Top California Wine Tours
Some of the top California wine tours can be found right here in Sonoma County. Thanks to the diverse geography of Sonoma County and the creativity of wineries and wine tour guides, visitors will find both spectacular views and intimate experiences in Sonoma County wine country.
Let's look at a selection of Sonoma County's best wine tours in two categories: tours offered by wineries, and multiple winery visits offered by tour companies.
Sonoma County Wine Cave Tours
On a hot day in Alexander Valley, it's a cool 60 degrees or so in the wine cave at Healdsburg's Alexander Valley Vineyards. Guided tours of this cave, essentially a great big tunnel running through the tasting-room-adjacent hillside, are offered for free, two times a day — barrel taste included.
During the 90-minute Barrel Tasting and Winery Tour of this 1857 Sonoma landmark, your guide—costumed in the period garb of founder "Count" Agoston Haraszthy— shares tales of his storied career while you explore the winery's hand-chiseled, Tokay-style champagne cellars.
Available only by appointment, Kunde's private group tours include guided visits to the soaring, chapel-like cave that lies beneath this Sonoma winery's hillside vineyards. Set 175 feet beneath a Syrah vineyard, this cave tunnels through five-million-year-old volcanic lava flowsfor more than half a mile.
For more ideas, read Guide to Visiting Wine Caves in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County Vineyard Tours
Benziger occupies such a beautiful location on Sonoma Mountain, it was a film location for the Keanu Reeves film, A Walk in the Clouds. But beauty's not the only story here: the stops on Benziger's fun, tractor-pulled "tram" tour highlight the winery's commitment to biodynamic farming. Be on the lookout for charismatic, long-haired Scottish Highland cattle.
Renowned for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Jordan's Estate Tour & Tasting introduces you to its sprawling 1,200-acre property from the comfort of a luxury tour bus. Ride along dusty roads through rugged cattle country and vineyards, stopping by a tranquil pond for an educational tasting, and arriving at an elegant gazebo with 360-degree views of Alexander Valley for the main course.
Known for its German wine varietals since 1858, "Gun-Bun" is also a destination for fun and adventure, offering two types of excursions through its Sonoma Valley/Carneros vineyards: walking tours (that also include a peek at their wine caves) and open-air rides in their own Pinzgauer, a funky Swiss Army military vehicle.
Take a free self-guided vineyard tour in one of the eight wineries participating in this program sponsored by the Sonoma County Winegrowers. The trails are no more than a mile long and relatively easy to walk, and points of interest will be clearly marked along the route. At each site, stop in the tasting room to pick up a detailed walking tour guide to the vineyard. For more details, check the list of participating wineries.
Bus, Bike, and Alternative Tours in Sonoma County
This family-owned company operates a 27-vehicle fleet, from stretch limos to sprinter vans to party buses, for all occasions. Their Healdsburg Wine Tour offers a variety of experiences that can be customized to fit your interests, from exclusive and private vineyards to emerging mom-and-pop wineries to the grandiose and legendary estates of the region. And the Santa Rosa Group Wine Tour (about 3.5 hours long) visits three respected Santa Rosa area wineries, making it great for visitors who want a sample of what the area has to offer in a limited time frame.
Flexibility is key with Platypus, as well as insider info about Sonoma County wine country. Individuals and small groups can hop on and off the bus at public locations and arrange to be picked up at their hotel, or book a charter tour for groups.
Seen throughout California wine country, this full-service company operates not only the familiar motor coaches, but also vehicles from hybrid sedans to stretch limos. Your ultimate large party and corporate group transportation, Pure Luxury puts together customized private tours.
For more than a decade, Woody has tasted thousands of wines, and cultivated relationships with hundreds of winemakers. These relationships allow Woody's Wine Tours to create custom tour packages that are pure entertainment, with an intimate connection to the wine country that you'll never forget.
An antique-styled alternative to the luxury bus, the Wine Trolley operates a hand-built replica of an 1890s San Francisco cable car for groups up to 28, and daily tours through the Sonoma Valley area. Get on at Sonoma Plaza, visit four wineries, and have a picnic lunch by local gourmet favorite restaurant the girl & the fig.
There is so much great food and wine on offer in Sonoma County, active visitors might want to consider a six-day luxury bicycle tour with Getaway Adventures to help work it off. Fully supported, but with challenging ride options that include parts of Levi Leipheimer's Gran Fondo route, the ride includes meals, baggage transportation and, of course, great Sonoma County wine.
For an easy, self-guided tour on mostly flat ground, visitors seeking an easy ride to wineries without much traffic can spend an afternoon on the West County Regional Trail. Winding through the beautiful, cooler-climate Green Valley of Russian River Valley appellation, the West County Trail is mostly off-road but paved, and passes by 'secret' entrances to local wineries and one maker of refreshing, top-notch sparkling wine.
Written by Sonoma Insider James Knight