As with Napa County, Sonoma County has one main route that runs from its southern end to its northern border. That's Route 12 in the valley, connecting in Santa Rosa to Route 101, which continues north through the Russian River region to Healdsburg.
In the valley, most of the wineries are right along the main highway, though of course some are a short drive away along connecting country roads. Up toward Healdsburg, you'll have to leave the main highway to get to the bulk of the wineries, which are located on routes along the Russian River, such as Westside and River roads.
If your primary purpose in visiting this part of Northern California is to sample its many fine wines, be careful not to get behind the wheel if you have been indulging in the tastings. Drunken driving is a recipe for disaster in a place like Sonoma County, where virtually every driver on the road during the peak summer tourist months will have imbibed at least a bit before getting behind the wheel. Avoid accidents by selecting a designated driver or by leaving the car behind and using another form of transportation to the wineries. Yes, the driving is easy in Sonoma County, but only if you're sober.
Sonoma County Transit operates the buses in this part of northern California. You can check out routes and even order a bus pass online at
Routes are a different story. They'll get you from main area to main area, but all that money you saved by taking the bus might have to be spent on taxis to get you from the bus stop to the actual wineries. Some of the available daily bus routes include:
Russian River area to Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa to Sonoma Valley
Petaluma to Santa Rosa
Bicycles are allowed on some of the buses, and some of the bus stops have bike racks. Check out the Sonoma County Transit Web site for more detailed information.
By Hired Car
As you might imagine, there's a good business to be done in ferrying wine lovers from vintner to vintner. Plenty of car and limousine services are available, including some that offer Wine Country packages.
Wine & Roses Limousine Service
As this company's name suggests, its drivers bring wine and roses (as well as fine chocolates) to your driving experience. Its fleet of Lincoln Town Cars, Escalade Limousines, Rolls-Royces, and more can be rented by the hour or by the day. The company's Sonoma Wine Tour package includes croissants to line your belly on the way up to Wine Country, as well as snacks to help keep you going throughout the day. Learn more at
This company offers Sonoma County wine tours that can begin or end at any hotel in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Tours typically include at least four of the county's wineries as well as a stop for lunch around midday — and you can customize the itinerary if there are specific wineries you would most like to see. Expect to pay at least $300 for six hours. For a specific price quote, go online to
Elite Limousine Service
The people who run this car service claim to be wine aficionados themselves — which should serve you well when it comes time to decide exactly which wineries are worth a visit in Sonoma County depending on the day's traffic congestion. Standard tours are available, as are customized itineraries. Published rates start at $325 for a six-hour tour, and hourly rentals are also an option. Learn more at
If you want to get around Sonoma County by bicycle, you'll have a good number of options. There are companies that allow you to rent bicycles by the hour, join a one-day or multiday tour, or organize a group tour to suit everyone in your family. Biking from the southern edge to the northern tip of Sonoma County is probably an impractical idea unless you're in training for the Olympics, but if you want to stay around a key town or two, bicycles can be a safe alternative to driving a car and an inexpensive alternative to renting a limousine with a driver.
The Sonoma County Transportation Authority devotes an entire section of its Web site to downloadable PDF maps showing existing and proposed bicycle routes. There are maps that show the entire county, plus others that focus on cities such as Sonoma and Santa Rosa. The site also posts tips for riding bicycles in traffic. Check them out at
Wine Country Bikes
Based in Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County, this company offers all kinds of rentals and tours, including a Classic Winery option with a guide who covers some twenty-five miles and several winery stops with a picnic lunch. There are also multiday tours that include overnight stops at strategically situated bed and breakfasts or inns. The company's Web site,
This company, which has been in business since 1991, offers single- and multiday bicycle tours. You can focus specifically on Sonoma County or mix up your adventure with excursions across the border into Napa County. The Four-Day Multisport Wine Country tour, for instance, combines wineries in both counties with bicycling, hiking, and kayaking. Details are available online at
Based in Healdsburg, this company is run by self-described “bike heads.” If you're a serious rider, the Spoke Folk are probably your kind of people. You can rent bicycles by the hour, including tandems starting at $15 per hour or $50 for the day. You'll get a free map of the area with every rental or you can check out the company's recommended self-guided tours on its Web site,
Walking from one end of Sonoma County to the other is a haul and a half, but if you want to see Wine Country on foot, you can opt to stroll from winery to winery in one location, such as the towns of Sonoma or Kenwood. Depending on your hotel's location, you may be able to get to at least a handful of wineries on foot. Of course, you can always skip the wineries altogether and just walk to a good restaurant in town that has a fantastic local wine list.