The drive from San Francisco to the Napa and Sonoma wine country offers views as spectacular as any our country has to offer. The route takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge, past the waterfront village of Sausalito, and over the scenic tributaries branching off the San Pablo Wildlife Preserve. This journey ends at the peaceful Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, one of the marquee properties in the Napa/Sonoma area.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is built on a natural hot springs and has classic, Spanish style architecture similar to our own Santa Barbara Biltmore. The Water Tower, a historic landmark, overlooks the entire property, which is beautifully landscaped and recently remodeled. The rooms are spacious and offer five-star comforts. The bed linens at a Fairmont are as comfortable as you can get and will be greatly appreciated after a long day of wine tasting or golf. Flat Screen TVs and oversized luxurious bathrooms complete the experience.
This property is well known for its Willow Stream Spa. It is one of the only luxury spas in the U.S. to have its own source of thermal mineral water, which flows 1,100 feet below the Inn at a temperature of 135 degrees. The Spa and Fitness center are spread over 43,000 square feet and are state-of-the-art. There are two pool areas including one right below The Water Tower. Visit Fairmont.com/Sonoma for complete details.
The private Sonoma Golf Club is available to guests at the Sonoma Mission Inn and it is well worth the time. The course was designed in 1928 by Sam Whiting, whose works include the famed Lake Course at the Olympic Club, a regular U.S. Open site. Sonoma Golf Club is mostly known for recently hosting the Champions Tour Charles Schwab Cup.
Sonoma Golf Club covers 177 acres framed by vineyards and set on rolling terrain with large oaks and a couple of lakes. This is a great walk in the park for those so inclined and we found it to be in fantastic condition. The Mayacama Mountains frame the scene on this traditional layout. The Tuscan style clubhouse is a great place to unwind after golf and keep tabs on your favorite football team. Tennis is also available at this golf club.
On this visit we dined at The Big Three, which is adjacent to the hotel. This is a very elegant restaurant overlooking the daily scene in Sonoma. Our entrees of duck confit pizza and blackened fish tacos were expertly prepared. The menu is supplied by the freshest ingredients, provided by local organic farming operations. The service was great and the entire restaurant is adorned with photos depicting Sonoma’s rich history. The atmosphere is casual here but the cuisine and service are the equal of any fine dining establishment in the area.
Sante is the signature restaurant just off the lobby area and one of the top-rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. A recipient of the AAA Four Diamond award and Michelin designations it has also been recognized with the “Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator. Resort guests can also dine at the Sonoma Golf Club Grill offering uninterrupted views of the golf course. The warm atmosphere includes wood beam ceilings, mission style furnishings and an outdoor fireplace.
Points of Interest
All of the best wineries are within minutes of the resort. Sebastiani, B.R. Cohn, and Ravenswood are very close. Napa and Calistoga feature more wineries, restaurants, and home to the mud bath. This part of Northern California is also great for more adventurous side trips with an abundance of natural beauty. The rugged Pacific is less than an hour’s drive offering jaw-dropping scenery. Bodega Harbor and Point Reyes National Seashore are both within reach. So is the Russian River home to the exclusive Bohemian Grove where former Presidents meet up with captains of industry each summer for the annual encampment.
Visiting the coastal areas will require much of the day and might be best done prior to or right after departure from the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. A two-night stay here should give you plenty of access to the famous winemakers and time for a round of golf.