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Best area to stay to experience wine country

Auckland, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
14 reviews
Best area to stay to experience wine country

We have never been to San Fran,napa etc. We have a car and a couple nights to experience wine country. We will be traveling from fresno . Do we stay Napa or Santa Rosa?. Also was thinking of going sacramento? Is that a nice place to see and what is there to do. Thank you for your help.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,769 posts
149 reviews
1. Re: Best area to stay to experience wine country

Santa Rosa is a huge city and part of Sonoma county and Napa city is part of Napa county I would do Napa valley so do read up about Napa valley at visitnapavalley.com or stay in Healdsburg or Sonoma instead

Each city had a forum and a section called things to do. Sacramento is the state capital and has a nice museum

Why not go to the state forum read top questions and post your overall itinerary. SF needs 3-4 full days

Edited: 16 January 2016, 05:12
Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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33,321 posts
6,456 reviews
2. Re: Best area to stay to experience wine country

There are two winery regions - Sonoma and Napa.

In terms of wineries, Sonoma will have more smaller wineries and generally less expensive tasting prices.

Napa is a valley with several cities in it. Napa is at the south end of the valley; Calistoga on the north end.

While there are some smaller wineries, many are very large with more expensive tasting fees than Napa.

Both areas are delightful to visit.

If you want to combine your trip with winery visit, seeing Armstrong Redwoods State Park, and seeing the Pacific ocean (Jenner to Bodega Bay - famous for Alfred Hitchcock the Birds Movie), then Sonoma is a better choice. Healdsburg is a more charming town than Santa Rosa. Sebastopol is also a nice place to stay close to Santa Rosa with less expensive lodging. It has a charming downtown area.

For historical places to stay in Sonoma, then the Sonoma Plaza area is very nice.


In terms of wineries there are so many.

Some do tours. If in Sonoma, Benziger is a popular place to go.

St. Francis has a superb wine and food pairing.

In Napa, there are several good tours.

Mondavi does a very good overview of Napa Valley if interested in finding out more about the entire region.

There are so many fun things to do in either area there is no best place to go....

either would be delightful.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,628 posts
26 reviews
3. Re: Best area to stay to experience wine country

Fresno to Napa or Sonoma is 4-5 hours of not particularly scenic driving. Why Fresno?

Santa Rosa is a large town/small city and not a place I'd recommend for visiting wine country. But there are loads of places in Sonoma county to stay that are in wine country. Napa county has Napa town, St. Helena and Yountville.

Sacramento has an old town but after that, not much in the way of tourism.

If you post your itinerary on the CA forum, along with who is in your travel group, your dates and the things you want to see we can probably give better advice. For example, Fresno isn't a place people flock to. Neither is Sacto. But the perspective of your entire trip would be helpful.

Edited: 16 January 2016, 17:25
Chicago, Illinois
8 posts
4. Re: Best area to stay to experience wine country

We went last summer and planned on splitting a week between Napa and Sonoma (cities). After visiting both areas we wound up cancelling the Napa reservation and extending our stay in Sonoma. The reason being it was closer to the types of wine were were looking for. I like zins and the wine in Dry Creek was fantastic. We also like chards - and were delighted with the RR wines. We found the city of Napa to be huge and Sonoma to be more walkable for us.

We are going back this summer and I'll preface that we are using hotel points. Having hotel points may not mean we stay in charming B&B's. However 'free nights' = more wine shipped home:) We have chosen Santa Rosa for a portion of our week due to it being centrally located to many areas conducive to this year's quest of finding awesome chards. We can hit Sebastopol, Carneros, Chalk Hill, Healdsburg... And still come home to a great selection of restaurants and (sacrilege I know) craft beers. We are also thinking of going to hike the Redwoods, eat oysters on the coast and visit a portion of the Cheese Trail. For us, those are more accessible from Santa Rosa than Sonoma and definitely easier than base camping in Napa.

We are betwixt and between beginning our trip in the Mendocino/Lake County area (haven't been there yet) or investigating Calistoga a bit more.

Personally, I would not squeeze in Sacramento - we spent a solid week in wine county and are flying back again because we haven't fully explored the area.

5. Re: Best area to stay to experience wine country

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