Tasting wine in Sonoma County is a lovely experience, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break — maybe get a little exercise.
Here are a few wineries, divvied up by outdoor activity, that are ready to give you a Sonoma Wine Country-style taste of that good ol’ sporting life. As some activities are seasonal, it's a good idea to check with each winery for more information.
Goodtime Touring Company offers leisurely bicycle tours with wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley. The regularly scheduled 12-mile, five-hour winery lunch bicycle tour visits some of the most outstanding wineries surrounding the town of Sonoma, as well as interesting locations that highlight local and California history.
Full-day bike tours are also available in the Glen Ellen or Kenwood area (in northern Sonoma Valley) or on customized routes. All tours include a leisure/comfort bicycle, helmet, delicious picnic overlooking vineyards, and transportation of any wine purchases. Costs start at $129 per person for the regular tour. Van tours are also available.
Thanks to the many Italian immigrants who settled in Sonoma County in the 19th century, bocce ball has long been popular here. Descended from an ancient game of the Roman Empire, bocce involves rolling metal or plastic balls on long smooth courts. It’s a social game with plenty of opportunity for laughter and joking around.
Many wineries throughout Sonoma County offer bocce ball courts to visitors. It’s fun to kick back with a glass of wine and watch a competition, or even join in and play yourself. Here are a few “bocce” wineries to check out as you travel around the county:
- Alexander Valley: Pedroncelli Winery
- Dry Creek Valley: Family Wineries Dry Creek Cooperative
- Geyserville: Francis Ford Coppola Winery
- Healdsburg: Armida Winery, De La Montanya Winery & Vineyards, Martorana Family Winery
- Sebastopol: Graton Ridge Cellars, La Follette Wines at the Barlow
- Sonoma Valley: Chateau St. Jean Winery, Imagery Estate Winery, Landmark Vineyards, Larson Family Winery
Free Walking Tours
Thanks to an innovative and free program known as Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures, you can visit some of the region’s outstanding wineries and take a free walking tour of their vineyards. Most of the walks are easy, but a couple are geared to regular walkers and hikers. The terrain varies — from valleys to mountains — but the locations are always beautiful.
When you visit one of the wineries below, stop in the tasting room to pick up a detailed walking-tour guide to the vineyard. Points of interest will be clearly marked along the route.
If you feel like it — there’s no obligation — you can stop in the tasting room after your walk and sample wines made from the vineyards you’ve just seen (the walking tour is free, but wine tasting fees may be charged).
The participating wineries are:
Bartholomew Park Winery in Sonoma Valley is located inside Bartholomew Park, which includes a fairly rigorous three-mile trail. This trek takes you past a small mountain lake and offers wonderful views from the top. The hike ascends for the first half, passing through numerous eco-niches before descending back to the winery. Don’t undertake this hike without proper trail shoes (running shoes with a good tread are fine).
Kunde Family Estate Winery in Kenwood offers a monthly hiking-and-tasting program designed for outdoor and wine enthusiasts. The guided hikes explore the 1,850-acre volcanic and vertical property, are moderately strenuous, and take guests from the Sonoma Valley floor to 1,400 feet into the Mayacamas mountain range.
Hikers walk with long time employee John Hartman on a fun and casual hike that lasts about four hours. Hikes begin at 9 a.m. Tour fee is $30 per person ($15 for wine club members).
The winery also offers dog-friendly hikes led by Jeff and Roberta Kunde and their two dogs; four hours, ending with a wine tasting and wine country lunch; $60 (a portion of this fee is donated to Canine Companions and the Sonoma County Humane Society).
Triple Creek Horse Outfit, located in the town of Kenwood in the Sonoma Valley, offers guided Wine Country rides at Jack London State Historic Park along 20-plus miles of trails. The park is home to ancient winery walls and vineyards planted where London himself once grew grapes.
Rides cost $75-$275 per person depending on the length of the ride, whether it’s a group or private ride, and if lunch is included; riders must be at least 8 years old and weigh less than 210 pounds; hand-led rides are available for younger children.
Wine Country Trail Rides in Healdsburg, founded by former polo player Rafael Hernandez, offers trail rides through 1,300-plus acres of vineyards and views at Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery. Rides accommodate children as young as 7, and sport horses are available to riders who qualify. Ride through lush green vineyards woven among native oak woodlands, meadows, and streams in the rolling hills of Northern California’s wine country.
Take the family swimming at Geyserville’s Francis Ford Coppola Winery, the only winery in the county where you can jump in the water. With a combined 3,600 square feet of space, two swimming pools are connected by a swim-through where jets of water form a small “bridge” for you to swim beneath. When you’re not swimming you can relax in comfy chaise lounge chairs surrounding the pool area.
A daily pool pass allows entry to the pool ($35 adults and $15 children). Or rent one of the 28 cabines (European-style changing rooms) for the entire day. Cabine rental ($170-$215) includes pool entry for up to four people, with four lounge chairs and the use of four towels. Cabines are safe places to store personal items, and contain private showers and towels.