The Perfect Mid-Week Wine-Lover's Itinerary
How can you make your dream Wine Country vacation even dreamier? A slight tweak in scheduling might just deliver more R&R for less money. The trick lies in integrating weekdays into your itinerary.
While it can be a challenge for some folks to steal away mid-week, for those who can swing it, the benefits of taking a weekday break cannot be underestimated. In Sonoma County, perks include less crowds, better bargains, and distinctive experiences.
With any luck, you won’t have to choose between a weekend getaway and a weekday escape, but can simply combine these approaches in an extended stay. According to research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the ideal length of a vacation is eight days, which means you’re better off lingering longer. If you can, give it a try – your body and soul will thank you.
If you’re a wine-lover taking a mid-week trip to Sonoma County, make the most of your stay with some of the following outings and expeditions.
Book a Luxe Stay for Less
Many lodging properties in Sonoma County, from luxury hotels to camping spots, offer special deals for mid-week stays. This can include special mid-week wine tastings hosted by local winemakers that are free for guests.
Offers run the gamut and change frequently, so make sure to check out our offers page when planning your trip.
Take a Specialized Vineyard Tour
Committed oenophiles know it takes more than good glou to make for a compelling winery visit. Truly top-notch tastings and tours offer specialized formats to engage visitors on a deeper level. During a weekday, the swill-chasing party crowds are at a minimum, so you’re sure to get quality attention from your guide. There is no better time for a tour!
For those curious to learn about sustainable vineyard practices, it’s hard to top the Biodynamic Tram Tour at Benziger Family Winery. For four decades, the Benziger family has farmed an 85-acre plot of vines in Glen Ellen. Since 2000, all of its vineyards have been certified biodynamic; later, the winery was named a “Green Revolutionary” by Wine Spectator.
To get a lay of the land, head to Kunde Family Winery, an 1,850-acre mountain-top property offering stunning vistas of the Valley of the Moon and surrounding areas. (If it looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen it in the movie “Bottleshock.”) Tour formats vary and can be tailored to your group. The winery even offers dog hikes, led by fifth-generation winegrower Jordan Kunde, for guests who travel best with their canine companions.
Want perspective on early American winemaking history? Head to California’s first premium winery, Buena Vista. Stroll the grounds, enjoy a barrel tasting, explore the old press house, and explore the unique Wine Tools Museum, which displays harvesting and winemaking implements through the centuries.
If you’re as interested in reading about wine as you are drinking it, make a stop at Sonoma County Wine Library, housed within the Healdsburg Regional Library. Since 1988, the one-of-a-kind collection has served industry leaders and everyday wine-lovers alike by offering a trove of books on wine history, production, and cultural commentary, as well as viticultural maps.
Go Local at the Farmer’s Markets
The saying goes, “If it grows together, it goes together.” Nothing pairs with Sonoma County wines, then, like produce and food that’s locally grown, sourced, and produced. At Sonoma County’s farmer’s markets, which typically run from May through October, weekdays are the ideal time to find stellar eats (and thriving community, too).
On Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Healdsburg Farmer’s Market welcomes the public at the intersection of North and Vine streets, one block west of the town plaza. One of the original certified farmer’s markets in California, this beloved gathering offers everything from cheese and honey to olive oil and fresh eggs.
Later in the day, in downtown Sonoma, Valley of the Moon Farmer’s Market runs on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. until sundown. Join in for boisterous live music, delicious wood-fired pizza, local seafood, gorgeous produce, and local winemakers pouring their finest bottles.
On Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Santa Rosa Community Farmer’s Market draws a heavily local crowd in the Farmers Lane Plaza. This is one of the area’s few year-round markets that can be enjoyed in any season.
Cut Loose at Happy Hour
Few occasions unite humanity like happy hour, when discounted drinks and nibbles invite deserving folks of all walks of life to gather and unwind. In Sonoma County, happy hours range from casual to refined. Find your crowd – and your favorite drink – at one of the following weekday hotspots.
On “Vinyl Mondays” at the Starling, a favorite dive bar in Sonoma, bartenders set the mood by spinning records from the establishment’s vast collection. The bar also serves up $7 martinis, along with $5 Chicago hot dogs, from 5 to 10 p.m. On Wednesdays, you’ll find $3 tacos and $7 whiskey punches.
With $1 oysters, $5 wines, and $3 beers, happy hour at the farm-to-table haven Central Market in downtown Petaluma offers one of the better deals in town. If you’re looking to transition into a sumptuous meal, stick around for dinner!
With an expansive lounge, cozy fireplace, and rollicking grand piano, Stark’s Steak & Seafood offers a classic ambience that immediately puts guests at ease. Indulge shamelessly in truffle fries, calamari, Moroccan chicken meatballs, and stellar cocktails.
Written by Amy Bess Cook