By Diana Kelly for SingleEdition.com
You’ve probably heard of California’s wine country as a favorite destination visited by some of your couple friends—heck, many of us probably even know someone who got engaged out there. At Single Edition, we wanted to debunk the myth that this romantic vacation destination isn’t going to be as fun to single readers like you. So, we went to the West Coast to wine, dine and have a great time—all in the name of research!
We’ve always known that dating and wine drinking are a complementary match, and now we’re seeing a growing interest in these pairings with websites like WineLoversMatch.com, WineSocials.com and even SinglesandWine.com in Austin, TX.
What we found in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley is that the wine industry has gotten younger and livelier over the years—and boy, do those locals know how to have a good time! Read on for tips on where to eat and drink, what to do, and where to stay in the Sonoma County and Napa Valley regions.
SONOMA FOR SINGLES
Top Places to Wine and Dine
Take a drive along the Sonoma Coast. Stop in the Gourmet Au Bay wine shop in Bodega Bay for wine flights and snacks on the deck overlooking the Bay. This little wine and gift shop is a nice place to pick up a few specialty wine bottles for the rest of your trip, and mingle on the deck while listening to music Sunday afternoons.
For a wine bar with unexpectedly great food, visit Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, a smaller bar where you’ll meet locals who keep coming back for the ambiance, variety of wines, and small plates menu. All of the wines are available in 2 oz servings and the menu has a great mix of interesting international dishes
In Downtown Sonoma, The Girl and the Fig is a bar and restaurant known for its seasonal Provencal-inspired cuisine and “Rhone-Alone Wine Lists.” The patio is a noteworthy place to people-watch while sipping wonderful wines and sampling small plates and cheeses.
The Depot Restaurant is a local’s favorite Italian restaurant in Downtown Sonoma known for its homemade salumi and charcuterie, handmade pasta, and fresh ricotta. Their cooking classes throughout the year are a good way to learn new techniques while meeting some Sonoma locals.
Things to See and Do in Sonoma
If you want to learn more about how your wine goes from vine to bottle, check out St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa for their “wine-cation” tour, an exclusive production and wine library tour. For only $25 a person, it’s like going on a fun factory tour for adults and ends with a tasting in St. Francis’ Library Cave. The staff at St. Francis are so personable, we felt like old friends drinking with our tour guides, Michael McNeil and Westley Wallinger, by the time we left. McNeil, a Sonoma single himself, gave us a list of his favorite bars in Downtown Sonoma, including:
Murphy’s Irish Pub: Great beers and tasty Irish food, live music, and trivia nights
The Swiss Hotel: A good place to sit outside and people watch
Steiners: A sports bar with live music from local bands and karaoke nights
Town Square: Cheap drinks, fun crowds that tend to skew younger on the weekends
The Harmony Lounge at the Ledson Hotel: A low-key lounge with a nice selection of wines and cocktails
If you want to do tastings in Downtown Sonoma, it’s best to start earlier in the day since most wine shops and tasting rooms close by 6 p.m. during the weekdays. There are plenty of tasting rooms, lots of shopping, and a gorgeous little park in the middle of the plaza for lounging and people-watching.
Where to Stay
Located conveniently in Downtown Sonoma on the Sonoma Plaza, the El Dorado Hotel is a modern hotel that provides balcony views of the plaza or courtyard. Meet new people on Friday nights when they offer a complimentary wine tasting in the lobby featuring wineries from the El Dorado Kitchen wine list. The El Dorado Kitchen (EDK), located on the first floor of the hotel, showcases a sophisticated, yet approachable menu of seasonal foods and a variety of cocktails. Locals and tourists come here for great drinks and apps in the cocktail area or poolside.
The Swiss Hotel is a great place to stay for singles with the popular Swiss Hotel bar right downstairs and it’s location on the plaza makes it easy to spend late nights at the local bars and not have far to travel on the way home.
The Hampton Inn&Suites in Rohnert Park is nice midrange hotel that’s conveniently located at the Gateway to Wine Country, right off of Rte US 101, just a short drive from Sonoma's wineries and the Pacific Coast. Grab a complimentary Hampton's On the Run breakfast bag on weekdays before embarking on a day of wine tasting.
If you’re looking for a resort experience, The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa, right off of the main highway Rte 12, is perfect for staying, playing, and pampering. Enjoy a delicious meal in their restaurant, the Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, with a few glasses from their varied