Where to Find Romance in Sonoma Wine Country

A vineyard in Sonoma County, California, in summer Sonoma County Tourism
Whether you’re trying to impress a new sweetie, aiming for the perfect proposal, celebrating your honeymoon, or vacationing for your 50th anniversary, wine country is a wonderful place for romance. This Sonoma-centric tour takes you to the wineries and restaurants best suited for lovebirds.

And for a deeper dive into California wine country, check out Frommer's Napa and Sonoma Day by Day.
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Sunflowers for sale at a farmers' market in Sonoma County, California BA_Banks/Flickr
First, you're going to want to gather supplies (because true romance requires preparation). You can buy flowers and assemble the ingredients for a picnic at one of the farmers' markets in the area (pictured); there's one held nearly every day of the week. Or stop by the deli and sandwich bar at Sonoma Market (500 W. Napa St.), a spot loved by locals for its selection of specialty foods, fresh breads, and reasonably priced wines. If you order 24 hours in advance, the market can have a boxed picnic, including a sandwich, salad, and fruit, ready and waiting.
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Bicycling in Sonoma County, California Nick Nguyen/Flickr
Majestic scenery and relatively flat terrain make wine country a prime cycling destination. To up the romance factor, rent a bicycle built for two. The experience is especially fun if you’ve never tried this kind of riding before. As in any relationship, communication and listening are key to success.
 
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A glass of white wine from Ravenswood in Sonoma, California Andreas Kollegger/Flickr
If strong wine makes for strong love, then Ravenswood (18701 Gehricke Rd.) is the place to bolster your affection—the winery’s motto, in fact, is “Zero wimpy wines.” Tour the vineyards and cellar; a barrel tasting is included.
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Sign for Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma, California Sonoma County Tourism
The big tasting room at Sebastiani (389 E. 4th Street) might be crowded, but that’ll just push the two of you closer together. Besides, after tasting the cabernet and merlot, and strolling the historic grounds hand in hand, you’re liable to forget about everybody else. Or you can always plan ahead to arrange for a customized private tasting.
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Two picnickers in Sonoma, California Sonoma County Tourism
Time to unfold the picnic you bought earlier. Gundlach Bundschu (2000 Denmark St.) has a bunch of areas that are perfect for an outdoor lunch. Remote hillside tables and the olive grove near a pond both overlook the valley. If it's spring or summer, you might catch a music performance in the outdoor amphitheater (check the website's event schedule for show times). If you prefer a restaurant lunch on the plaza, there's a romantic patio at Della Santina's (133 E. Napa St.).
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A statue on the grounds of Bartholomew Park Winery in Sonoma, California Bartholomew Park Winery
At Bartholomew Park Winery (1000 Vineyard Lane), you can share tastes of limited-production wines, then explore the historical museum, memorial park, and hiking trails. Or simply sit and enjoy the views—on a clear day, you can see all the way to San Francisco.
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Barrels inside the Buena Vista Carneros Winery in Sonoma, California Scott Chebegia/Sonoma County Tourism
Founded in 1857, this estate (18000 Old Winery Rd.) holds the distinction of being California's first winery. The place inspires romance with its ivy-covered buildings, antique fountains, and restored 1862 press house, where you’ll find the tasting room.
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Schug Carneros Estate Winery in Sonoma, California Schug/Israel Valencia
In the cozy tasting room at Schug Carneros Estate Winery (602 Bonneau Rd.), sip European-style wines before strolling the grounds to see the herb garden, the duck pond, and the spectacular view. You might be able to make out Mt. Diablo in the distance.
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Vineyard at Arrowood Winery in Glen Ellen, California Bobbi Bowers/Flickr
More than 25 years ago, a married couple founded Arrowood Winery (14347 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen) on a hillside overlooking Sonoma. Today, their love for each other and for wine is evident in the bright tasting room. After sampling the wares, go out onto the veranda and gaze on Sonoma Mountain and the valley.
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Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma County, California Sonoma County Tourism
Romantic in a more academic sense of the word (it has a bit of a nationalistic French feel about it, though “Jean” is pronounced the American way), this chateau (8555 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood) provides a nice setting for whispering sweet nothings to your honey. It’s got a fancy visitor center, a small art gallery, and a formal garden with a pond.
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Grand entrance to Ledson Winery in Kenwood, California Sonoma County Tourism
Fairy-tale architecture, complete with regal gates, a castle, and a fountain-centered courtyard, might make you feel like storybook royalty at Ledson Winery (7335 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood). For an intimate dinner once you get back to your hotel, pick up a to-go meal at the winery’s gourmet market—don’t forget a bottle of pinot noir or chardonnay. Ledson has pretty picnic grounds, too, if you’d rather eat al fresco. For a romantic sit-down meal, head to Napa to dine at the 15-table La Toque (1314 McKinstry St.), where chef Ken Frank serves up excellent French cuisine.
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