Sonoma county deserves bragging rights when it comes to wineries. You will find around 60,000 acres of vineyards along with at least 400 wineries. The wine options are endless, and you will find the perfect drink to complement your taste buds.
Along with the area’s storied vineyards: you can explore some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. Find the redwood trees that rise above gorgeous rolling hills and valleys.
If you consider yourself adventurous — you can find daunting cliffs at Bodega Head along the shoreline. You can also take a bike ride along the countryside or a dip in one of Sonoma’s many lakes.
But while there’s much to see and do, when exactly is the best time to visit Sonoma? Here’s our take.
The Best Time to Visit Sonoma in 2023
The best time to visit Sonoma is between May and October. However, these months are also some of the busiest times to visit. The middle of May through the whole month of June will be your ideal time to visit.
You can still enjoy beautiful 70-degree weather on your trip to Sonoma during May and June without worrying about the crowds. You can have all the best parts of Sonoma just by traveling at the right time!
You only need to worry about avoiding mothers day and Memorial Day in May. No other holidays are present to bring in more crowds. Plus, kids are still in school, and some will have already had spring break.
You may hit the perfect time for discounts on hotels and flights during this time. Since the time falls right before peak season, you will find cheaper hotels because there aren’t as many people.
Cheapest Time to Visit Sonoma
You will find the cheapest months to visit Sonoma between November and May. Since these are considered off-season months, there aren’t as many tourists. Hotels, flights, and businesses tend to mark prices down to bring in more travelers.
You can find cheap flight tickets in a few ways:
- Purchase for off-season travel
- Travel during the weekdays
- Book as early as you can
Unfortunately, the weather may not be kind during these months. Since these months are typically colder, you won’t get to enjoy some of the harvest festivals. Cold months in this region are overcast and rainy, so you may not see the beautiful scenery.
The cheapest months may not be the best months. You will most likely miss out on some of the best things Sonoma is known for. Thankfully you can still go sightseeing, touring, and enjoy some romantic settings — weather permitting of course.
Least Busy Time to Visit Sonoma
The least busy time to visit Sonoma is during the off-season — November through May. This time is also the cheapest time to visit because it’s the least busy.
The least busy time to visit Sonoma happens because the weather isn’t as nice as it is during peak times. It can still be quite nice, but temperatures sometimes drop into the 30s, making it a cold vacation.
Visit Sonoma during the weeks with no holidays. Consider when spring break is for college and high school students — avoid going during those times. Travel during the week while everyone is at work or school.
Even though there are some complications when you travel during the off seasons, it may be worth it. You may skip the crowds, but not the cold weather. Low prices are available, but you may need to deal with the rain.
Worst Time to Visit Sonoma
The worst time to visit Sonoma is September and October when tourists and hotel prices skyrocket. This time is peak season and brings all the customers to the vineyards.
If you want the best when it comes to wine tasting or festivals, September and October are the perfect times to go. Peak season offers advantages, such as wine tasting, great weather, and perfect romantic settings.
Unfortunately, peak season also means a crowded season. During this time: you will have to fight through the crowds to taste wine or get a seat at a romantic restaurant. If you want to take in the scenery, you fight for space to clear just for a picture.
You may even fight through traffic to get to the scenery. The most crowded time also means the most expensive time. Since Sonoma is a tourist area, flights, hotels, and prices skyrocket. You may find your average hotel costs around $250 per night.
Here are a few things you can do to cut down on costs:
- Stay in a hotel in the town over
- Stay during the week, don’t even attempt weekends
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to consider before visiting Sonoma:
- Alexander Valley is a must-see for wine tasting and beautiful scenery.
- Wine tasting isn’t the only thing to do in Sonoma. Try visiting the coastline for secluded beaches and sheer cliffs.
- If you travel during peak season, go to the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. There they have crafts, wine, tasting, and live music.
- Try to plan your trip around some events so you can experience wine country culture while you are there.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may still have some questions about visiting Sonoma County, so we’ve rounded up some of the most common questions we’re asked:
What is the weather like in Sonoma Valley?
Like most places, Sonoma Valley has a variety of weather conditions throughout the year. You never know if you are going to get winter or summer weather. During the spring and summer months, you will typically see 87 degrees during the day and down to 50 degrees at night.
As you can see, there are drastic weather changes, so it’s a good idea to pack some summer clothes and light jackets. During the fall and winter months, you will see highs of 50 degrees and lows in the upper 30s.
You will typically see a whole lot of rain and overcast skies during the winter. Be prepared for warm long summer months, and rainy short winter months in this region. When you pack, pack for drastic changes in the weather.
Consider packing the following no matter what season you decide to travel:
- Raincoat or umbrella
- Appropriate hiking shoes
- Thin jacket
- Long pants
- Warm socks
- A hat and Scarf
What is the oldest winery in Sonoma?
Sonoma’s oldest winery is also California’s oldest. Buena Vista Winery dates back to 1857 and was founded by “Count” Agoston Haraszthy. The building has always been a winery but was recently renovated. It is now known as one of Sonoma’s historical landmarks.
Now you can visit Buena Vista and do several things including:
- Wine tasting
- Shopping in the gift shop
- Touring the building and grounds
- Eating at the restaurants
What is Sonoma known for?
Sonoma is mainly known for its wineries and vineyards. The valley is California’s birthplace of wineries. Even though Napa technically has world-renowned wineries, Sonoma is perfect for those who want a quieter experience.
Sonoma is also known for its many bike paths. You can take your bike just about anywhere. There are plenty of places to bike around town or on a mountain bike trail.
Why is Sonoma called Sonoma?
History lesson! Sonoma originated back to an old Indian tribe called the Miwok. Sonoma means valley of the moon. They called the area this because it looked like the moon had sunk into the valley. The concept only adds more romance to an already romantic countryside.
What kind of wines is Sonoma known for?
Did you know Sonoma is known for growing over 60 varieties of grapes!? Some of these grapes are more popular than others. Some wines are more popular than others too, Chardonnay being the most popular option in the valley.
After Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc are some of the more popular types of wine found in Sonoma.
How can I get to and around Sonoma without a car?
Take Golden Gate Transit from San Francisco to San Rafael, then change to Sonoma County Transit to reach Sonoma Valley if you’re taking public transportation. This is your only option if you travel from San Francisco to Sonoma.
Unfortunately, public transportation does not stop at wineries. You may see some wineries on the way to your stop. For more information about local transport in this area, visit Transit511.org.
Biking is an option if you have no way to get around. There are streets where you can bike to get from one destination to the next. Lastly, you could rent a car or a limo for the day.
Are there restaurants in any of the wineries?
Most wineries in the Sonoma valley do not feature a sit-down restaurant. However, they do offer some food options on their menu. A few places like the previously mentioned Buena Vista offer a dining experience along with their wine.
Even if the winery does not offer food on its menu, most will welcome you to their tables to eat your food from other places. To be sure, you should ask before using their seating.
How do I get to wineries in Sonoma County?
You can either hire a driver, rent a car, or ride a bike to visit wineries across Sonoma County. Sonoma is more than 1,500 square miles and has more than 425 wineries, so it’s unrealistic to cover the whole countryside with a bike.
You could find a few wineries within the same area if you travel by bike. Transits will not take you directly to wineries- they will only take you by them. If you want to go to a winery, I recommend renting a car or hiring a driver.
So, When Should You Visit Sonoma?
The end of May is the prime time to visit because it offers cheap discounts, fewer tourists, and great weather. We hope you have the best vacation in the wine country of Sonoma!