Original photo by: mantripping and sacmag
What’s Sonoma? Aren’t they the same? Those were the same questions I had when I first heard of Sonoma. Who would have known that a larger wine country existed next to the world renowned Napa Valley?
Let the battle begin:
- No Two Buck Chucks (Cost)
Napa costs more per bottle on average and that may not be surprising at all. The land is more expensive and appeals to more tourists, which leads to driving down supply and upping demand. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but you’ll find equally deserving wine in Sonoma for cheaper.
- Corner Store or Bev Mo (Selection)
Selection and variety is key to me. I enjoy my Sauvignon Blancs on a nice summer day and love my century vine zines on long nights. Sonoma is older, bigger and has more diverse climates due to its geography. This means a greater selection filled with Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Zinfandel (the best I’ve had), Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and more. Napa is known for their Cabernets and the world knows that too, so it’s selection is much less than its neighbor.
- For the Foodies (Dining Options)
By a landslide, the food in Napa is superior to Sonoma. Restaurants like Bouchon, French Laundry, and Morimoto will surely impress any guest. That isn’t to say, Sonoma, doesn’t have great food (looking at you St. Francis), but Napa overall just puts a lot more commitment into impressing their guest.
- Place to rest from being wine-wasted (Hotel Accomodations)
This goes along with tourism once more; Napa just caters to a broader audience and has spent the money creating excellent lodging establishments and better placement to points of interests. Given that, the price is also significantly higher than your average night stay in Sonoma.
- Traffic, ain’t nobody got time for that
You don’t have a ton of choices when traveling in Napa. Say hello to the two lane Highway 29 and if you find yourself there at the wrong time, good luck getting home. I’ve never had an issue with traffic in Sonoma, outside of the typical accidents, but even then, you have tons of back road options to navigate around.
- You make me feel all warm inside, or maybe it’s the wine (Ambiance)
The ambiance in Napa is more formal, business-like, and sophisticated. Wineries like Artesa, simply do not exist in Sonoma. Sonoma was built on generations of family ownership and thus gives a more personal feel. The overall pace in Sonoma is a lot slower; the vibe is less formal and much more laid-back.
- What to do if I’m not into wine, in Wine Country (Activities)
Having experienced the day and nightlife of both valleys, I’d have to say Napa has a lot more to do. Like I previously mentioned, Napa was built to cater to tourists. I really enjoyed the Napa Wine Train and also had the chance to visit a few golf courses and outlets. Finding a nice spa is like searching for water in California, wait, I meant the ocean – we’re in a drought.
- Impressing a date
With Napa Wineries like Castello di Amorosa (aka the castle), you’ll surely impress any date. If you’re into sparking wine, head over to Mumm’s, Domaine Caneros’ or Domaine Chandon. You won’t be disappointed by the effort and money spent in décor, ambiance, and service. Sorry, Sonoma, you have great bubbly too, but it’s just not the same.
- Wait, I need a reservation to drink?
Yes, you do. Due to popular demand, a lot of wineries in Napa are reservation only. This goes, especially if your group is larger than 6. I’ve had the privilege of planning 5 group limo trips to wine country and only 1 has been in Napa. Sonoma is just a much easier place to coordinate with big groups or small. I love being able to pull into any winery spontaneously and know they’ll be able to accommodate, so thank you, Sonoma.
- Did someone say, FREEEEEE
Yes, if you own a Visa Signature Card, you and a guest are subject to free tasting at the following locations: http://www.sonomawine.com/visa-signature-perks/vs-winery-guide. Napa, where you at?