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What to Expect When Visiting Sonoma County Wine Country

Sonoma County Expert

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Travel in 2020 looks a lot different this year. Nevertheless, we think Sonoma County is naturally a place to enjoy wide open spaces and a little (or rather a lot) breathing room, thanks to scores of off-the-beaten-path wineries, unique private outdoor experiences, 55 miles of coastline, and hundreds of miles of nature trails. The summer days are long and warm, the hills are popping with color, and the vineyards are lush, signaling a fall harvest that's just around the corner.

However, there are a few things you should know as you're planning to visit. See our Sonoma County travel tips below, and as you plan your trip, review our SAFE Travels Promise.

What To Expect 

Face coverings are required  

Safety, and health, first! Wearing a face covering is mandatory in California when in public settings. Be sure that this covers both your nose and mouth. This helps protect employees, residents, and even you. So, as you’re visiting restaurants, wineries, and other businesses, you’ll notice employees wearing masks, and we ask you to do the same. 


Wine tasting, and dining, al fresco 

It truly couldn’t be a better time to wine taste and eat outdoors because of the long, warm sunny days of summer in Sonoma County. Since many indoor activities are temporarily on hold, wine tasting and dining still goes on outdoors. While not all restaurants have outdoor space, many are offering takeout, so you can pick up food and drinks to go and take it to a nearby park, riverfront picnic area, or a Pacific Ocean overlook. Below are a few recommendations: 

Picture of food and wine pairing at St Francis Winery & Vineyards
St Francis Winery & Vineyards

Give yourself a little more time 

Restaurants, wineries, breweries, and hotels are all committed to guest safety and well-being, which means added measures like higher standards of cleanliness and frequent sanitation. As such, things like checking into your hotel, getting seated at a restaurant, or entering a state park may take a little bit longer.   

Group sizes are limited

Current guidance from health officials limits the size of groups at restaurants, wineries, and other establishments. We recommend calling ahead regarding availability and requirements about group sizes. 

Summer 2020 Travel Tips 

Keep two arms’ length, or 6 wine bottles, apart 

We previously mentioned the face covering requirement, but the CDC also continues to recommend physical distancing of at least six feet. That’s 6 wine bottles apart, or the approximate space between vineyard rows. 

physical distancing

Wash and Sanitize 

Current guidelines also continue to recommend washing your hands often, and for at least 20 seconds, and when soap and water isn’t readily available, using hand sanitizer. Many local businesses have hand sanitizer for you to use, but if you didn’t bring your own, many distilleries are making their own sanitizer, with some even offering bottles for free with the purchase of spirits. 

Confirm what’s open and call ahead 

Most businesses are open in Sonoma County. That said, the level of openness varies from business to business. A good starting place is our resource page, which talks in general terms about what’s open. To find out about specific businesses, we recommend calling ahead to confirm hours and availability. 

Make reservations 

Most wineries are requiring appointments, and reservations are also highly recommended for dining at many restaurants. While some businesses have online booking available, many require calling ahead. Considering protocols and seating availability, we recommend making reservations as far ahead of time as possible. 

Get outdoors 

Picture overlooking Pacific Ocean on the Kortum Trail
Kortum Trail

During the heart of summer, now is the perfect time to spend outdoors in Sonoma County. Given its largely rural character, Sonoma County is naturally set up to physically distance and discover wide open spaces. Take a hike along ridgelines perched above the Pacific Ocean, grab supplies at a local market for a picnic, or book a private food & wine pairing. Explore our outdoor activities page for recommendations.

Review our SAFE Travels Promise 

Finally, as you make your travel plans to Sonoma County, we ask that you review our SAFE Travels Promise. Be smart. Be safe. Be kind. Stay healthy. 

Safe travels logo

For more information, visit our resource page that has the latest info on what’s open, health protocols, and additional resources.