. It’s open daily and FREE. Self-guided iPod audio tours are available, too. More:

Four … Safari West

There’s plenty of reason to go wild in the Napa Valley, just ask the resident animals at this place, a 400-acre wildlife sanctuary. Safari West offers guided, open-air jeep tours daily. It’s an attraction with a real point of difference and a great place to take the family or wander through and talk to the animals. More:

Five … Napa Valley Bike Tours

Leave your car behind and spin your wheels on a bike tour of the Napa Valley. Join one of the company’s Guided Bike Tours, hosted by someone in the know, or go Self-Guided or Rent Bikes with the assistance of customised route maps and expert advice from the locals. This month (September 2016) is a chance to experience the new 12km stretch of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, connecting Napa to Yountville, offering a beautiful and relaxing bike ride with all the sights. More:





What’s hot about California this summer? Try these for size

By California / United States /

California here we come…
Pick up your hire campervan from Los Angeles airport, and head out and explore these five exciting things in California.

A visit to Disneyland in Anaheim is every kid’s wish come true and every adult’s childhood dream. Touted as California’s premier family destination, this amusement park is home to theme rides, games, shopping precincts, entertainment and popular restaurants. Here, there’s something for each member of the family.

Big Sur
A stunning and iconic stretch of coastline that’s hard to forget once you’ve seen it in real life. There are splendid views all the way along Highway 1 with hiking, camping and sun bathing among the perfect passtimes around here. Explore the hiking trails, lookouts and waterfalls hidden within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park along the way.

Lake Tahoe
This beautiful lake is an exciting destination at any time of year. It’s located along the border of California and Nevada. In summer it’s paradise for beach goers and boaters, while in the winter months, it becomes a playground for snow lovers, with the surrounding mountains offering excellent trails for skiiers and snowboarders.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite’s dramatic peaks overlooking national parkland have graced the covers of some of the world’s finest travel magazines, and fill the photo albums of every traveller to the region. It boasts valleys, rivers, waterfalls and granite domes along with many other famous sites scattered throughout the park.

Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hang with the stars on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard! Completing the Hollywood Walk of Fame should be number one on every traveller’s to do list. There are more than 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars with the names of iconic actors, musicians, directors and producers embedded in the sidewalks along 18 blocks.