Lush vineyards aren’t the only things rolling in Sonoma Valley these days. Casual cruiser biking is one of the best ways to see the sights and taste the wines! The key: Pedal the country roads and paved bike paths that start right from the historic plaza.
Rent a bike at one of the two local bike shops, ask for a map (or pick one up at the visitor center), then start your two-wheel winery roll. The roughly 10-mile route we recommend leaves from the plaza, cruises past vineyards large and small, and along oak- and eucalyptus-lined streets.
First up: family owned and run Gundlach Bundschu, which despite its popularity is still all mom-and-pop charm. This is a great place to picnic with your wine: Tables are located by a small lagoon and perched up on a hill with a view of the grounds. Continue on the most scenic (and hilly) part of the ride along narrow Thornsberry Road as it winds past country homes (there’s some whoopdeedoo downhill towards the end).
Buena Vista Winery is next, and you’ll want to spend some time here. As the oldest winery in California, it’s a registered landmark, with a Great Gatsby–style champagne lounge (yes, true champagne!), a wine cave filled with massive barrels, and a stellar two-level stone building tasting room that’s 100% unpretentious elegance.
When you’re ready, hop back on the bike; you’re only 2 miles from the plaza (with Ravenswood and Sebastiani wineries as tempting nearby detours), where you can grab a bite to eat and, yes, taste more wines. Way to freewheel!
BONUS: On Saturdays be sure to roll on up to the Harvest Market at Sonoma Garden Park (every Saturday through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 19996 7th Street East, Sonoma). Friendly people, fresh produce, olive oil, beautiful gardens, and free range chickens make this a delightful place to explore between wineries.
STAY: Sonoma Valley has plenty of great B&Bs and lodges. Romantics will like the modern and intimate Cottage Inn & Spa. Located a block from Sonoma’s plaza, the tranquil inn has a central fire-pit lounge with a glass roof to let in the starry nights, a garden courtyard for yoga or just kicking back with a glass, and bikes on-site to explore the area.