While most people head straight to Napa for California wine country, Sonoma was actually the birthplace of the entire industry. The valley is home to some of the earliest vineyards and wineries in the state, some of which survived the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and prohibition in the roaring 20s. It's also the closest wine region to San Francisco, just 45 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo Credit: Torbakhopper

A relaxing downtown perfect for exploring, food, art and wine is a central focus of the region. Cradled between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountain ranges, Sonoma Valley encompasses 13,000 acres of parkland. The eight-acre Sonoma Plaza is a preserved National Historic Landmark, while nearby you can see where famed adventurer Jack London lived and got his inspiration.

Sebastiani Winery is a beautiful family owned vineyard that will make an idyllic setting for a wedding, but there are plenty of other vineyards to taste and tour. We plan to start our day with a bit of sparkly at Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves and then move onto a private barrel tasting at Kosta Browne -- a very small producer whose wines receive rave reviews. My husband is excited for lunch at Taylors Refresher's, an old-school burger stand in St. Helena. In the afternoon, we will head to Merry Edwards for a private tasting. Merry was one of the first female winemakers in the Napa Valley and she is a well known and respected winemaker. Our day will conclude with dinner at The Girl and The Fig, a French country bistro, with what else, but more wine!