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Mr. Selfish and I timed it, and it took us 45 minutes to get from SF to the first winery in Sonoma. That’s right – 45 minutes. Indeed, we will be taking many more trips to wine country during our stay in SF. This post will go over our first day trip to Sonoma, which was on a Tuesday to take advantage of the Sonoma night farmer’s market.

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After doing a great deal of tasting in Australia and New Zealand, I was surprised to discover that most of the wineries in Sonoma and Napa charge a tasting fee, which can vary from $5 to even $20 per person. Being the budget conscious person I am, I researched the wineries that were either free or had lower tasting fees.

One of the best tips I discovered was that if you have a Visa signature card, of which me and Mr. Selfish have plenty, you can receive a free tasting or a serious discount at certain wineries. I created a map of the higher rated wineries with free or lower tasting fees, including the Visa signature ones:

[Disclaimer: This is our personal Google map for Sonoma. It is possible that not all of the pins are accurate since we did not visit all of them.]

First Winery: Cline Cellars

Cline Cellars is one of the first wineries you encounter in Sonoma. Other than its proximity to SF, the best parts of Cline are that the wine is good and the tasting is free.

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Although the tasting room was small, the wine pourers were friendly and informative. We ended up buying three bottles from Cline – two Zinfandels and a Cashmere.

Second Winery: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

The next winery at which we stopped was Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, which is directly across the street from Cline. Moreover, since it has the same owners as Cline, the tasting is also free.

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We found the wine to be quite tasty and also purchased three bottles from Jacuzzi – the Barbera, a Prosecco, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jacuzzi is a much larger winery and even had an olive oil tasting area with lots of different types of flavored olive oil.

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Lunch Break: The Girl and the Fig

Then, we headed to downtown Sonoma to take a break and have lunch at the Girl and the Fig. Mr. Selfish and I ate in the back outdoor area, and it was a lovely lunch experience.

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We ordered the croque madam and the steak frites. Both were well-seasoned and delicious.

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Third Winery: Roche Winery

Since we were right next to Sonoma plaza, we decided to go to Roche Winery for its tasting, which cost $5 per person.

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Although Roche was highly reviewed all over the Internet, I found it to be the worst winery we visited in Sonoma. The wines didn’t have that much flavor and the service that we received was just bad. We were entirely ignored in favor of older patrons. I wouldn’t recommend Roche – especially due to the $5 tasting fee.

Snack Break: Basque Café

We stopped at Basque Café, which is also near Sonoma plaza, and enjoyed some coffee and pastries.

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Mr. Selfish and I tried their legendary Beehive Slice, which is a sweet Danish cake with custard and honey almond praline. It was simply delightful.

Fourth Winery: Chateau St. Jean Winery

Next, Mr. Selfish and I visited some of the wineries closer to Santa Rosa. We enjoyed the Chateau St. Jean Winery for its large tasting room and very personable wine pourers.

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We didn’t purchase any wines but man, we were quite tempted.

Fifth and Final Winery: Landmark Vineyards

The last winery we visited was Landmark Vineyards. We spent a good amount of time talking to our wine pourer, who was full of knowledge and willing to share it.

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We purchased a bottle of their delicious Pinot Noir, and the next thing I knew, it was closing time.

Dinner Time: Sonoma Night Farmer’s Market

Mr. Selfish and I love farmer’s market and couldn’t resist going to Sonoma’s night market, which is right in the plaza.

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We nibbled here and there until we were full. Mr. Selfish enjoyed a gourmet corndog from Uncle Bill’s. I had some delicious bbq oysters from Nellies. Lastly, we had a pulled pork and brisket sandwich from Cochon Volant BBQ, which was just average.

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Although this was not our first time in Sonoma, Mr. Selfish and I had only previously been with tour groups. This was our first time navigating Sonoma on our own. It was a fun experience, and I highly recommend Sonoma as an easy and quick day trip from SF.