It can be quite overwhelming to figure out where to stay in Wine Country, California when there are over 4,000 wineries in California alone, according to statista.com.
Slipping away to Wine Country means breaking away from time and space, even if it’s just for a short weekend. You’ll be greeted by golden sunsets, golden glasses, and aficionados who take their expertise to a whole new level.
It’s our hope that you’ll live the Napa dreams most of us only long for. Ready for total mind, body, and spirit relaxation? Then, let’s get planning!
Sonoma is one of the finest places to start your wine country tour. With over 60,000 acres of vineyards and over 1,000 growers therein, your palate is in for a ride. Sonoma County Wine is noted for the following varietals: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Zinfandel. Hence, you’ve got everything covered, from the dry and refreshing to the sweet and uplifting.
While you’re on the hunt for the Cabernet of your dreams, be sure to check out, at least, these three wineries: Benziger Family Winery, Korbel Winery, and Gundlach Bundschu Winery.
Benziger is a big name in the business and you’re likely to find their varietals even when you return home. They were awarded the People’s Choice Award in 2016 for the best wine tour. Their grounds are staggering and you can feel their commitment to health from the sustainable farming methods that they employ.
Pop a bottle whenever you hear the name Korbel. They’re the creators of some of the finest champagne this side of France. It’ll be so much fun to try each of their selections as you tour the grounds. You’ve got the sumptuous Sweet Rose, all the way to the extra dry. A tour with your friends and family, coupled with a sparkling glass of elegance – you’ll remember it for years to come.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery is California’s oldest family-run winery. Even though the Buena Vista Winery is older, Gundlach has managed to keep it running in the family for six generations. When you’re there, you’ll rise above the hills of California and look down upon the majestic fields of grapes. This sight will surely become a part of the countless memories you’ll make here in Wine Country. Not to mention, these guys do elegance, and they do it well. You will definitely enjoy a tour but, if you’re lucky, you would visit on a night when they have live music or poetry readings! Check their calendar of events before heading over!
And, finally, you must be wondering where to rest at the end of these sparkling days? Well, we’ve got a couple selections for you. First up, you may want to consider staying at Kenwood Inn and Spa. Located on the northerly edge of the Sonoma County, it’s a well-reviewed zen locale where you can dine and luxuriate in some of the sweetest pools, spas, and baths.
Next on our list, the El Pueblo Inn. It’s neatly tucked away under sturdy palm trees and shades of wonder. It’s as lush as it can be, encapsulated in a beautiful building with cloud-soft bedding that’ll make you fall asleep in peace and awake in anticipation of a new day of excursions.
For one last sensation, you’ve got The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa. The name pretty much says it all. It’s got the comfort of a lodge and the luxury of a resort and a spa. It mixes elegance and leisure with perfection. The beds are what dreams are made of and the staff is the epitome of friendliness. Indeed, you’ll be glad to call The Lodge home after a long day out in the California sun.
Benziger Family Winery
Website: Benziger Family Winery
Website: Korbel Winery
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Website: Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Kenwood Inn and Spa
Address: 10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452
Price: from 289 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.1 (from 67 reviews)
El Pueblo Inn
Address: 896 West Napa Street, Sonoma, CA 95476
Price: from 249 USD
Travelers Review: Excellent 8.9 (from 1,253 reviews)
The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa
Address: 1325 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476
Price: from 209 USD
Travelers Review: Very Good 8.5 (from 168 reviews)
San Luis Obispo Wineries, otherwise known as SLO, take the slow and easy and turn it into the smart and fanciful. You can cover these grounds easily, as they only encompass a 20-mile (32-kilometer) radius. This region had begun its wine-growing heritage back in the 1800s when Spanish settlers were running the game. Indeed, you’re going to find some of the most interesting wines during your journey through the SLO wineries. While you’re here, you’re going to want to take on the unique taste of a Gruner Veltliner, a Pinot Gris, and a local Zinfandel.
The top picks on our list of wineries include Wolff Vineyards, Baileyana, Tangent Zocker and True Myth Tasting Room, and Chamisal Vineyards.
At Wolff Vineyards, you’re going to want to dip into their Pinot Noir. They often make limited edition magnums of this varietal, so they’re not messing around when they put out this tasty treat. Their tasting fee is 10 USD but that’s refunded back to you if you decide to purchase one of their bottles of wine. Easy sell, right? Their panoramic views will steal your breath away and you can even embark on a little picnic that’ll fill both your belly and your soul.
Doesn’t the name “Baileyana, Tangent Zocker and True Myth Tasting Room” just call out to you? This is a family-run operation that works out of a precious 1909 schoolhouse. The views overlooking the California mountain ranges will tickle you pinker than that Zinfandel you’re sipping on. If you’re traveling in a large group, this is the place to go. Their tasting sessions last as long as you like, and everyone can settle in for a decadent picnic after that and even go a few rounds in bocce ball!
Chamisal Vineyards also offers a Pinot Noir for the books. Their Grenache is also particularly noteworthy. Here, you can embark on a private tour and a tasting, then bask in the glow of the California sun on their picnic patio. Their vineyards are maintained with a precision that’s unrivaled and the views are as stunning as they come. With friendly staff and a low-key environment, this is a tidy little treasure worth checking out during your stay in this gorgeous corner of the world.
As for where to stay, the Avila Lighthouse Suites is one that you should not miss out on. They’re situated along the ocean, in an endless array of beauty. The grounds literally sparkle at night. You’re only a minute’s walk away from the ocean and even if you don’t feel like traveling that far, they have the most decadent pool and grounds for you to enjoy.
Next up, you have the Inn at the Cove, which is aptly named for its privacy and positioning above the ocean. You’ll be perched atop breathtaking cliffs that overlook a neat, little cove and you’ll be welcomed by some of the finest staff in the hospitality business. The rooms are delightful; the beds are sumptuous, and only one thing’s for certain. You’ll be sad to leave when the time is up.
Finally, you might want to check out the Cliffs Resort. Much like the Inn at the Cove, the name says it all. You’ll be perched atop a series of cliffs that sway with freshness and calm. You’ve got hot tubs, saunas, well-manicured grounds, fine dining, and everything else to make this your temporary home away from home. They, too, combine coziness and elegance in a perfect balance. Indeed, the ocean breezes are enough to carry all your troubles away.
Website: Wolff Vineyards
Baileyana, Tangent Zocker & True Myth Tasting Room
Website: Chamisal Vineyards
Avila Lighthouse Suites
Address: 550 Front Street, Avila Beach, CA 93424
Price: from 299 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.2 (from 186 reviews)
Inn at the Cove
Address: 2651 Price Street, Pismo Beach, 93449
Price: from 186 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.0 (from 707 reviews)
The Cliffs Resort
Address: 2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach, CA 934
Price: from 189 USD
Travelers Review: Excellent 8.6 (from 596 reviews)
Ah, Napa Valley Wineries. Napa is almost synonymous with “Wine Country”. It’s a place that everyone wants to go, for a good reason. Not only will you be able to take in gorgeous views, as all of the neighboring wineries offer, but you’ll also find unique and eclectic wines within these fertile lands. While you’re here, keep your ears perked for varietals such as Opus One, Rubicon, and Dominos. These are examples of the red wine blends Napa Valley is known for. Many of them are based off of Cabernet Sauvignons, so they’re going to be packed with flavor.
While you’re here, be sure to check out these big names in the business: Castello di Amorosa, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Domaine Carneros.
Castello di Amorosa is as beautiful as its name implies. This is a 13th-century-style winery that offers castle tours and tastings of Italian-inspired wines. When’s the next time you’ll stroll through a Tuscan castle with a delicious glass of Cabernet in hand? There’s no other winery in Napa Valley, or anywhere in America, that rivals the beauty of these grounds. If you’ve been knee-deep in the hustle and bustle of life, this is the place to get away from it all and embark on a magical affair with vino.
Next up, we had to include the Robert Mondavi Winery. Much like our friends over at Beringer in Sonoma, you’re likely to come across this name, no matter where you return home to. The sunlight sparkles and shimmers through the trees here, wrapping you up in a Chardonnay dream. As soon as you drive onto the grounds, you’re going to feel as though you’ve been swept away to another realm. But, here’s the real secret. You must reserve your spot in their after-hours fireside tasting with artisan cheese.
From Castello di Amorosa’s Italian dream to Domaine Carneros French-inspired chateau, you’re not only going to be swirled into French-inspired vineyards, you’re also going to stroll through some of the most show-stopping gardens this side of the Eden. With a Versailles feel, it’ll be hard to know where to start. It’d be best to embark on a tour first, so you can understand the true depths of what you’re sipping on, then you simply must soak up a tasting overlooking their stunning grounds. Louis XVI would be impressed! Given their penchant for all things French, don’t go home without a bottle of their bubbly!
Goodness, where to stay in Napa Valley is like trying to lasso the moon. But, we’ve narrowed down our top three picks. Here they go.
First up, you have the Bel Abri Napa Valley Inn. With a 9.1/10 on Booking.com and over 200 reviews, you know they’re doing something right. Their interior decor is particularly notable. You can tell they’ve spent a lot of time on every last detail, from the wall color to the throw pillows. The beds are delightful, the bathtubs are a soaker’s dream, and the staff is as lovely as that red blend you have enjoyed during your dinner.
Next, we have the Milliken Creek Inn and Spa. If you select one of their finest rooms, you’re looking at a working fireplace, slanted ceilings, fresh orchids, and some freestanding tubs that’ll make you swoon. Remember that bottle of bubbly you bought at Domaine Carneros? Yup - it was made for these tubs.
Finally, The Cottages of Napa Valley are a real treat. If you want quiet seclusion, run - don’t walk - to The Cottages. Each cottage takes elegance and charm and plops it right in your lap. Make your own delicious blend of coffee in the morning, sit around the fire pit at night, and know that you’re safely tucked away in a place with only a handful of miles between you and those gorgeous vineyards.
Castello di Amorosa
Website: Castello di Amorosa
Website: Robert Mondavi Winery
Website: Domaine Carneros
Bel Abri Napa Valley Inn
Address: 837 California Boulevard, Napa, CA 94559
Price: from 189 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.1 (from 230 reviews)
Milliken Creek Inn & Spa
Address: 1815 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Price: from 299 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.4 (from 110 reviews)
The Cottages of Napa Valley
Address: 1012 Darms Lane, Napa, CA 94558
Price: from 305 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.1 (from 13 reviews)
To compare Mendocino County Wine to the other counties, here’s a good approximation: Sonoma has over 60,000 acres of fruitful terrain while Mendocino has 15,000. Here, you’re going to find quaint elegance and delicious varietals. Hopefully, you’re still on the Pinot Noir bandwagon, as Pinot Noir claims about 70% of this terrain.
Some parts of the Mendocino County dance along the Pacific coastline and, if you’re a sucker for an ocean breeze, here are two of the finest: Pacific Star Winery and Comptche Ridge Vineyards. Then, for something a little more inland but equally show-stopping, be sure to check out Toulouse Vineyards and Winery.
Pacific Star Winery - we’ve been waiting to get to this one! Here’s an example of the manner in which people rave about Pacific Star: “I’ve traveled the globe and I’ve never encountered a place with such splendor and beauty.” Goodness, where should I begin? For starters, they’re propped atop cliffs that take on the stunning quality of the Big Sur. Let the waves crash beneath your feet while you sip on varietals that were nurtured in French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels. This may be the best winery in California, simply for its setting. You’ll never forget it.
From the cliffs of Pacific Star to the forest-filled landscape of Comptche Ridge Vineyards, Mendocino County Wine epitomizes “the stuff that dreams are made of.” This family specializes in limited productions and rare varietals. Thus, it’ll be nice to embark upon a Hansel and Gretel-type adventure only to sip on golden goodness you know you won’t soon find again.
Toulouse Vineyards and Winery wraps you up in the sweet embrace of Anderson Valley. We’re talking towering redwoods and one-of-a-kind oak trees that stretch across the steep cliffs overlooking the Navarro River. This property is so unique, it’s worth every ounce of adoration. We have included a lot of big names in this article for the excitement that you’ll feel when you’re back home in North Carolina or Arizona, but Toulouse is special because of their unique quality. If you can, sneak a bottle or two in your luggage for a special evening when you wish to reminisce about your memories in Wine Country.
Well, if we’re setting you up for wineries that overlook the ocean, you know we’re going to set you up in similar accommodations. If it were up to us, we’d all be staying at the North Cliff Hotel. When you look out your window in the morning with sleepy eyes, you’ll think you’re looking at a gorgeous painting. Nope - this is your life. With stunning views, cloud-soft beds, whirlpool tubs that long to be accompanied by a bottle of champagne, this is a top quality spot you’ll think about years after this trip has come to an end.
Next up, we have Little River Inn. Their locale is similar to the quaint peace that The Cottages offer. It’s quiet, luxurious, and highly reviewed with a 9.2/10 and 258 reviews on Booking.com. The location is prime, the onsite restaurant is divine, and the only thing you have to prepare for is the quintessence of peace.
Now, for the creme de la creme. How does an Adirondack chair, a glass of Pinot Noir, and an open expanse above the cliffs of the Pacific sound? Elk Cove Inn and Spa glows with elegance, welcoming you to a level of rustic chic you never knew existed. It, too, is quiet, tucked away in the hills of California, and staffed with some of the finest friends you’ll meet on your West Coast adventures. Rooms vary from quaint little hideaways to full kitchen getaways. Wine, decadence, and elegance. Who could ask for anything more?
Pacific Star Winery
Website: Pacific Star Winery
Comptche Ridge Vineyards
Website: Comptche Ridge Vineyards
Toulouse Vineyards & Winery
Website: Toulouse Vineyards & Winery
North Cliff Hotel
Address: 1005 South Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Price: from 209 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.1 (from 707 reviews)
Little River Inn
Address: 7901 North Highway 1, Little River, CA 95456, United States of America
Price: from 175 USD
Travelers Review: Awesome 9.2 (from 258 reviews)
Elk Cove Inn & Spa
Address: 6300 Hwy 1 S, Elk, CA 95432
Price: from 145 USD
Travelers Review: Exceptional 9.6 (from 88 reviews)
Lake County Wineries are situated north of Napa, nestled in some of the loveliest mountain regions California has to offer. Here, Cabernets abound, with Merlot coming in second place. But, in truth, it’s all about the Cabernet here because Merlot comes in a very distant second. Imagine 8,000 acres of Cabernet dreams. This is a nice change of gears from the oceanside retreats that the other counties have to offer.
Be sure to travel to these three wineries: Brassfield Estate Winery, Laura Michael Wines, and Gregory Graham Winery. Many of them dance around the perimeter of the notable Clear Lake high up in these hills. To call the views stunning is a blase rendition of the natural wonders that await you.
Brassfield - doesn’t the name evoke visions of brass-colored trees swaying in the breeze? That’s not too far off the mark! Their gorgeous estate is set in the foothills of rolling, golden hills that overlook vistas housing lakes, mountains, and soft, flowing clouds. Make sure you stroll through the fields of this estate, embark on one of their tours, and enjoy their tasting room.
Laura Michaels has another one of those “nestled in the foothills” settings. It’s as lovely as can be. They’re lovers of all things Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay, so be sure to bring a bottle of each back to your hotel, as you soak in your tub, munch on a square of cheese, and delight in these California wonders. This winery is run by a loving couple who only wants to show the world how a single grape can transform every day of your life.
Gregory Graham is another small wonder that’ll leave you fighting the battle between living in the moment and snapping as many pictures as you can. They, too, offer those wide panoramas high up in the hills of California while you soak in the sun and sip on their grape varietals. Also, fret not. Even though this is a smaller winery, you can always have them ship your favorite home!
Now, for your lodgings. Things tend to be a little more rustic up here. But, fear not. With the likes of Thorn Hill Vineyards Villa Suites, you’ll know you’re still in a California haven. We would liken these accommodations to a Tuscan dream. With splashing fountains, mountain views, and marble counters that lead to bathtubs which seem like they were made for the gods, there’s little we can’t say about this spot. You can even go for the full-kitchen accommodations if you’re looking to slow things down and stay for a while.
Next up, we have Skylark Shores Resort. Again, this is a little more down-home than some of our other cliffside retreats, but there’s nothing but ambiance here for the tried and true traveler. Actually, fishers love to come to this spot for a sweet retreat. The staff here is friendly and the views expand out over the most translucent lake. You’ll have everything you need right here, especially when you consider that bottle of Brassfield goodness you brought home for the night!
Lastly, we have something a little more removed, but certainly worth the extra mileage. The Lodge at Blue Lakes is everything it sounds like. It’s cozy and efficient, with all the makings of a restful stay. It serves up the most gorgeous lakeside panoramas and has a similar set of soaking tubs that you’ll never want to step out of. The staff here is delightful and, personally, we suggest you splurge on their breakfast in bed one morning!
Brassfield Estate Winery
Website: Brassfield Estate Winery
Laura Michael Wines
Website: Laura Michael Wines
Gregory Graham Winery
Website: Gregory Graham Winery
Thorn Hill Vineyards Villa Suites
Address: 8170 S. Highway 29, Clear Lake Riviera, CA 95457
Price: from 250 USD
Travelers Review: Excellent 8.8 (from 1 review)
Skylark Shores Resort
Address: 1120 North Main Street, Lakeport, CA 95453
Price: from 115 USD
Travelers Review: Very Good 8.0 (from 93 reviews)
The Lodge at Blue Lakes
Address: 5135 West Highway 20, Upper Lake, CA 95485
Price: from 119 USD
Travelers Review: Excellent 8.7 (from 258 reviews)
The wonders of California
It’s no wonder people flock to California year after year. This is, undoubtedly, one of God’s wonders. To think such varied terrain - from the shorelines of the Pacific to the mountains of Mendocino - can produce such delights is a wonder in and of itself.
When you pair all the gorgeous inns and lodges that decorate this land, it’s a win-win situation. Leave your cares behind. Prepare to drink up equal amounts of golden sunlight and golden Chardonnay.
Savor the moments brought to you by this transformative corner of the world and carry a little piece of it in your heart, wherever you go next. Until we meet along the Pacific shorelines of paradise, I wish you the safest of travels and the happiest of memories.