Best Time to Visit - 9 min read

Best Time to Visit Sonoma (Delicious Wines & Legendary Vineyards!)

Kaylee Giacomini

Kaylee Giacomini, Updated November 13, 2022

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Sonoma Valley is an enchanting destination with rolling vineyards and Pacific views. The weather remains pleasant year-round, and with such a popular destination there are constantly events and festivals occurring. 

Sonoma is well known for its wine, food, and views. But did you know that they have one of the only safari parks on the west coast? There is plenty to do in the Valley beyond winery tours and bike rides. 

Between June and October is the best time to visit Sonoma. This is due to the consistent 85-degree Fahrenheit temperatures and an average of only 0-2 rainy days. It is also the ideal time for catching festivals and events like the Sonoma County Wine Auction. The winter boasts fewer crowds and up to 20% lower cost of accommodation. 

There is no bad time to visit Sonoma. However, it is important to cater to your specific must-haves. If you want to go kayaking, for example, February may not be the best time to visit. However, this is an incredibly pleasant month for biking through the vineyards. 

What is the Worst Time to Visit Sonoma?

The worst time to visit Sonoma Valley is during the winter months from November to February. Temperatures are at their lowest and rainfall is at its highest at this time. 

Compared to other places, the weather in the winter here isn’t terrible. It’s just not as gorgeous as the spring and summer. Expect winter temperatures to fall around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Monthly rainfall is also only at an average of six inches. 

What is the Cheapest Time to Visit Sonoma?

The cheapest time to visit Sonoma is a lengthy stretch between November and May. This is a great time to visit the Valley as prices and crowds both decrease without forfeiting many activities. 

The weather stays pleasant in Sonoma year round. You may not be able to canoe or kayak in the winter, but that aside everything stays open. 

Visit vineyards and wine caves, hike the overlook trail, and dine at outstanding restaurants. Unlike other tourist areas, Sonoma isn’t incredibly seasonal. 

What Time of Year Does Sonoma Have the Best Weather?

Sonoma is blessed with pleasant weather year-round. That being said, the most stunning time to visit is between June and October. This is when temperatures peak around 80 degrees and rainfall is minimal to none.

June through September all average zero days of rainfall. You may get a stray shower, but expect outstanding weather and plenty of sunshine at this time. May and October both only average two days of rainfall so they are also excellent times to vist. 

January: Best Time to Visit the Champagne Caves and Vineyard

The Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards is one of Sonoma’s top producers of sparkling wine. In chilly, rainy January there is no better time to escape the weather and drink something sparkling. 

Gloria Ferrer is one of the best (and the first) producers of sparkling wine in Sonoma. Spend a day lounging around the vineyard and learning all about the production of this luxury beverage. 

According to their site, the Gloria Ferrer wines are defined by “the bay breeze, soft hillside air, bright sunshine, and cooling fog.”

  • Chowder Day Bodega Bay
  • Winter Wineland

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Napa

February: Best Time to See Sonoma by Bike

One of the most popular things to do in Sonoma Valley is to tour the estates by bike. You can go out on your own adventure, but there are guided tours as well. Some companies offer the unique opportunity to visit vineyards and do wine tastings by bike.

February is a great month to do this with daytime temperatures set at a brisk 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pedal through rolling vineyards, stunning highlands, and coastal landscapes. Even if you don’t drink wine, Sonoma is a lovely outdoor escape. 

  • Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival
  • Sonoma County Restaurant Week

March: Best Time for Film Festivals

Sonoma is a popular place for film festivals. There are a handful of annual events, two of which occur in March. 

The most famous film festival in Sonoma Valley is the Sonoma International Film Festival. The Festival’s inaugural year was 1997. Today, it is among the ranks of the “25 Coolest Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine. 

USA Today also named it one of the top 10 US Destination Film Festivals. Check it out and be among the first to see cinematic masterpieces. 

  • Sonoma International Film Festival
  • California Artisan Cheese Festival
  • Wine Road Barrel Tasting
  • Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

April: Best Time to Check Out the Food Scene

Sonoma Valley is primarily known for two things: food and wine. The food scene in Sonoma is remarkable, and there is no better time to enjoy it than in the pleasant April weather. 

Sonoma has fabulous seafood. While here, you must indulge in salmon, oysters, and Dungeness crab. Sonoma has plenty of farmland too. Much of it is taken up by their famous vineyards, but there is bountiful fresh produce across the Valley too.

  • Apple Blossom Festival and Parade
  • Butter and Egg Day Parade and Festival
  • Battle of the Brews
  • Cloverdale Citrus Fair

Related Read: 10 Best Hiking Trails At Big Bear

May: Best Time to Visit Quarryhill Botanical Garden

Everything is in blossom in Sonoma in May. Visit this month to see gorgeous flora all over the valley. One of the best places to see it is at the Quaryhill Botanical Garden.

Credit: Bob Dass / Flickr

Pacific Horticulture Magazine calls Quaryhill a “sanctuary for Asian plants.” The twenty-acre garden nestled in the rolling hills is an excellent place to spend an afternoon. 

Part of what makes this garden so special is its authenticity. There are no manicured hedges. Instead, expect thick gardens overflowing with stunning plants. 

  • Luther Burbank Rose Parade and Festival
  • Bodega Bay Fishermans Festival
  • Film Fest Petaluma

June: Best Time to Take a Wine Tour

Sonoma Valley is famous for its wine. There is no better time to take a wine tour than in June when the weather is at a lovely 84 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Newer wines from the previous harvest in October will also start hitting the shelves around this time.

Plan to visit numerous vineyards during your stay. Sonoma has an excellent variety of grapes that produce red, white, and sparkling wines. June also provides a stunning vineyard view due to the minimal chance of rain or cloud cover. 

  • Taste of Sonoma
  • Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic
  • Country Summer Music Festival
  • Beerfest

July: Best Time to Take a Canoe Trip

The Sonoma Valley includes the Pacific coast, two rivers, and two lakes. Canoeing and kayaking are popular on each body of water. Take the opportunity to paddle the waters in July when temperatures in Sonoma are at their peak.

Although the lakes and ocean are stunning, the most popular thing to do is take to the river. The Russian and Gualala Rivers both cut through some of Sonoma’s most famous vineyards. 

  • Fort Ross Festival
  • Petaluma Art and Garden Festival
  • Wine and Dixieland Festival
  • All American Zin Day

Related Read: 15 BEST California State Parks! Camping Tips!

August: Best Time to Celebrate the Arts: Check Out the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

Sonoma has a flourishing community of artists. Take some time to celebrate their work. Attend the annual August event, Art in the Redwoods, and check out some of Sonoma’s famous museums. One of the best is the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. 

Credit: WineCountry Media / Flickr

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art has various rotating exhibits that feature local and international creators. Spend an afternoon wandering the galleries to see everything that the stunning museum has to offer. 

  • Art in the Redwoods Festival
  • Sonoma County Fair
  • Bodega Seafood, Art, and Wine Festival
  • Petaluma Music Festival

September: Best Time to Purchase Wine: Sonoma County Wine Auction

There is never a bad time to purchase wine in Sonoma. If you’re visiting, chances are you’ll leave with a bottle or three. September is possibly the cheapest month to purchase wine due to the Sonoma County Wine Auction. 

Credit: Sonoma Farm Bureau / Flickr

The Wine Auction is an annual event where vineyards from across the Valley auction off some of their finest bottles. Come ready to bid on otherwise expensive wines and enjoy the event. Proceeds go to local charities. 

  • Sonoma Plein Air Festival
  • Old Grove Festival

October: Best Time to Check Out Safari West

Safari West is known as the Sonoma Serengeti. There is no better time to visit than gorgeous October when temperatures finally dip below 80 and rainfall is still minimal. 

The adventurous destination is a wildlife foundation with a range of foreign creatures such as elephants, giraffes, and warthogs to name a few. Take a guided tour of the foundation or spend a night. Raised cottages are available for those hoping for close encounters with the amazing wildlife. 

  • Sonoma County Harvest Fair
  • Pinot On the River

November: Best Time to Walk the Sonoma Overlook Trail

Sonoma Valley is a gorgeous place with stunning nature to check out. The Sonoma Overlook Trail winds its way up high into the region. It is an excellent way to see the rolling vineyards from a bird’s eye view.

Catch a glimpse of the Pacific, the Russian River, and more from the trail. November is a great time to take the hike as temperatures are in the 60s Fahrenheit and rainfall is still low. 

  • Wine and Food Affair
  • Santa Rosa Brick Palooza

Related Read: 20 Best Camping Spots In Northern California

December: Lighted Boat Parade in Petaluma

Petaluma in general is a gorgeous Sonoma County destination. Each December, the town hosts a lighted boat parade to ring in the holiday season. 

Credit: spauldi1 / Flickr

Small boats draped in Christmas lights parade down the river as the nearby Junior High School band performs some songs. It is a quaint event, yet gorgeous and spirited nonetheless. 

  • Transcendence Holiday Show
  • Luther Burbank Holiday Open House

What is the Best Time to Avoid Crowds in Sonoma?

The best time to avoid crowds in Sonoma is during the off-season of November through May. 

Although fewer tourists come at this time, Sonoma isn’t really a seasonal town. People visit year-round. Events are also hosted each month. 

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