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Jun 28, 2007 05:14 PM

Sonoma in September

Upon advice, I am posting this on this board. It was also on the wine board.

Six of us want to do a wine vacation in September or October in the Russian River Valley. One is disabled with a service dog. We want to spend 5-7 days. Where do we start in planning? All are foodies. Need recs for places to stay, to drink to eat. Would like places with fairly easy accessibility (a few steps are ok). Chardonnay and Pinot Noir drinkers.

All help is appreciated.

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  1. Lots of recent Sonoma posts - strongly recommend doing a search first (not only on "Sonoma" but also on "Healdsburg". Also, half of the time, queries for Napa end up being full of good Sonoma suggestions. Finally, include "2007" in your search terms, since there's no default sort by date.

    For that many people, and that long of a period of time, I would rent a house in Healdsburg. Google "vacation rental Healdsburg". Or start one night in the town of Sonoma, then work your way up to Healdsburg.

    Here's a list of dog-friendly rentals:

    The dog should feel at home at Joseph Swan and Russian Hill wineries... they always have dogs running around... I like their wines, too. (Zin, Pinot, Syrah, sometimes Cab from Joseph Swan; Pinot, Syrah, Chard (a nice steel-fermented non-MLF one) from Russian Hill. Both are off River Road in Windsor. Martinelli is on that road as well.

    Printable winery map:

    1 Reply
    1. re: daveena

      A service dog is allowed everywhere as far as I understand. There might be a problem with accessibility. A few wineries are challenging if going for a tour. If it is just the tasting room you are interested in, that usually is not as big an issue. The larger wineries often have handicapped parking spots nearby.

    2. The San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent online guide to the Wine Country. It should be very helpful in planning your trip. Here's the link:

      1. Check out It's the website for the Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association. It has a calander of events, maps, contact info on all Russian River Valley Wineries.

        Also, I just had a lovely lunch at Stella's Cafe, the new location at the old Topolos Restaurant-located on Hwy 116 in the heart of RRV. It was wonderful. I had the ahi wraps, seared rare wrapped in a light flakey dough. 2 others in my group had a delicious looking thai orange shimp salad. They had a comprehensive wine list and delicious food. The service was a tad off, but not enough to detract from the meal. One note was that the background music was very strange. It was a series of "songs" that sounded like chanting, suffocating monks. We enjoyed our lunch nonetheless. I would reccommend.

        1. Renting a house is a very nice idea. Try the Balalaika Guest Homes in Rio Nido ( They are about 2 seconds from Korbel and then you can just hop on Westside Road and hit all of the Russian River Wineries. Its nice because you are close enough to the wineries but just off the beaten path so you dont have to deal with the Santa Rosa traffic and things like that. Also try Madrona Manor and the Vine Hill House. Make sure you visit the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce and get a Russian River Wine Road Map. They also usually have Wine Road Tasting Passes that let you taste for free anywhere in the area so ask for one of those.
          My favorites:
          Hop Kiln
          La Crema
          J Vineyards
          Rodney Strong
          If you used you can search for what type of wines you like and by region. They also have nice maps you can print out.
          What type of restaurants are you looking for? Casual or Fine Dining? Atmosphere? Cuisine?