Doing Wine Country With Gal Pals

A Three-Day Girl's Guide to Experiencing Sonoma

The best wines are the ones we drink with friends, but it doesn’t hurt to sip vino in the birthplace of California’s modern wine industry. Described as Napa’s rustic, less refined and more relaxed sister, Sonoma is renowned for legendary vineyards, picturesque scenery, and a hot spot for gal pals to relax, refresh and enjoy the company of good friends... and good wines.

If you’re craving a girls-only getaway with your besties, Sonoma is the stunning sweet spot that will stimulate your senses while indulging in a well-deserved escape from the norm. Here’s how to do Sonoma in three days.

Where to stay

A block from Sonoma’s quaint town square sits the lovely Cottage Inn & Spa. Peaceful in setting and with only nine suites, this charming property is perfect to reserve for your party. Many of the suites are equipped with fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, kitchens, and private patios. All stays include access to several common areas and fresh pastries delivered to your room every morning. Massages, body wraps, and reflexology are available at the property’s spa as well.

Day One

After a leisurely arrival at the Cottage Inn & Spa, throw on some boots and get your girls to channel their inner cowgirls. Reserve an afternoon ride with Sonoma Valley Trail Rides. The company’s Bartholomew Estate Experience Ride leads your group through the vineyards via horseback, taking in the scenery atop four-legged gentle giants. Dubbed one of the most unique ways to experience the incredible Sonoma Valley, end your ride with an on-site tasting at Bartholomew. 

Do dinner at Wit & Wisdom. The adorable wine country tavern offers American comfort food with a top-notch flare paired with a robust wine list. The restaurant features regional California cuisine cooked in a hearth oven, and there’s also a bocce ball court making for a fun happy hour with the girls.

Day Two

Set your alarm for 5 a.m. A bucket list adventure awaits.

Grab the girls for an unforgettable morning of ballooning; a Sonoma hot air balloon ride is one of Sonoma Wine Country’s most premier outdoor activities. Courtesy of Sonoma Ballooning, feel a sense of freedom like no other, undoubtedly captivated by the magic and wonder of one of the best balloon rides in the United States.

Your sunrise excursion begins the moment you gather at the Sonoma Skypark for a pilot briefing, then witness the set-up and balloon inflation process. Finally, embark on your 45-minute flight, seeing panoramic views of Sonoma Valley, historic Downtown Sonoma, the rolling hills of Petaluma, the famed Carneros wine making region, and outlying views of the San Francisco Bay. Your post-flight celebration includes a champagne toast.

After the eventful morning, snag a taste of Tuscany in the heart of Northern California. Schedule a noon reservation at Viansa for a Private Outlook Tasting perched along the beautiful hillside vineyard. In one of their custom, intimate Outlooks, your group will enjoy a flight of wines, a charcuterie board, and standout views of the entire Sonoma Valley. 

For your afternoon “happy hour,” head to Sebastiani—a Sonoma tradition for over 100 years. Take your pick between a wine tasting or a BYO picnic. As an alternative to the tasting, Sebastiani gives you the option to reserve a picnic table for up to six guests, where you can bring your own food and buy bottles from the tasting room. 

Day Three

After a leisurely morning exploring Sonoma’s town square, spend the day winery hopping. To kick things off, reserve a 10 a.m. Collector’s Tour at Hamel Family Wines.

The Hamel Family Wines Collectors’ Experience is the quintessential exploration into the winery’s series of allocated Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted with a nice glass during a focused tour of Hamel’s winegrowing and winemaking practices. (You’ll also get a private tasting in the Cave’s Reserve Room!) Once seated, taste-test a handful of their best vinos, accompanied by seasonal culinary plates. 

At 1 p.m., head to Three Sticks Wines for a food and wine pairing. (You surely won’t go hungry during your girl’s trip!) This premiere Three Sticks tasting includes five glasses and small bites crafted in partnership with El Dorado Kitchen. Your Three Sticks experience is particularly special as it takes place in the Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe. Built in 1842 and restored as a historical Sonoma landmark, the Adobe exhibits rich heritage and wildly contemporary interior design. 

Finally, complete your wine-infused final day with a 3:30 p.m. tasting at Jacuzzi Winery. Immerse yourselves in the flavors and feel of Italy. Experience rare California-grown Tuscan-inspired varietals and award-winning extra virgin olive oils. That’s right... wine and olive oil join forces for this delectable tasting experience. 

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