Mix beautiful rolling California countryside, delicious wines, and a plethora of great shopping and restaurants, and Sonoma wine country is the ultimate domestic Honeymoon destination. We had the pleasure of enjoying Sonoma wine road over a long weekend in September in the height of harvest season, and it left an impression on us that can never be erased. Right next to the Napa Valley, Sonoma is the more intimate version of the California wine scene.
We often hear taking a more relaxed approach to Honeymoons as opposed to high intensity destinations. Coming off of a highly emotional wedding weekend can be a lot! You may want to decompress, spend time with your new spouse (oh doesn’t that feel good to say!), and not have to worry about the details! We are laying out our guide to perfect Sonoma wine road honeymoon. Check in later this week for our packing guide essentials for a California honeymoon!
Where to stay?
The town of Healdsburg was the perfect quaint location in the center of it all if you are looking for a variety of dining, shopping, but still want privacy. Boasting a variety of B&B’s, boutique hotels, and smaller Inns, they have you covered no matter what time of accommodations you prefer. I loved staying at Honor Mansion; it’s a full service B&B that hosted smaller cottages over their vast property as well as rooms inside the Mansion.
Every day started with Biscotti’s and fresh beverages delivered to my Bungalow door and a fresh all inclusive breakfast & mimosas on the deck overlooking the Koi pond. It was the most refreshing way to start the day. They often sent me on my way with scratch made cookies and coffee to go! My personal cottage had a splendid outdoor patio and Jacuzzi for a perfect night in with your new spouse! The property has a variety of sporting amenities, a seasonal pool, beverage stations hidden around for refreshments, and offers on site spa services for true luxury living.
Alternatively, H2 hotel is closer to downtown Healdsburg and offers a more modern meets organic approach to accommodations. With an eco sustained roof garden, daily breakfast offerings, and more ergonomic quarters, it is for the city-mooners who still want the personal privacy of a hotel with perks of a B&B. When touring the hotel, I honestly wanted to climb into their Japanese soaking tubs found in each room more than anything!
Touring and Traveling
Our first recommendation is to purchase The Wine Road pass. For $30 it allows you free tastings to their 60+ member wineries. When looking through their Winery Map of the dozens and dozens of wineries, it can get overwhelming to determine where to start and who to visit! Most tastings range from $8-50. Therefore the pass helps take the financial burden off trying something everywhere you visit. The number one reason we love The Wine Road so much? If you’re overwhelmed picking your best vineyards, ask them for help! Their in house Sonoma Wine Road concierge can help find you the best options that will expand and delight your wine palette! (And its a FREE service! How amazing is that!?)
Drinking and driving is always a no go; especially in this case when you’re traveling the winding roads of California. Ubers are few and far between in this area. (I learned that first hand after a night out with the girls and this city chick didn’t want to walk a mile in pitch black dark to my Inn). Aaron of Healdsburg Vino Tours is our pick for absolute wine tour success. A fully stocked luxury SUV will whisk you from location to location, and he had a service that is unparalleled. If you want a wine tasting picnic, he can orchestrate and setup the entire thing so you don’t have to lift a finger. Not just a car service but a full luxury service!
Relaxation is key for a successful honeymoon. There is no better way than a romantic couples massage followed by cocktails poolside at The Spa at Hotel Healdsburg. I have had spa treatments in most major Spa Chains, and a lot of luxury hotels in D.C. but nothing in the world compared to the deep tissue massage I had at the Spa at Hotel Healdsburg! They offer a selection of couples activities including massages, facials, and steam room treatments. Make sure to visit them on a day off from Vineyard touring!
Ever gone up, up, and away? Well you haven’t lived until you have seen sunrise over Sonoma County in a hot air balloon with Up & Away Ballooning. (With your best friend of course!) A very very early wakeup call led us to meet our group for scones and coffee before heading out to a secret location for inflation and take off. I hate heights and flying, so for me I thought this would be terrifying. It was surprisingly calm, easy, and the guide in our balloon made jokes to make us feel at ease the entire time. Post touchdown, you’re taken to Shed for a family style breakfast and mimosas! Best tip: don’t stand back, jump in and help with inflating the massive balloons; it is such a cool experience! DO NOT miss out on this amazing opportunity if you visit Sonoma!
Not to miss Vineyards & Wineries
J. Rickards Winery – I could rave about this quaint location for paragraphs. Run by the “man, the myth, the mustache” himself, J. Rickards stole my heart the moment I met him. Unabashedly in love with the wine making process (and his adorable dog), he can spin tales of vines, wines, and the history of his property over a glass of full bodied red that will leave you wanting more! I will return to this special location each time I head back to Sonoma. It is hands down my favorite location in the entire list on pure love of wine making alone! (It also didn’t hurt that they let us try unfermented Rose which was so cool!)
Francis Ford Coppola Winery – This highly recognized film makers winery holds a full days worth of adventure in its walls. From their cabana lined pool deck to delicious Rustico Restaurant, this location is so much more than a winery. You can spend the day tasting wines, looking through Hollywood memorabilia, or lounging by the pool before heading back to your hotel to turn in for the night. We even heard FFC sometimes pops in and checks on patrons during the day!
Dry Creek Vineyard – Each location I visited was special to me in its own unique way. What stood out to me the most about Dry Creek was the immaculately landscaped grounds perfect for picnicking or playing Bocce while sipping on their wine. A completely family run company, their rich history and story really resonated with me. While I wanted to buy wines at every single vineyard we visited I really loved the whites at Dry Creek. I even sent home a case of varieties of white wine I loved it so much and sadly have all been consumed (meaning I have to go back asap!).
Trattore Farms – Specializing in olive oil and perfectly blended wines, this location has the very best views out of all of our visited properties. Sweeping hills, acres of vines, and they even have a guest house on site you can rent for a truly unique experience! We were able to see them harvesting and processing grapes during our visit, and try them right off the vines! For a very reasonable fee, they offer private property tours and tastings to honeymooners to give a more personal approach to the wine making process.
Blue Rock Vineyard – While a private location that requires advance notice, it is worth the planning to be transported to this little slice of Italy in the foothills of California. Just tell your Wine Road Concierge its a must do! Very new to the Sonoma Scene, their wines are delicious, venue is breathtaking, and the hospitality is a great way to dive into a personalized honeymoon! One reason we love this location so much is the privacy of it all. They have special guest suites and a cottage that couples can rent for the ultimate Wine Country experience. Lets not even talk about the breathtaking lavender gardens that were a must stop photo spot for our group!
Guest rooms and personal suites available to couples on property.
Zialena – Surprisingly to us DC wedding folks, most wineries and vineyards in California do not cater to the wedding events market. Zialena rests on the Valley floor and offers a modern and contemporary aesthetic compared to its fellow wine making counterparts. They have started offering select wedding weekend events, and also host private tastings when booked in advance! We were able to see the red zin making process and the rotation of the wines as they are processed. I really recommend visiting in harvest season for your most authentic wine country experience.
Suppers and Sweets
Healdsburg and Sonoma have turned into quite the culinary adventures in recent years; the variety of bakeries and restaurants give travelers a great variety of options. Many of the local groceries or smaller lunch shops offer to go meals for winery picnics. They can be ordered on the spot or in advance to ensure you never go without nosh while sipping.
Post wine road nights are meant for hearty, soul inspiring meals, and Brass Rabbit has you covered with composed plates of Peasant, Sole, and a Rabbit Pot Pie that is killer. Looking for more spicy flair, try Café Lucia for small tasting plates, Portuguese inspired seafood, and cheeses. While we noshed on Beignets and benedicts over breakfast, Parish Café brings New Orleans to the west coast for all meals. The entirety of the menu from sun up to down looks and tastes amazing!
We loved Noble Folk, a pie and creamery with the most delicious locally sourced confections! And for my personal favorite food moment of the trip, hit up Amy’s Wicked Slush. In a hot pink retro inspired building, this dessert mecca combines flavored soft serve with dense flavored slush. This indescribable treat will leave you wanting more and more. I loved the Tropical Cloud, a combo of Mango Slush and Vanilla Soft serve.
We loved so much about the Sonoma Wine Region. We absolutely cannot rave enough about the unique and fun options available to honeymooners! Check out Apple Brides and BurghBrides take on their experiences in the region if your looking for even more Sonoma Wine Road Honeymoon planning options!