Summer is here and it is the perfect time to embrace vacation!

Although taking a summer vacation should be natural, the U.S. workforce is increasingly leaving vacation days on the books, lots of days. Even though we earn our vacation time, we are finding it harder to unplug from the 24/7 work world.

Did you know Americans annually have…

  • 705 Million unused vacation days
  • 212 Million forfeited vacation days
  • and 52% of us have unused vacation days at end the year*

Taking a much-needed break from work can improve your productivity, creativity, and attitude. It can also reduce job-related errors, workplace accidents, stress, fatigue, and even illnesses. Without taking a vacation, how do we recharge and renew ourselves?

Unplug Here

Sonoma County’s Wine Road offers endless opportunities for wine tasting, outdoor recreation, great dining, comfy lodgings, and so many wonderful ways to just unplug and relax.

Enjoy this breathtaking view from Gustafson Family Vineyards' Dry Creek Valley tasting room.

Enjoy this breathtaking view from Gustafson Family Vineyards’ Dry Creek Valley tasting room.

Equal Choices from Near or Far

Whether you live 3,000 miles from Sonoma County or 100 miles, the opportunities and choices are the same. The difference would be how you get here. If you fly in, I’d recommend checking out the Charles M. Schulz—Sonoma County Airport, which is centrally located in Sonoma County, just north of Santa Rosa and a few miles south of Healdsburg. If you fly on Alaska Airlines, be sure to take advantage of their Wine Flies Free program and take some of Sonoma County’s bounty back with you.

Should you be lucky enough to live in or close enough to drive to Sonoma County, consider a stay-cation. When you live in an area, you don’t often play tourist, and this is one of the best places to be a tourist.

So Many Choices, So Little Time

When planning a vacation to Sonoma County’s Wine Country, you don’t have to love wine to find the adventure or the relaxation you’re seeking. But, if you do love wine, rest assured we’ve got that covered.

Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the vineyard.

Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the vineyard.

Options to Consider

Outdoor recreation

Biking and hiking along vineyards are just two activities you can enjoy in Sonoma County's recreational paradise.

Biking and hiking along vineyards are just two activities you can enjoy in Sonoma County’s recreational paradise.

Arts & Culture

Spas & Wellness includes yoga classes, massage therapy, enzyme bathes, and more.

Sonoma Canopy Tours offers world class, tree top zipline tours for adventure seekers

Sonoma Canopy Tours offers world class, tree top zipline tours for adventure seekers

More Options

Eco Tourism, which includes farmers markets, farm trails, and over 80 hiking options including my favorite spots to walk, picnic, and just be with giant redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Armstrong Woods, a slice of heaven on earth.

Armstrong Woods, where you can walk among majestic redwoods.

Sonoma County’s Wine Country is also dotted with quaint towns filled with eclectic and boutique shops and antique stores.

An excellent source of vacation planning material is the Wine Road podcast: The Wine, When & Where of Sonoma County, CA. You can hear about what is happening, places to eat, travel itineraries based around a town or region of the county, and of course, wine tips. You might also explore some of the past blog posts on Guerneville, Cloverdale, Geyserville, and more.

Play, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Last fall, one of my blogs was all about relaxing into the rhythm along the Wine Road. I explored some delightful bed & breakfast inns that serve outrageous fare, but Sonoma County has much more to offer visitors looking for lodging. A great resource is the Wine Road’s website, where you can explore lodging options by type of lodging, amenities, or region. If you aren’t familiar with the area, I highly recommend you check out Wine Road’s complimentary concierge service. If you’d like to find out more about the Wine Road’s concierge offerings, check out a blog from 2017 that maps out all the amazing online tools offered by the Wine Road.

Image of the Raford Inn in Sonoma County's Wine Country

The view from the Raford Inn porch will entertain for hours.

Vacation is All About the Food

If you’re a foodie, Sonoma County offers a complete range of experiences from farm-to-table fine dining to cuisines from around the world to some of the best burgers anywhere. The Wine Road’s website lists a couple dozen local restaurants, but with over 600 options to select from, starting with a smaller list might be helpful.

If you like to cook, exploring the many farmers markets, farm trails and cheese trail can keep you occupied for days. During the summer, there is a farmers market in Sonoma County every day of the week but Monday, and the bounty is amazing.

Fresh local Sonoma County salmon and vegetables

Tasting Options Expanded

If you are new to the Sonoma County wineries, my go-to recommendation is a Wine Road Tasting Pass. This one-day pass give you complimentary tasting of three wines at over 60 participating wineries. It is the ideal way to explore a variety of wineries and locations. Also, Laura Stafford, the Wine Road’s concierge, can help guide you through the long list of winery options, narrowing down the list to fit your palate preferences. However, if you like doing research on your own, the Wine Road’s Winery page lets you search for wineries by wine type, region, or amenities.

If wine isn’t the only libation you enjoy, you might want to check out Sonoma County’s growing list of breweries, cider houses, and distilleries, too.

If you are looking for an enhanced winery experience, there are food and wine pairing options, and several different types of tours. During harvest, many wineries offer special tours and tastings to give visitors the flavor of the season. To give you an idea of what is offered every fall, you can review the blog from last September that highlighted most of the special tours and tastings along the Wine Road. We plan to post a similar blog in early September to keep you up to date.

Enjoy a wine tasting and cheese pairing on the deck at Papapietro Perry.

Enjoy a wine tasting and cheese pairing on the deck at Papapietro Perry.

Microclimates and Breathtaking Scenery

Whether you like cool temperature with morning fog or hot, sunny days, Sonoma County’s microclimates can accommodate your preferences. On many summer days you’ll find the temperature in Healdsburg or Cloverdale to be 30 or more degrees warmer than the coastal region. This gives you even more options to consider.

No matter where you select to visit or stay, you are guaranteed to find breathtaking vistas. I never tire of the view I enjoy daily as I drive along the Wine Road. And, I know you’ll find them equally enjoyable.

Classic old barn nestled in the vineyard.

Vistas & Vines: #WineRoadLife Photo Contest

If you find yourself visiting the Wine Road this summer, you can win cash just for taking photos of our engaging vistas, vines or wines if you post them on Instagram with #WineRoadLife. Photos can include photos at Wine Road wineries and lodgings, vistas from along the Wine Road, or you enjoying any of the activities listed above and more.

This Embrace Vacation inspired photo contest begins July 16th and runs through Labor Day (September 3rd). The Wine Road team will select their two favorite #WineRoadLife photos and each winner will receive $100! A nice addition to the vacation fund.

High elevation vineyard vista

#WineRoadLife

Embrace Vacation!

Do you need more convincing, or are you ready to use those vacation days so you aren’t adding to the statistics of unused days?

Happy Sipping!

*Statistics from 2017

Zinfandel grape clusters on the vine shortly before harvest

Posted by Rebecca Germolus

Rebecca Germolus, co-owner of Maximum Value Marketing, loves Sonoma County and playing along the Wine Road. Rebecca daily immerses herself in wine country by providing cost-effective marketing and writing solutions to wineries and restaurants.

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