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Jun 19, 2013 11:57 AM

Sonoma Itinerary Check (or Napa instead?!)

Hi everyone,

I know there are some Sonoma/Napa threads already, but to be honest, it was just too overwhelming with the amount of information.

My mom and I are planning a day trip to either Sonoma or Napa. We haven't decided yet whether to go on a tour, but because we would rather not be with a large group of people and want to have some time to do our own thing, we are currently leaning towards renting a car.

We want to hit 3 or 4 wineries and grab lunch and dinner while we're in wine country. (Mom doesn't want to do a picnic, so restaurants only. She also can't eat cheese or butter, so pizza-centric places are kind of out, too! Unless they have a good selection of other food.) We're on a budget, so we're not looking to eat at super fancy places (think $$$$ on Yelp), but we may be able to splurge for one meal if the food is THAT good (think $$$).

A friend of mine who has been to Sonoma suggested the following wineries (we want to stay relatively close to the town)... revisions/suggestions? (Also FYI, the mother is a big Pinot Noir fan. We also love the bubbly!):

Bartholomew Park
Gundluch Bundschu

If we were planning to do Napa instead, what would be four wineries and a couple restaurants relatively close to the "downtown" area you would suggest?

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  1. You have a great list and there is no reason to head to Napa, especially if you want to stay with Pinot and Bubbly.

    I would stick to the Carneros region where you can have Taittinger for bubbly and a great view.

    For lunch, I would recommend Rins Thai on the Sonoma square which is light and dairy-free and more refreshing to keep your palate alive. Then come back to the square for dinner, either to La Salette or Girl & The Fig. You will do considerably less driving if you stay in Sonoma and eat on the square than if you head to Napa.

    4 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Rin's Thai closed...

      Sunflower Cafe is nice at this time of year with well shaded outdoor patio out back. Several dairy-free choices on the menu too.

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Thanks for the suggestions!

        We're planning to go to Sonoma on a Sunday (8/4... it's some time away, but I'm kind of type A, and I do have the rest of my SF trip to plan!)... I'm stuffing a lot into one day, but I think it's doable. Please check out my itinerary:

        1. Tasting at Scribe
        2. Tasting at Domaine Carneros
        3. Lunch at Sunflower Caffe OR Sunday Brunch at the Girl & the Fig
        4. Tasting at Bartholomew Park
        5. Tasting at Gundlach Bundschu
        6. Dinner at Harvest Moon OR Cafe La Haye OR Hot Box OR Della Santina

        And if we can, we want to drop by Crisp Bake Shop for some goodies.

        Which of my lunch and dinner options sound the best to you?

        1. re: ejk8789

          I'm afraid I have not heard any good reports from Harvest Moon. I think Cafe la Haye and Della Santina are both about the same - la Haye is slightly more eclectic while DS is a bit more traditional.

          (I'd still suggest La Salette over all three)

          p.s. Thanks, Columba, for letting me know about Rins Thai... I haven't been to Sonoma for about six months and usually not down that street to see. Pity about it - I liked it...

          1. re: ejk8789

            If I were tasting at Domaine Carneros, I would have lunch at Boon Fly (inside) or Fremont Diner (outside) rather than come back to the Sonoma Plaza for Sunflower Cafe (which is fine, but nothing really special). Neither are very expensive, unless you do like I do and order too much at Fremont Diner because it all sounds so good.

            For dinner, I strongly prefer Cafe La Haye over Harvest Moon or Hot Box or Della Santina. La Salette is also very nice.

            I strongly recommend Crisp Bakery for a goodie if you have room for it!

        2. You didn't ask this, but consider hiring a driver. You can do your own thing, and taste without driving tipsy or more (perhaps this is why you considered a tour). The lady I've used calls ahead to the wineries to check the crowds, has good recommendations, and is a gem.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mamacooking

            We did consider it, but all the ones we found were just too expensive. If you know one that isn't too expensive, we'd consider it...

            1. re: ejk8789

              This post talks about hiring a designated driver to drive your rental car and that it costs less than limo services.

          2. dkenworthy's suggestions are all great-- I live in Sonoma and frequent the Fremont Diner weekly because it is so awesome. If you like Mex there is also a wonderful little place called El Molino on route 12. Boon Fly also serves a great dinner. Gloria Ferrer does a good bubbly too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: goodeater

              Hi goodeater & ejk -

              Love El Molino food, but seating is hard wooden benches behind kitchen or shaded picnic tables in parking lot.

              Not where I'd take my mother on a special mother/daughter adventure.

              Sunflower has decent food AND you can kickback & put your feet up during a busy day.

              Girl & Fig is another restful option with dairy free food.

              happy travels!