Wine Tasting & Picnics: Sonoma & Napa, California

See also Russian River and Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, for other activities we enjoyed in the area.

Bartholomew Park

This winery is situated in the heart of a 400-acre park. It’s a small estate vineyard, organically farmed and their wines only available for sale through the tasting room or their wine club.

Likely benefitting by it being very quiet when we rocked up, we really enjoyed the tasting since the chap provided lots of interesting information about the wines whilst also showing genuine human interest in those visiting. The wines were very much to our palette and we ended up splashing out on a bottle of their premium Cab Sav, Abbot’s Passage to enjoy with our picnic.

The picnic grounds overlook the vineyards and in the hills behind the winery are approximately 3 miles of marked hiking trails, with a view extending to San Francisco on a clear day. They do appear to offer picnics to order in advance from some really good local restaurants but we just brought along our own cheeses and bread.

Wonderful experience with a very happy tot. One of our faves.


We went to Ravenswood after Bartholomew Park. It’s a much bigger operation with a focus on Zinfandel.

Our wee one slept through the whole thing which was probably a good thing. The tasting room is in a nice spot with some picnic tables outside but not so much space for a tot to roam.

Again, the chap doing the tasting was just lovely which really made the experience. He even gave us all a lift back into town afterwards!

Francis Ford Coppola

This estate is more than just a winery. It has a museum with lots of Coppola film memorabilia, a kid friendly restaurant and if the weather is nicer than during our visit, a whole big pool with sun loungers, all open to the public. So it has the potential to be a great family day out.

Our visit was late afternoon with the intention of seeking out a dry place to roam whilst getting wee one her snooze and then dinner when she woke up. All went to plan, allowing us a cheeky wine tasting pre dinner. Nice, easy drinking wines and great Italian food in the restaurant.

Gundlach Bundschu

This winery was a lovely spot to arrive at after a slightly harrowing cycle where we’d ended up on a very busy road with no bike lanes, that’s another story.

The tasting room is by a beautiful lake with a big area full of shaded picnic tables outside. Since it was quiet we were also able to bring our wine tasting to accompany our cheese based picnic, perfect. Great wines too.

For those with more energy upon arrival there are also some hiking paths around the grounds.

Rutherford Hill

This was our first winery and picnic stop in California and our only one in Napa. We’d had a false start at HALL Wines which I’m sure is great, just not really a workable setup with tots in the tasting room. In contrast Rutherford Hill was perfect. Very quiet when we arrived, the tasting staff were wonderfully relaxed and I think all related to or the owners themselves. We were able to take our tasting outside to their beautiful manicured garden to accompany our picnic. They even had corn ball which kept our wee tot especially happy posting the beanbags into the hole.

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