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24 Hours In Sonoma County, California With RIISE

18/06/24

Author: Elizabeth Roberts

DOCUMENTED BY: RIISE

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Just a few hours drive from San Francisco, Sonoma County is an incredible part of Northern California where forests, meadows and rivers are bordered by sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs. It’s also one of the most famous wine growing regions in the world, boasting over 400 wineries.

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Everyday Mini Baguette

Brie Leon

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Emma Silk Halter

Dominique Healy

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Willow Skirt

OpéraSPORT

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Hermione Hoop Earrings Two-Tone

Monarc Jewellery

Documented By: RIISE

Just a few hours drive from San Francisco, Sonoma County is an incredible part of Northern California where forests, meadows and rivers are bordered by sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs. It’s also one of the most famous wine growing regions in the world, boasting over 400 wineries.

With an ideal climate for cultivating grapes, Sonoma County has more soil types than all of France, giving the wine here a depth of character and huge amount of diversity. Its vast geography, from oak tree-studded vineyards to verdant valleys and an 80 kilometre stretch of coastline, provides different microclimates that allow over 60 grape varieties to flourish. The result is an astonishing offering of wine all underpinned by the joy of drinking it.

Sonoma County is also a leader when it comes to sustainability. An impressive 99% of the vineyard acreage has been awarded sustainable certification by a third party. There’s a strong focus on regenerative farming and agriculture; locals are well aware they have been spoiled with nature’s bounty and are dedicated to preserving it.

RIISE founder Sara Bell and I were recently lucky enough to visit this special place – and we managed to squeeze a lot into one day. Find our itinerary below for how to spend 24 hours in Sonoma County.

Morning

Coffee at Layla

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Documented By: RIISE

Morning

Coffee at Layla

We started the morning at Layla with a coffee (espresso for me, an oat cappuccino for Sara). With a warm and communal ambience, the cafe is located within the sprawling 6-acre grounds of MacArthur Place, an award-winning hotel and spa in downtown Sonoma. While we were there, fellow patrons included a dachshund who occupied his own chair and spent most of the time looking longingly at the brunch options - which included dishes like kale quinoa salad decorated with blistered tomatoes.

Lunchtime

Wine tasting and lunch at Scribe Winery

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Documented By: RIISE

Lunchtime

Wine tasting and lunch at Scribe Winery

The story behind Scribe Winery is fascinating. The original founders lugged their vines to Northern California all the way over from Italy. During prohibition, the matriarch of the Mariani family had most of the vines pulled out and planted fruit for consumption instead. The founding brothers must’ve turned in their graves! The vines were eventually re-planted on this picturesque property that is less than 10 minutes from the main part of Sonoma. We’d recommend hiring an electric vehicle when in Sonoma as Ubers are few and far between. It does mean one poor guest has to be designated driver, but it makes things a whole lot easier. We did the Hacienda tasting, sitting outside but shaded from the beautiful Californian sunshine. It felt very Nancy Meyers, sitting on the veranda and feasting on local produce. We sampled five wines including a Sylvaner, a grape variety I had never tried, which is originally from Germany and similar in taste to a Riesling. We were looked after by Cate who combined a deep knowledge of local history with the Scribe wines and the joy of everything that goes into making wonderful wines.

Visit Bodega Bay

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Visit Bodega Bay

Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline is rugged but beautiful. Think wide stretches of sandy beaches, sweeping cliff faces, rocky inlets and hidden coves. Bodega Bay is a charming fishing village, used as the location for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Somewhat ironically, this town is known for its bird-watching. Here, you can go hiking, biking, whale-watching or even horseback riding. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? Take up a spot in the sunshine at one of the many seafood restaurants’ outdoor tables and enjoy fresh oysters, crab sandwiches or pan-seared scallops while observing the meditative rise and fall of fishing boats on the horizon. Keep your eyes out for seals swimming in the water; we spotted some.

Afternoon

Wine tasting at Medlock Ames

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Viola Top

OpéraSPORT

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Luca Shoulder Bag

Brie Leon

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Juliette Earrings

AGMES

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Afternoon

Wine tasting at Medlock Ames

This minimal intervention vineyard brings together a love of organic wine and dedication to mindful farming. Medlock Ames was founded more than two decades ago by college friends, Chris Medlock James and Ames Morison, who first had the idea over a bottle of wine at the apartment they shared as roommates in New York. They resuscitated a neglected vineyard in the late ‘90s and today have achieved certifications for their regenerative farming practices. We did the tasting at their Historic Healdsburg Tasting Room, which was just over half an hour drive from Scribe. We tried four wines – all fantastic – and had the most amazing conversation with our host about climate, sustainability and regeneration.

Wine tasting at Drink Region

Offering over 100 wines sourced from multiple vineyards throughout Sonoma County, Region is basically a whole wall of wines. You get a chipped card (kind of like a credit card) that you insert into a machine, which then allows you to choose how much you want (a taste, half glass or full glass) and then you pay at the end. It was a clever way to taste a whole range of wines from different benchmark wineries.

Evening

Dinner at Spinster Sisters

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Documented By: RIISE

Evening

Dinner at Spinster Sisters

We were attracted by both the name and the menu of this downtown Santa Rosa restaurant. Built in the 1920s, the restaurant used to be an Italian market. The owners had five daughters, two of whom never married and lived upstairs - hence the contemporary incarnation being named in their honour. We were fascinated to learn that the word ‘spinster’ didn’t originally have the negative connotations that it carries today. Prior to 1900, the term referred to single women who worked as wool spinners; they were financially independent and did not need to rely on marriage for their livelihood. The dining room is decorated with artworks by local artists, which rotate every two months. There’s a great buzzy energy, a wide range of wines and cocktails and incredible produce headed up by chef Liza Hinman. I’d suggest the chilled carrot soup and the cauliflower steak in particular. 

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Luca Shoulder Bag

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Emma Silk Halter

Dominique Healy

Willow Skirt

OpéraSPORT

Hermione Hoop Earrings Two-Tone

Monarc Jewellery

Everyday Mini Baguette

Brie Leon

Viola Top

OpéraSPORT

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Luca Shoulder Bag

Brie Leon

Juliette Earrings

AGMES

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