The best stays and eats along your Sonoma Wine Tour

by Patricia Stone, a travel writer and consultant at

About Sonoma CA

Cradled by the eastern Mayacamas Mountains and western Sonoma Mountain range, peacefully lies Sonoma Valley.  Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Sonoma is home to the 1823 Mission San Francisco Solano, the last and northernmost of California’s 21 missions.  The Mission and other historical buildings surround the town Plaza where the Bear Flag Revolt took place in 1843.

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Today, locals flock to the Tuesday evening Farmer’s Market to gather fresh produce and mingle with other town folk.  Many vintners have moved to this Valley to harvest the Zinfandel/Primitivo grape varietal.  During our brief visit, we took a dip in the mineral thermal springs at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, walked the Sonoma Town Plaza, visited the San Francisco Solano Mission, enjoyed an afternoon summer lunch at The Girl & The Fig, and attended a wedding in the Northern Sonoma Valley.

If you are planning a visit to Sonoma for wine tasting, a wedding, or a spa getaway, here are a few recommendations during your Sonoma wine tour:

How to Get There?

Napa Valley Tours & Transportation (NVTT) :

Napa Valley Tours & Transportation delivers the red carpet & white glove service!  For 15 years, President Michael Graham has operated a family-owned company that provides full transportation, with a fleet of hundreds of vehicles.  NVTT will get the right vehicle to suit your needs from town cars to buses.

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Charles & Mike raise the bar for Chauffeurs – they are professional, prompt, and share local knowledge and insights that are invaluable.  NVTT’s concierge service helps you to plan your trip and make the most efficient use of your time.  Elaine’s thorough planning and preparation ensured a wonderful experience for us.  We were picked up from SFO, and had a smooth drive to Sonoma, ~40 miles north of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.  For reservations, call #707.251.9463 or #888.946.3859

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Where to Stay?

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission & Spa

This top spa is located a few minutes from the town center, we found The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn to be an ideal home base during our Sonoma Valley visit.  The Fairmont Sonoma is a Wine Country retreat with the Willow Stream Spa, a championship Sonoma Golf Course and signature restaurant, the Michelin award winning Santé.  For reservations, call #1 866 540 4499 or email:


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Where to Eat?

The Big 3:  The Big 3 is known for their breakfasts!  Located within a block of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, and a few minutes from our room.  We suggest starting your day here with a hearty country breakfast – our favorites included their famous Lemon Pancakes,  and Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict.

The Girl & The Fig: Restaurant Owner Sondra Bernstein and her staff serves up “country food with a French passion”.  Her dishes are jam packed with seasonal goodness from Sonoma’s ground, tree, nearby sea & vine and brought to the table.  The menu offers a variety of dishes paired with figs and other delicacies.  We sat on the patio terrace and started our fig odyssey with a Fig Royale toast, a concoction of French sparkling wine with house-made fig liqueur.

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We sampled an appetizer of “The Works” – house-made fig cake, cured meats, local cheeses, giant capers.  The Signature Grilled Fig & Arugula Salad with toasted pecans, pancetta, chevre, fig & port vinaigrette is a MUST!  Then onto Entrees…we shared our platters of Grilled Pork Tenderloin with fennel, figs, garden apricot jam, house-made mustard, the Duck Confit with red pearl onions, carrots, spinach spaetzle, and walnut vinaigrette.  And topped our fig feast off with house-made ricotta & St. Jorge – local blueberry jam, spiced nuts & fig cake.  For reservations, contact:  707.938.3634

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What to Do?

Relax at The Willow Stream Spa – there are many places to relax at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn – courtyards, room terraces, mineral thermal pools, The Loggia, or the 40,000 sq. ft. spa – the Willow Stream Spa.

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Feel the healing powers of the mineral thermal waters in the pools, and then recline into bliss.  Our masseuse mentioned that this spa, is “one of the only resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.  All of the resort’s pools, as well as the European-Style bathing ritual are fed by these natural waters.  Our Spa pays homage to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, which believed in the axiom ‘Sanitas Per Aquas’….”  Great way to “wine down”!

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Golf:  The Sonoma Golf Course is within a mile of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.  Designed in 1928 by Sam Whiting, architect of San Francisco’s Olympic Club Lake Course, the 18-hole course is set on 177 acres of open, picturesque fairways lined with massive oaks, lakes and mountain vistas.  The pro shop told us that the course offers “7,100 yards from the championship tees, and this classic layout offers strategic choices and challenges that excite golfers swinging graphite and titanium just as it did when they were carrying hickory and persimmon.”  Golf at Sonoma Golf Club is reserved exclusively for Sonoma Golf Club Members and guests of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.

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Photo credits:  The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

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Explore the Historical Town Plaza:  patterned after a Mexican town, historical buildings line the Plaza square.  We enjoyed strolling through the park, and stopping into some shops, wine tasting rooms, restaurants, as well as visiting the Sonoma Mission.  There are local markets, festivals and other events that take place here throughout the year.

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Wine Tastings:  Some of the wineries we recommend include Deerfield Ranch Winery, Hanzell Vineyards, Gloria Ferrer Caves.  To help you plan your wine tours, we suggest calling NVTT and/or The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn where the concierges can help you plan your golf, spa and Wine Country tastings with specially designed packages.  Or if you want to do some research, visit the Sonoma County site:  

Plan or Attend a Wedding:  there are many locations in the Sonoma Valley where lovebirds “tie the knot”.  The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa provides a beautiful setting for weddings and can accommodate small to larger groups.  We attended an intimate wedding ceremony at The Kenwood Inn & Spa.


Travel Acknowledgements

Thanks to Napa Valley Tours & Transportation, The Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa, and The Girl & The Fig for hosting us during our stay!

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