San Francisco

8 Sonoma Wineries That Are Worth the Drive From SF

You deserve a wine-cation.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery

California is filled with unique peaks and valleys that not only make for a scenic road trip, but some of the best winemaking regions in the country. And while Napa Valley is an excellent choice if you want to visit as many wineries as possible, that close proximity also means it gets very crowded during peak season. That’s why we’re so happy that just to the west of it is Sonoma Valley, a 17-mile span of stunning views, farm-to-table restaurants, charming B&Bs, historic landmarks, and, of course, over 100 wineries spread across five distinct AVAs. Here are eight of our favorites, where you’ll find excellent wine, unique experiences, and in a few instances, gourmet food to complement it all.

Photo courtesy of Benziger Family Winery
Photo courtesy of Benziger Family Winery
Photo courtesy of Benziger Family Winery

Benzinger Family Winery

Glen Ellen
Benzinger tends to its 86-acre property using certified biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming methods, so it only makes sense that any visit to the gorgeous estate should include a tour on the open-air tram where you’ll learn about cover crops, spot bat and owl boxes around the vineyards, and see sheep and Scottish Highlander cattle grazing (and helping take care of and till the land). And don’t worry, there’s also wine. The tour is followed by a seated al fresco tasting of several Estate wines.
How to book: Reservations can be made on the website.

Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Winery
Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Winery
Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Winery

Buena Vista Winery

Sonoma
If you enjoy a side of history with your wine, you’ll love Buena Vista, the oldest commercial winery in California (founded in 1857). Go on the Historic Wine Museum Tour and Tasting to experience a light and sound show where you’ll learn about 19th century wine tools, as well all about the founder and self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista” who, not-so-fun fact, died in a crocodile-infested river in the jungles of Nicaragua in 1869. The Barrel Tour and Tasting is also a fun option if you prefer to see the historic property, as well as the Champagne Cellar and the caves (where you’ll taste directly from the barrel).
How to book: Reservations can be made on Tock.

Photo by Molly DeCroudeaux
Photo by Molly DeCroudeaux
Photo by Molly DeCroudeaux

Donum Estate

Sonoma
Contemporary art and single-vineyard pinot noir are the name of the game at this 200-acre estate, where you’ll discover 150-year-old olive trees, a sustainable farm, fields of lavender, and modern sculptures from well-known artists dotted throughout. There are several tours and tastings, including one walking and one in an ATV. The estate used pandemic closures as an excuse to transform the Donum Home, hiring award-winning Danish architect and designer David Thulstrup, who drew on spectacular California landscapes and Scandinavian values of simplicity and functionality to create a warm and inviting space that allows the wines and art to speak for themselves. 
How to book: Reservations can be made on CellarPass.

Photo courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery

Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery

Jenner
This vineyard is the closest to the Pacific Ocean (just one mile away) in California, an attribute that makes both the wine and a visit an experience unlike any other you’ll find in Wine Country. The mountain-vineyard blocks range in elevation from 1,200 to 1,700 feet above sea level on all types of terroir, including some areas that are so steep, the vineyards can only be reached by foot. Dress warmly for the tasting if you want to enjoy it on the heated deck overlooking the ocean-or the coastal fog-and dense forests. There is an indoor tasting room where you can do a standard tasting while standing at the bar, but the way to experience it is on the aforementioned deck where you’ll enjoy four Estate Grown wines and locally sourced charcuterie and cheese.
How to book: Reserve on Tock.

Photo courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Photo courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Photo courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Geyserville
Francis Ford Coppola Winery is much more than a winery. It’s like a winery theme park (literally, as it was inspired by Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen) on a sprawling estate with a huge swimming pool, bocce ball courts, two restaurants, a movie gallery with memorabilia from Coppola’s films (including Don Corleone’s desk), as well as tasting bars, and a gift shop. Plan to make a day of it if you can snag a reservation for the pool. There’s also a wine and bocce experience (with an optional cigar pairing), and both the Italian restaurant and poolside cafe have good food and full bars.
How to book: For tasting reservations, email [email protected] or call 707-857-1471. For cabine reservations (which gives you access to the pool), create an account and reserve here. Reservations for Rustic, the full-service restaurant, can be made here.

Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu
Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu
Photo courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu

Gundlach Bundschu

Sonoma
“Gun Bun” is California’s oldest family-owned winery (they’ve been farming the estate since 1858), but there’s none of the pretentiousness one might expect with that kind of pedigree. In fact, Gun Bun is one of the most down-to-earth wineries in Sonoma and also has some of the best experiences, including a tour of the 220-acre property via a Pinzguaer (Swiss military vehicle). On the weekends, Arbor Bar is the place to hang out, order a bottle or a glass, and snack on sandwiches while taking in vineyard views and listening to “feel-good tunes” from the DJ. You can even bring your pup.
How to book: Reservations can be made on CellarPass.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Photo courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Healdsburg
Set among the rolling hills of the Alexander Valley, Jordan is known for three things: chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and fantastic hospitality. Experience all three at a French bistro-style lunch (made with many ingredients grown on the estate) on the terrace next to the hilltop chateau. The Estate Tour & Tasting, which includes al-fresco tastings of library vintages paired with gourmet bites, is also fantastic, especially if you want to learn more about the wine and the land it comes from.
How to book: Reservations can be made on the website.

Ledson Winery & Vineyards
Ledson Winery & Vineyards
Ledson Winery & Vineyards

Ledson Winery & Vineyards

Kenwood
The king of the castle in Sonoma, somewhat literally, Ledson is known for its 16,000 square foot French-Normandy structure with cathedral-style windows, coffered ceilings, and ornate details surrounded by a 17-acre estate vineyard. There are several tasting bars inside, all with views of the castle grounds and vineyards, as well as private tastings in suites named after family members. Sandwiches and other treats are available to purchase in the marketplace in case you prefer to enjoy a picnic and a bottle on the grounds.
How to book: Request a reservation on the website.

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who loves nothing more than a weekend in Healdsburg. See where her adventures take her on Instagram @daisysf.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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