Fine Dining, Whale Watching and Wine Make Sonoma a Winter Wonderland

By Kelly Holmes

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Whether you are interested in exploring the tastes or the sights, Sonoma offers something for everyone all year long – even in February.  

Sonoma quiets down a bit in winter after the busy harvest season. Fewer tourists mean more opportunities for behind-the-scenes winery tours and snagging those hard-to-score dinner reservations. With more free time in the winter months, you may discover your tasting room attendant is also the winemaker. Visit local favorites like MacLaren Wines, Mounts Family Winery or Winery Sixteen 600. Winter is the time of year to make reservations at the Michelin-rated restaurant you’ve always wanted to try and indulge in some seasonal comfort food. Savor the culinary expertise at restaurants like Single Thread Farms, Madrona Manor and Valette.

Although the temperature may be cool and a bit rainy, it’s still a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Hop in the car and head to one of the Bodega Bay overlooks to see the gray whales migrating from the Chukchi Sea between Siberia and Alaska to Baja by way of Sonoma’s coastline. Try the ocean overlook at Bodega Head for one of the best vantage points. If you enjoy hiking, get out and explore the more than 13,000 acres of parks and trails. Visit one of the many regional parks – Jack London State Park, Sonoma Valley Regional Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or check out the pygmy forest in Salt Point State Park.

For some good family fun, visit the Cloverdale Citrus Fair from Feb. 16-19. With horses, tractors, floats, marching bands and the pageant queen contest, families have enjoyed the fair every winter since 1924. Follow the parade on Feb. 17 from the intersection of Third Street and Cloverdale Boulevard, down Cloverdale Boulevard to the Fairgrounds. 

If spending time outdoors in the winter isn’t your thing, visit Russian River Brewery’s taproom in downtown Santa Rosa for the release of Pliny the Younger. This highly sought-after beer is only available for two weeks in February and beer enthusiast’s eager to taste the 10.25 percent freshly tapped brew wait in line for up to 12 hours. Only available on draft and never in a bottle, enthusiasts can find this beer at Russian River Brewery’s taproom and a few other limited locations.

While the beer is available for a limited time, Sonoma always has fun activities on tap.

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