Known as the “Valley of the Moon,” Sonoma Valley lies between the Mayacamas Mountains to its east (which separate the valley from Napa Valley) and the Sonoma Mountains to its west. It’s an historic region, home to the oldest commercial winery in California, Buena Vista. Though there are cooler pockets, where white grape varieties thrive (including Sonoma Mountain, Bennett Valley and Los Carneros, all sub-AVAs of Sonoma Valley), the low-lying valley floor gets hot enough to produce heat-loving grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The wineries of Sonoma Valley are easy to access from the city of Sonoma, where there’s no shortage of great shopping, dining and lodging options. Check out the original Williams-Sonoma store, the impossible-to-miss Spanish mission on the town square, or any number of great restaurants (Girl & the Fig; El Molino Central; El Dorado Kitchen). – Esther Mobley