The Millennial’s Guide To Navigating Sonoma’s Wine Country

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Alanna Hanson
Alanna Hanson

Photo Credit: Nat and Cody Gantz

There are hundreds of wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties—so many that planning a trip to wine country can be an intimidating and daunting task, especially to the inexperienced drinker. Where to stay? What to eat? What to drink? To help answer some of these questions, it’s best to turn to a local professional, specifically someone like Alanna Hanson. Hanson is the marketing director at Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka, a family-run company that produces small-batch, grape-based vodka with organic ingredients. At just 27, Hanson has helped grow the family distillery exponentially over the past four years. Earlier this summer, the Hansons opened their first tasting room in Sonoma. Although she grew up in Marin and went to college in Southern California, Hanson knowns Sonoma like the back of her hand. We asked her to share her favorite spots in the area. Think of her suggestions as the ultimate millennial’s guide to wine country.

The pool at the Fairmont in Sonoma
The pool at the Fairmont in Sonoma

Photo Credit: Fairmont Sonoma Mission InnFairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
Hanson says: “If you’re looking to pamper yourself while in wine country, look no further than the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. While this luxury destination comes with a hefty price tag, locals can take advantage of the Good Neighbor Program, an under-the-radar spa day pass and service discount for neighbors within 100 miles.”

The hacienda at Scribe
The hacienda at Scribe

Photo Credit: Scribe Winery

Scribe Winery
Hanson says: “No trip to Sonoma is complete without a visit to Scribe Winery. The ultimate destination to celebrate rosé all day, Scribe was founded by the Mariani brothers, new school California winemakers in their 30s who set out to break the traditional mold. This is not the winery your parents may have dragged you to as a kid; the cool casual setting boasts towering palms, picnic blankets, outdoor tables, and a revitalized 19th-century hacienda.”

Breakfast at Sunflower
Breakfast at Sunflower

Photo Credit: Sunflower Caffé

Sunflower Caffé
Hanson says: “The understated Sunflower Caffé is a great lunch option for those looking for a casual, affordable alternative to Sonoma’s fine dining scene. If you need a break from wine tasting, the Bloody Mary (made with organic beet, tomato and cucumber juice, aji amarillo chile, California coastal fennel pollen and our very own Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka) feels like a boozy juice cleanse. Order a steak salad and enjoy your meal on the back patio.”

The garden at Cornerstone
The garden at Cornerstone

Photo Credit: Cornerstone Sonoma

Cornerstone
Hanson says: “Art lovers and avid Instagrammers alike will be smitten with Cornerstone. This indoor-outdoor marketplace includes shopping, lush gardens, boutique tasting rooms, bites, and live music. There’s nothing I enjoy more than exploring the gardens and discovering one-of-a-kind vintage finds at Artefact Design & Salvage.”

Sushi and sparkling wine at Sigh
Sushi and sparkling wine at Sigh

Photo Credit: Sigh

Sigh’s Sushinoma Pop-Up
Hanson says: “Bubbles + sushi = a match made in heaven. Visit chic sparkling bar Sigh for champagne pairings to drink alongside fresh fish from the Sushinoma pop-up. Master sushi chef Jacob Talbert grew up on his grandfather’s fishing boat and infuses each of his dishes with a Hawaiian flair that harkens back to his home state.”

Hanson vodka
Hanson vodka

Photo Credit: Nat and Cody Gantz

Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka
Hanson says: “I may be a little biased, but Hanson boasts some of the best-handcrafted vodkas and craft cocktails in all of Sonoma. Chose from infusions such as cucumber, mandarin, ginger, and habanero or ask for the secret menu to explore the Mango Tango (made with fresh mango, Hanson Habanero Vodka, and a tajin rim).”

Hanson picking strawberries
Hanson’s friend picking strawberries

Photo Credit: @alahanson

Watmaugh Strawberries
Hanson says: “Watmaugh’s roadside farm stand is an excellent pick-me-up for the drive home. Stop for fresh strawberries topped with local honey. These berries are the sweetest way to end your Sonoma visit.”

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