Of the two wine regions, we liked Sonoma much better because this valley is more tranquil, there are a few attractions and it's not quite as touristy as the Napa area.
We started our tour in the nice little town of Sonoma. A short walk around the Sonoma Plaza, the city park with the city hall and the side streets will show you the nice houses, stores and restaurants.
Northeast of the square on E Spain St. is the Mission San Fransisco Solano. From Mexico to here in California, the Spanish spread the Christian faith, and this Spanish mission, built in 1823, is the most northerly one.
The restored building can be visited, here the history is documented with many exhibits and panels. Worth seeing are the chapel, the courtyard and the former residential buildings on the opposite side of the road.
Mission San Fransisco Solano
From Sonoma, head north on State Route 12. To the left and right of the road are the vineyards of the wineries and just before the village of Glen Ellen a small road leads to the left to the Jack London State Historic Park.
Jack London was a famous American writer who lived and farmed here in his later years. The dwelling house can be visited, as well as the agricultural outbuildings and outdoor facilities. On a walk of about half an hour, one can enjoy nature on a hiking trail and visit the tomb of London.
Jack London Historic Park
The Glen Ellen Inn is located directly on the main road in the small town of Glen Ellen.
Very good cuisine is offered here with equally friendly service. Surprisingly fair prices with this high end ambiance, at least at lunchtime. You sit indoors or on a covered as well as open patio.
Attached to the restaurant are also some overnight accommodations in cottages. The choice of restaurants in this area is pretty poor around lunchtime, with most places not opening until the evening.
So overall a very nice location and recommended.
At least one winery has to be visited, we chose the one of the Benziger family. This is just outside Glen Ellen and offers wine tastings as well as beautifully landscaped grounds with a wide variety of plants and birds.
Pulled by a tractor, you can take a nice guided tour through the vineyards and/or go wine tasting. Here, too, there is an apparently very nice restaurant, which, however, also opens only in the evening.
Shortly after Glen Ellen, Trinity Road turns off to the right. This leads over a very nice, hilly and winding road into the Napa Valley. After this beautiful drive you are at the intersection of State Road 29, a partly 6 lane, busy thoroughfare through the Napa area. Along this lie most of the wineries of Napa.
Very nice is the town of Yountville. Along Washington St. you find many nice houses, stores and restaurants. It is best to park the car at Market Place and stroll through the streets.
On our way we decided to take the more quiet parallel road, the Silverado Trail. Here you can enjoy the beautiful landscape a little more contemplative.
Very conspicuous is the Chimney Rock Winery, which appears as a white building behind elongated vineyards. If you drive there, you immediately have the feeling to be in South Africa, because the architecture of this winery reminds very much of it. Very nice Winery.