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While they may not have the centuries-old winemaking clout that other world wine regions carry, Napa and Sonoma are certainly some of the most respected wine regions anywhere in the world—and each has its own personality. Both have supremely excellent wine growing climates (and microclimates, for that matter—16 in Napa and 17 in Sonoma), and both are filled to the bung with astonishingly good wine. Between samples, you'll also probably notice something else that makes this part of the world so special: it's stunningly beautiful up here. From the mountains to row after row of vines strewn across the besotting, arid landscape, not only will you be treated to a vinicultural feast, but your eyes will have plenty of things to be happy about as well.
Debating on which place to sample? Well, that should depend on what you're looking for. On the one hand, Napa Valley is known for is opulent, bourgeois feel, and boasts everything from boutiques to Michelin-starred eateries. You can just as happily spend your days decompressing in a natural hot spring bath and embarking on a quest for your next timepiece as you can learning to appreciate the differences in microclimates. Napa’s definitely a place to see, but it’s also quite a place to be seen.
Sonoma, on the other hand, might be thought of as a bit more down-to-earth. While you won’t be short on ways to splurge (like balloon rides, spectacular spas, and of course, world-class wine tasting experiences), you’ll also find a few local dive bars and a few historic missions that date back to the Spanish Colonial era. And while it may be a bit less opulent than its neighbor to the east, Sonoma has just as much excellent wine in its combined cellar, and it actually produces more wine than Napa. If you’re looking for a place to practice swirling your wine, Sonoma’s about as good of a choice as you can have.
But when you’re here, regardless of where you decide to explore, don’t just come for the wine (although we definitely encourage you to indulge a bit)—there’s so much more to do here. From the aforementioned spas and balloon rides to hikes, kayaking, and an appropriate amount of culinary excellence to pair with your wine, you’ll find there’s plenty of things to do here that don’t require aging in oak. Above all, just enjoy yourself—responsibly.