Living in Sonoma for the past five months, I’ve just started to explore the county’s hidden gems. When I first moved here, I wanted to visit all the well-known restaurants and wineries. Soon I realized how expensive wine country can be. Luckily my husband and his friends have been living in Sonoma for years and started taking me to their favorite spots. Many of these restaurants and wineries are budget-friendly and local hotspots. While there are occasions when Michelin Star restaurants (French Laundry, Meadowood Inn) and big name wineries (Domaine Carneros, Sterling) are warranted, most people I know want to relax and enjoy Sonoma without the hype. Almost every week, I get questions from readers asking for suggestions when visiting Sonoma. I’ve put together my list of budget-friendly tips. Let me know if you have any others to add or would like more Sonoma Insider lists!
Budget-Friendly Tips for Visiting Sonoma
- Tasting – Wine tasting at places where the cost of the tasting can go towards a bottle of wine (within your budget) is a great way to explore new wines and see different vineyards.
- Picnic– Bring along cheeses, crackers, sandwiches and snacks since food at wineries are usually over priced.
- Touristy spots – If you really want to enjoy Wine Country, avoid the touristy wineries and restaurants. Yelp it to find local hotspots or ask the friendly staff at the wineries you visit. Check back for more Sonoma Insider tips coming soon!
- Russian River Brewery – Sonoma is also home to the World’s Best Beer – Piney The Elder – from Russian River Brewery. Try the beer tasting over their wood fire pizza on a week day to avoid long lines.
- Coupons – Use apps like Winery Finder to find coupons at restaurants and wineries – two for one wine tasting coupons are great too!
- Festivals / Events – There are lots of annual events in Sonoma / Napa. My favorites are Sonoma Crush, Barrel Tasting Weekend, and the Harvest Festival. During these festivals you get access to lots of wine and food and the admission price is usually under $30.
- Seasons – Little did I know that Sonoma actually has seasons! Check which season is best for you. For instance, I loved September / October during the harvest season when you can taste wine right from the barrels. Eating grapes right off the vines is yummy too!
Outfit Details // Dress – Pankaj and Nidhi from Anthropologie // Shoes – JCPennys// Cuff – Nordstrom Rack
Winery – Paradise Ridge Winery Santa Rosa