If you’ve decided to explore beautiful Sonoma County by bicycle, you should know that not all alcohol establishments are bike-friendly.
However, as long as you don’t BUI (bike under the influence), these six wineries and breweries in Sonoma will welcome you with open arms (and bike racks).
Photo by Robert Annis
Hop Kiln Winery, Healdsburg
Located just off the lightly traveled Westside Road outside of Healdsburg, Hop Kiln gets so many cyclists passing through, they need a sign advising riders to leave their cleated cycling shoes at the door. (The wood floor is more than 100 years old, and the owners would like to keep it in pristine condition for another hundred). The former hop farm turned vineyard also features a variety of locally sourced gourmet meats, cheeses and other treats, so it’s the perfect spot for a midday lunch break in the garden. The light and crisp Rose of pinot noir is an ideal lunch accompaniment.
Sbragia Family Vineyards, Geyserville
Make sure to hit Sbragia early in the day; a semi-steep hill (think 7-8 percent grade) winding up to the winery can wreak havoc on road-weary legs. The effort is worth it, as you’re rewarded with an incredible view of the Dry Creek Valley and some of the finest wines in Sonoma County. A wrap-around deck just off the wine-tasting area overlooks miles of vineyards lining the surrounding hills. Taste the La Promessa Zinfandel, a rich wine with notes of blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate, as well as slight hints of vanilla.
Photo by Robert Annis
On a hot summer day, Bella offers the perfect respite from the sweltering sun. Underneath the rows of vines lining the hills lays a man-made cave where the winemakers store their barrels in a perpetual 60-degree environment. That’s where you’ll also find the tasting area and a few picnic tables where you can rest briefly before biking toward your next destination. Bella is mostly known for their bold reds, but one of their softer, sweeter wines might be best to wash down that midride Clif bar. Try the Todd Brothers Zinfandel, a fruity, slightly spicy wine with hints of licorice.
Bear Republic, Healdsburg
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty
You know a place is bike-friendly when they have a couple of bicycles hanging as decoration. Bear Republic has plenty of bike parking outside the building, and inside you’re likely to find dozens of riders decked out in their finest Lycra, fresh from a ride. Don’t order the massive jalapeño tower burger if you need to ride back to your hotel, but do try the tasty Red Rocket Scottish-style Ale.
Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa
One of the most popular microbreweries in the state, Russian River is located just off a bike lane in pleasant downtown Santa Rosa, and you better believe that bike lane is used quite a bit by brewery visitors. There are a few bike racks near the front of the brewpub. Although it’s a fairly large facility, expect a short wait during peak dining hours. While you’re waiting, taste Pliny the Elder, the Double IPA that Russian River is famous for (along with its sibling, Pliny the Younger, the Triple IPA that was once named the best beer in the world by Beer Advocate magazine).
HopMonk Tavern, Sebastopol
Located at the end of the 8.5-mile Joe Rodota Trail, HopMonk offers the perfect reward for finishing your ride. Once there, you’ll find a large outdoor seating area with plenty of spots for locking up your bike. Although HopMonk features a handful of house beers, they’re all brewed off-site; the HopMonk IPA is the best of the bunch, featuring a hoppy, citrusy flavor with just the right amount of bite. If you’re staying for food, you can’t go wrong with the chicken Philly sandwich on naan or the jambalaya.
After spending nearly a decade as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star, Robert Annis finally broke free of the shackles of gainful employment and now freelances full time, specializing in cycling and outdoor travel journalism.