Napa Versus Sonoma

Having been to wine country a number of times now, I always find myself coming back with modified opinions on the age-old debate of “which is better” – Napa or Sonoma. I initially fell in love with Napa, but then cheated on it with Sonoma – and am admittedly probably still more attracted to the new kid on the block. But they both really are magical and I would never turn down a trip to either. Below, I’ve listed an updated set of thoughts and reactions for each.


  • More expensive tastings ($15-30 apiece)
  • Less picturesque, aside from the Silverado Trail, where the topography starts to yield better views of the valley
  • Generally yuppier clientele
  • More hidden gems than I recall (e.g. Saintsbury)
  • Bigger and more famous vineyards
  • Much more corporate and quick to push product on tasters
  • Upscale, recently-reconstructed downtown area
  • Less residential areas (more of a Bed-and-Breakfast scene)
  • Best Pinots around, with other varietals the compliment the portfolio (but don’t hold a flame to the Pinots)


  • Less expensive tastings (mostly $20 and under)
  • More picturesque, with rolling hills, and a generally “greener” landscape
  • More laid back clientele
  • More hidden gems than I recall (e.g. Cast)
  • Smaller and more quaint vineyards
  • Less corporate, more independent, and you feel less pressured to purchase product
  • Older, more quaint downtown area
  • More residential areas (more ideal for an Airbnb)
  • Less impressed with their Pinots, and more impressed with varietals I didn’t previously associate with the area (e.g. Zins, Cabs, Syrahs, blends, etc)

All in all, I think Napa probably still has a higher ceiling, with more of the top-end names (both wineries and restaurants, like French Laundry). It definitely has more money invested in it, and it shows – as evidenced by comparing the town squares. But I still prefer Sonoma because of the quaint and less arrogant feel.

Much more to come as I review some of the stops along the way!

Til Next Time,


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