FAQs When Visiting

1. How far is Wine Road from San Francisco airport (SFO)?
The Wine Road region begins about 70 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, at the north end of San Francisco. To get to the Wine Road, you’ll need to drive through San Francisco when going to or from the airport. Allow 2 - 2.5 hours to or from SFO—traffic flow is unpredictable.
 
2. How far is Wine Road from Oakland airport (OAK)?
Allow about 2 - 2.5 hours to or from OAK. Take Interstate 880 to 580 across San Rafael Bridge to Hwy 101. Then head north and you completely avoid San Francisco.
 
3. Can I fly into Santa Rosa Airport?
Horizon Air has daily flights directly into Santa Rosa from Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and San Diego. As part of their wine-friendly program, Horizon allows one case of wine to be checked as luggage at no cost through their A La Carte program. Now that’s a deal!
 
4. How far is the Pacific Ocean from the Wine Road?
From Healdsburg, heart of the Wine Road, it takes just under one hour to get to the Pacific Ocean. From Occidental, which is the western edge of the county, it is about 15 minutes.

5. How many wineries can I visit per day?
Visiting three to five wineries per day is a leisurely, relaxed pace that allows you time to talk with folks at each winery and enjoy your surroundings. It's possible to visit six to eight wineries in a day if you keep a fast pace through the tastings, or if the wineries are really close together.
If you are going to wineries that require an appointment, don’t book your appointments too close together. An appointment tasting can take longer, so allow a minimum of an hour or more between your appointments, and don’t forget to factor in travel time.

6. What kind of transportation options can you offer?
Go to  Visit > Transportation to view options. You’ll find everything from green options to traditional limos and tour buses, as well as companies that will drive your vehicle or rental car for you.

7. Why is the Russian River so important to this area?
The Russian River runs through our three appellations —Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. It flows from above Cloverdale in the north and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner-by-the-Sea. It unifies, cools and provides recreation and water for our area. The fog, a maritime influence, rolls up the Russian River, providing natural air conditioning during the growing season—a key factor in growing superb grapes.

8. What is the price range for lodging along the Wine Road?
We have lodgings that start around $100 and go up from there. You can also book an ultra-luxury room for $700+ per night. There is something for everyone. We even have a KOA for campers! Be sure to check out our Lodgings page for details.

9. Do the wineries charge for tasting?
Many of the wineries have a tasting fee that is refunded with a purchase. On the Wineries page, you can use the Search by Amenity feature, selecting Tasting Fee , Tasting Fee Complimentary or Tasting Fee Refundable With Purchase from the drop down list to find out each winery's policy.

10. What wineries offer tours?
For a full list of wineries that offer tours, go to Visit > Winery Tours , or go to Wineries and use the Search By Amenity feature, selecting Tours , Tours By Appointment or Group Tours from the drop down list.

11. What wineries offer food & wine pairings?
For a full list of wineries that offer food & wine pairings go to Visit > Food & Wine Pairings.

12. Do any wineries or lodgings have a restaurant onsite?
Visit our listing on Foursquare for a complete list.

13. Can I stay right in the vineyards?
Here are a few of the Wine Road lodgings that are nestled among the vineyards—Geyserville Inn, Healdsburg Country Gardens, Vine Hill, Vintners Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Case Ranch Inn, Auberge on the Vineyard and The Raford Inn. Or, check out our complete list of Lodging members for more details and options.

14. What is the most convenient base camp location?
Healdsburg is at the heart of the Wine Road, but Santa Rosa, Windsor, Guerneville, Sebastopol and Cloverdale can all provide a good starting point. We are called Heaven Condensed for a good reason—187 wineries and 56 lodgings clustered within a 30-mile radius.

15. Do I need dinner reservations?
Dinner reservations are always a good idea, especially in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. Go to Visit > Restaurants for a complete list of local restaurants with phone numbers and links to their websites. 

16. What sort of clothes should I bring for touring the wineries?
We recommend wearing sensible shoes and layers. Winery cellars can be cool, and smaller wineries often have their tasting rooms in the cellar. Our mornings and evenings can be foggy and cool. In the summer months, we can have a 40° difference during the course of a day. Layers are the best solution.

17. What is the dinner dress code along the Wine Road?
Most restaurants are Wine Country casual. If you are concerned that you might be underdressed, we recommend you check out the restaurant’s website and take your clues from there.

18. Is there nightlife along the Wine Road?
Santa Rosa has traditional nightlife with dancing, bars and movies. Healdsburg and Sebastopol do too, though on a smaller scale.

19. I am planning a romantic getaway. Where should we stay and what should we do?
Romance abounds along Wine Road! We can help you plan a romantic getaway. You can fill out out the Wine Road Concierge Service request form, and we'll get back to you asap.

20. We like to be active—is bike riding or walking a practical way to visit  wineries?
A car is the most practical way to visit the Wine Road wineries. There are some bike rental companies who will help you map out a route, and the wineries can arrange to ship your wines for you or possibly get them to your lodging. In Healdsburg, there are 20 tasting rooms within walking distance to the downtown areas, but out in the valleys, the wineries are spread out so if you plan to bike from winery to winery, plan ahead.

21. How close is Napa to Wine Road?
Napa can refer to the town of Napa, which is about 1.5 hours from Healdsburg. Calistoga, which is at the top of the Napa Valley, is about 45 minutes from Healdsburg. The Napa Valley is just that, a valley that has mountain on both sides and runs the length of the county of Napa. So when using the term Napa, you can mean a town, a valley or a county.

22. How close is Sonoma to Wine Road?
Just like Napa, Sonoma can also mean a town, a valley or a county. The town of Sonoma is about 1 hour from Healdsburg. Wine Road is in the county of Sonoma. The Sonoma Valley is between Santa Rosa and Sonoma, and is also called Valley of the Moon.

23. What is the absolute best time to visit?
We are open year round, so anytime you visit you’ll enjoy unique opportunities. You might visit during one of our annual events , or you might prefer the winter months when the tasting rooms are quieter and you can spend more time tasting and talking with the winery staff. No matter the time of year, the Wine Road is always Heaven Condensed.

24. When can I see all the action around harvesting grapes?
Typically, harvest and crush, as it is often called, begins as early as late August and continues on until early November. The busiest time tends to be from mid-September until mid-October.

25. Why visit the Wine Road wineries rather than the famous Napa Valley wineries?
Wine Road is the road less traveled. Since our tasting rooms aren't as crowded, you have a better chance of a warm, intimate, friendly experience along our roads, and more personal interaction with winery owners and principals. And, we, too, produce world-renowned wines.

26.  Are there famous wineries on the Wine Road?
We think all of our wineries should be famous, but these are names you might recognize due to their size and national distribution of their wines.
Clos du Bois
Geyser Peak
Ferrari-Carano
Francis Ford Coppola
Kendall-Jackson
Korbel
La Crema
Merry Edwards
Rodney Strong
Seghesio
Silver Oak

27. Can I ship wine home?
Each state and country has different laws regarding shipping wine. Most states now allow direct shipping, but unfortunately not all. Check with the winery or the shipping company you decide to use. You might also check the Wine Institute’s site to view current shipping regulations by state.

28. How do I ship wine home?
There are a number of shipping companies in our area. When you buy wine through a winery, they can also ship it for you if your state allows interstate wine shipments. Just ask about shipping options when purchasing wine.

29.  What is the value of belonging to a wine club ?
Most wineries offer a variety of VIP benefits for their wine club members. You’ll get wine shipped directly to you a few times a year, plus discounts on wines. The winery might host wine club-only events, or you might be able to attend events at a discounted rate. Some wineries have guesthouses that club members can rent at reduced rates. Each winery offers a slightly different set of benefits to their wine club members.

Some wine lovers belong to multiple clubs, which allows them to keep their cellars stocked with their favorite wines.

30. I do not know very much about wine. Can I figure it out on my own or do I need a guide?
With the Wine Road map and website you will be an expert before you know it! Check out Wine 101 , and you can also contact  the Wine Road concierge, with questions.   

31.  I only like white wines and my spouse only likes reds. Where can we taste wines where we’ll both be happy?
Most of our wineries produce both red and white wines, but you can double check on our website or the Wine Road map before visiting. Under Wineries , you’ll find a list of all our members. You can search by varietal name using the Search By Wine Type feature or each winery page lists the wines they produce. Just click on the winery name to go to the winery page.

32. What hours can I go wine tasting?
Generally, tasting rooms are open from about 10 am – 5pm. Some tasting rooms in towns stay open until 7pm. Be sure to check the website or map when planning your tasting day.

33. Are there other things to do besides wine tasting?
Yes! On our Visit section, we’ve listed just some of the activities the area has to offer.

34. Can I bring my baby and children along?
Minors are allowed in tasting rooms on non-event days. During Wine Road events, no one under 21 is allowed, no exceptions.

35. Can I bring my dog to wineries?
Dogs are allowed at some wineries, but check before you bring your pet. For a full list of pet-friendly wineries, go to Wineries and use the Search By Amenity feature, selecting Pets Allowed from the drop down list, or visit our listing on Foursquare . California State Health Codes often prohibit animals in tasting rooms.  

36. I am bringing a group of eight for wine tasting. Do I need reservations?
It's always good to call ahead with a group. Several wineries require advanced reservations for any group of tasters.

37. Why do some wineries charge a group tasting fee?
Many wineries charge about $10 per person for groups of eight or more, and may require a reservation and payment in advance. They often need to bring in extra staff for larger groups, get extra glassware and stage a separate area to make room for a group.

38. Are there wineries with beautiful gardens?
We are lucky that many of our wineries have beautiful gardens and grounds. You can find Wine Road gardens either by going to Wineries and use the Search By Amenity feature, selecting Gardens from the drop down list, or through our listing on Foursquare .

39. What are the best wineries?
Best is an individual decision, just like some folks like Chardonnay and others prefer to drink Sauvignon Blanc. If you having difficulty deciding what wineries to visit, we suggest you contact our Wine Road concierge by filling out our Wine Road Concierge Service request form.

40. What lodging is the best?
The answer would be similar to that of question #39. Each person looks for something different when selecting a place to stay. If you are unsure or want more information, we encourage you to contact our Wine Road concierge by filling out our Wine Road Concierge Service request form.

41. I want a vacation rental, but can’t find that information on the website. Can you help me?
Our Wine Road lodging members are mostly inns, hotels, bed and breakfast inns and motels.
However, check out Russian River Getaways or Healdsburg Country Gardens on the Lodgings page.

42. Does it snow along the Wine Road?
Very rarely, though sometimes snow dusts the outlying mountaintops during our coldest winter months.

43. Does it rain throughout year?
We get most of our rain from late November through April. We might have a few showers in May and June, but generally, we don’t have rain from May through mid-October or later.

44. I’m looking for a venue for my wedding. Can you help me find some options?
Many of our Wine Road members have wedding facilities. For the most comprehensive listing, go to Visit > Weddings/Meetings .

45.  How can I tell how far it is between places?
We recommend using the Wine Road map when planning your Wine Road travels. It is true to scale and can help you quickly see how far it is between your preferred destinations. Travel time between Cloverdale (north end) and Occidental (southwest end) might be an hour or longer. When planning your day, look at the map so you have a smooth-flowing adventure as you meander through the Wine Road.

46.  Where can I have a picnic?
Our website can help you find wineries with picnic facilities. You can find picnic grounds by going to Wineries and use the Search By Amenity feature, selecting Picnic Facilities from the drop down list, or go to our listing on Foursquare .

47.  I am overwhelmed! There are so many options to choose from. Can you help me with an itinerary?
Check out our Wine Road concierge form ~ we're happy to help you plan as much or as little as you want. Just fill out our Wine Road Concierge Service request form, and we'll help you plan your Wine Road adventure.

48. What are the best wineries to visit?
Wine is a personal choice. The Wine Road has so many options to select from and all of them offer wonderful wines. Explore a few each visit, and in no time you’ll have your own favorites.

49. Who are the smallest and best wineries?
As for the best, they are all great!
Many of our winery members produce fewer than 5000 cases a year, with some producing less than 500 cases annually. We also have members that produce more than 100,000 cases or over a million cases a year.

Here is a list of a few of our smaller wineries. It is not a comprehensive list, but it gives you a place to start:
Acorn Winery
Battaglini Estate Winery
Claypool Cellars
DaVero Farms & Winery
Desmond Wines
Frick Winery
Gopfrich Vineyard & Winery
Gustafson Family Vineyard
Hart’s Desire Wines
Joseph Swan Vineyards
Lauterbach Cellars
Malm Cellars
Martorana Family Winery
Nalle Winery
Paul Mathew
Robert Rue Vineyard & Winery
Sheldon Wines
Talty Vineyards & Winery
Tara Bella Winery & Vineyards
West Wines

50.  I like to buy wines that have high scores or gold medals. How do I find them ?
High scores and gold medals are a guide, but we believe it is better for each person to taste the wine and be their own judge. Each palate is different and perceives what tastes “good” differently. All our wineries are winners, but if you still want to find out about our wineries' accolades, you can search our Wine Awards page, or go to the websites of the wineries you are visiting and look for their awards page.