Best Hiking in Sonoma County: Vineyard Hikes with Views
When I want to go wine tasting, my natural tendency, as a local, is to hop in the car and go find a tasting room. It’s the easiest route to a splash in the glass. No appointment, no planning. But many wine lovers want to take their wine country getaways to another level, getting closer to the grapevines and the great outdoors (especially in the current days of COVID). A few wineries have answered the call and added a whole new way to experience a wine tour: offering hiking in their Sonoma vineyards and sweeping estate properties (by reservation only). Many of these vintners have some of the best views in the region. These hikes vary in length, style, and frequency but all of them get visitors out of the tasting room and into the vines. Here’s a rundown on some of our favorite vineyard hiking in Sonoma County. Advance reservations are required and all Sonoma wineries have modified their experiences to comply with county safety standards.
Best Hiking in Sonoma County: Vineyard Hikes with Views
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
The 1,200-acre Jordan Estate in Healdsburg offers plenty of room to roam, and the winery’s seasonal Vineyard Hike events cover about four miles of trails in a four-hour immersion like no other. Tours begin with a protein snack at the winery chateau, then head out into the ranchland by foot. The moderate tromp passes through woods, meadows, and sustainably farmed vineyards before a break at Jordan Vista Point, the highest hilltop on the scenic property. From the top, there’s a 360-degree view of the entire Alexander Valley. From there, the group descends 300 feet into the olive orchards, winds around a lake, and heads past a cattle pasture to the chef’s garden and apiary. The experience concludes back at the winery chateau, with a charcuterie picnic with wine pairing at your own private table on the terrace. Now offered Thursday through Sunday at 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. until September 6. Offered Friday through Sunday at 9 a.m. from September 11 through October 31. Limited to 12 guests. Book your hiking excursion on their website.
Alexander Valley Vineyards
What makes the lunch hike at Alexander Valley Vineyards different from the rest on this list? Weather permitting, this tromp is available daily at 10:30 a.m. (It is also the lowest-elevation of the Sonoma wineries hiking trails, so the views are of benchlands rather than mountains.) The 90-minute excursion is an easy stroll from the tasting room through the vineyards while tasting wine where it’s grown. Along the way, the group passes the winery building, the original Alexander Valley school building, and the Alexander homestead. Tour guides regale hikers with area history, which, in this part of the valley, dates back more than 150 years. They also provide perspective on the evolution of farming practices, and information about any wildlife you might see. The tour ends with a barrel tasting in the cave. Guests can enjoy their wine country boxed lunch (and wine) on the deck at the tasting room or at picnic tables in the vineyard. Price: $50 per person. 36-hour notice required.
Kunde Family Winery
Heading south, hiking in Sonoma Valley, there is another historic winemaking family that has offered vineyard exploration for several years. There are two different hiking options at Kunde Family Winery in Kenwood. Both are moderately strenuous. The first, dubbed “Hike & Taste in the Vineyards,” is a four-hour adventure that meanders from the tasting room through a range of ecosystems and native habitats. This tour offers basic science interpretation—and tastes of wine—along the way, including a look at their sustainable farming practices. The hike, which costs $40 per person, concludes back at the winery. Reservations are required and this hike is offered twice per year. The second option, their “Dog Hike,” is a similar itinerary, only it includes lunch and is designed for visitors and their dogs. This latter tour is led by winegrower Jeff Kunde, his wife Roberta and their dogs Cooper and Kalie. A portion of the $90 per-person fee will be donated to Dogwood Animal Rescue Project and the Sonoma County Humane Society. Reservations are required and it’s offered several times per year. For more information about both hikes and availability, visit their website.
Bartholomew Estate Winery
On the outskirts of the town of Sonoma, Bartholomew Estate Winery is an organic property owned and operated by the Frank H. Bartholomew Foundation and Winemaker Kevin Holt. They offer access to three miles of expansive hiking trails in the hills behind the winery, passing by the duck pond and windmill, weaving through mature oaks, madrones, redwoods and vineyards, following wildflowers up the log steps and cresting at a view of San Francisco Bay. Trails are moderate to difficult in places and are free to roam. The nonprofit foundation of Bartholomew Park maintains the 375-acre property and trails and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily (with no entry after 4:30 p.m.) and tasting at the winery is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday, by appointment. Free parking available. Profits from the foundation’s ownership in the winery go back to support the park and trails.
If you’d prefer to a hike without a guide, Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures, a program run by the Sonoma County Winegrowers, facilitates a number of self-guided walking tours, some of which also involve vineyard tromps. For more information, visit their website.
To slay additional thirst after your hike, be sure to read our advice on where to taste wine in Sonoma County.