9 Tips for Exploring Sonoma County Vineyards

A hot air balloon floats over Sonoma Valley.

To embrace the beauty and bounty of the scenic vineyards in this renowned region, here are some immersive ways you can experience the extraordinary sights and tastes of Sonoma Wine Country.

Start your adventure with these fun tours on bikes, trolleys, hot air balloons — or your own two feet. You can also enjoy a luxury shuttle tour, which provides a professional guide to help select wineries to visit with insider access, like visits with winemakers or picnics in the vineyards.

Some top tour companies include Pure Luxury Transportation, Platypus Wine Tours, Wine Country Chauffeur, Woody’s Wine Tours, and Beau Wine Tours. Many wineries offer self-guided or guided tours of their vineyards; find all Sonoma County wineries here.

Here are tips for exploring Sonoma County’s vineyards and wineries:

Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures

A sign explaining the vineyard adventure program looks out on the vineyards
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

This program encourages you to enjoy no-appointment, complimentary, self-guided vineyard tours at many top wineries, like Matanzas Creek Winery, with its expansive lavender fields. The trails are no more than a mile long and relatively easy to walk. Please check availability with each winery before visiting, as programs may change.

Getaway Adventures

Two people cycle past green vineyards
Getaway Adventures & Rentals

Cycle along quiet back roads where every turn brings a picture postcard view of sun-kissed vines, olive trees, and golden hills. Follow your professional guide to family-owned wineries and savor the vintages of the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. Peddle a total of 10 to 12 miles, stopping at three to four wineries. Enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch.

Sonoma Valley Bike Tours

Take a half-day or one-day guided tour of the Sonoma Valley, with a relaxed trip of three to six miles between winery stops and lunch. Follow your local expert to two boutique and family-owned wineries on the half-day tour, or visit three on the full-day trek. You can also rent bicycles and plan your own adventure with tips from the experienced staff, plus a box picnic lunch and wine purchase pick-up service. 

Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley

The motorized cable car is parked next to a palm tree in Sonoma
Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley

The views are even more magical through the open-air windows of this trolley car! Ride in an authentic, old-fashioned replica of a vintage 1890s San Francisco cable car with modern appointments like an iPod dock and rockin’ sound system, which makes this six-hour, four-winery tour a rolling party. The guides like to keep it fun, all the while pointing out landmarks and sharing Sonoma County stories. Visit four boutique Sonoma wineries and enjoy a picnic lunch catered by the girl & the fig.

Kunde Family Winery

Explore the 1,850-acre volcanic property on a hiking-and-tasting program designed for outdoor and wine enthusiasts. This moderately strenuous trek takes guests from the Sonoma Valley floor to the Mayacamas mountain range and lasts about four hours, including a tasting at the winery and country lunch. Kunde also occasionally offers this hike as a dog-friendly option, led by owners Jeff and Roberta Kunde and their two dogs.

Artisan Wine Tours

Lin Durling, founder of Sonoma-based Artisan Wine Tours, focuses on creating customized wine tours and ‘dream adventures’ for discerning travelers. His specialty is relationships — with wineries, restaurants, planning coordinators, transportation providers, and guides — for bringing his customers authentic behind-the-scenes experiences.

Hot Air Ballooning

A hot air balloon soars above rolling vineyards
Up & Away Ballooning

Many of us have dreamed about soaring in a hot air balloon over Sonoma Wine Country, and really, what better way is there to take in a birds-eye view of gardens, rolling hills, forested mountains, and vineyards thriving in emerald green grape leaves? Seen from above, Sonoma County looks like a large latticework of intricate trellising, rolling across hills and valleys. Sheep, cows, goats, horses, and even the occasional bison or llama look like toys. The sun dapples across lakes, creeks wind like ribbons, and old barns dot the fields. Flights can stretch up to four fabulous hours, usually finished off with a sparkling wine toast. 

Segway of Healdsburg

Glide on self-balancing, electric-powered transportation (a Segway) to two beautiful boutique wineries on the Russian River Vineyards Deluxe Tour by Segway of Healdsburg. The two-hour tour includes a 20-minute introduction, safety, and training session. Then, follow your guides on a unique and exhilarating ride filled with beautiful vistas and vineyards. For additional Segway tours of the greater Sonoma Valley, check out Sonoma Adventures

Rollin F Ranch

People ride horses in the vineyards
Rollin F Ranch

Enjoy the views on horseback as you ride through vineyards, huge oak groves, and woodlands on a private working ranch just outside of Sebastopol. Owned by the Fiddler family for more than 100 years, Rollin F Ranch grows Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah wine grapes, organic Gravenstein apples, and wild blackberries, with vegetable and flower gardens scattered around the ranch. The guided scenic horseback tour lasts about an hour. For more options, check out Sonoma County on Horseback.

Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.

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