For a true fall getaway, follow scenic two-lane highways to the incomparable Sonoma Valley, nestled on the eastern edge of Northern California's Sonoma County. With fewer visitors on the roads and the gentle perfume of fermenting grapes in the air, autumn makes an ideal time to sample Sonoma's beauty and abundance.
In October and November the valley's grapevines slowly change from summer's deep greens to shades of bright yellow, dusty gold, rusty red, and deep burgundy. Soft daylight often bathes the rolling hills and gentle fields with a golden glow. Daytime temperatures are typically mild to warm, even a bit hot at times, but cool nights prevail.
Restaurant menus reflect the change of season, highlighting the delights of autumn vegetables. And in the wineries, the frantic pace of harvest gives way to slightly less harried cellar work. The last of this year's grapes are crushed, processed, and put into barrels, while vintages from a few years ago are taken out of barrels and onto the bottling line.
This two-day itinerary lets you explore Sonoma Valley from south to north, but feel free to reverse the direction, and to pick and choose from these activities to create your perfect weekend adventure.
Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.