Favorite Escape

By Kate Riley October 22, 2009

One of my absolute favorite places to relax and getaway for an afternoon is the southern corridor of Sonoma on Highway 121.  Along this route are three of my favorite wineries, an amazing European Antiques store, and my favorite high end salvage shop.  I always take visitors to Viansa winery, a little piece of Italy in the southern part of Sonoma, built on a hilltop to capture valley views.  Guests love to snap photos of the architecture of this winery, with its tiled rooftops and terra cotta colored walls covered with climbing ivy. 


outdor tasting roomoutdor tasting room 

Whenever visitors come to town, this is where I like to take them for an incredible afternoon.

The grounds are covered in olive trees, statues, flowers, and grapevines.

stunning gardens

 statue and grapes

stunning gardens 2

stunning gardens 3

grapes and flowers


This sentiment captures the mood of the property. 

trouble with sign

Inside the tasting room, there are two separate bars to taste wine, and a mouthwatering collection of gourmet treats in their store, including olive oils, tapenades, vinegars, grilling sauces, and other culinary delights. 

tastting room

 olive oils

Viansa has expansive lawns and picnic grounds, and has a terrace where any visitor can see the Sonoma valley. 

valley view

Another favorite stop reminiscent of Italy is right next door.  The rustic stone Jacuzzi Winery was completed in 2007, but the architecture manages to fool you into thinking it has been there since the family immigrated to America in 1907.


Jacuzzi is a modern model of sustainable farming practices that makes this wine tasting facility not only beautiful but environmentally conscious. The courtyard, piazza, fountains, and barrel room are elegant and worthy of any special event.

jacuzzi courtyard

courtyard tree

jacuzzi grapes

jacuzzi fountain 

An added treat is The Olive Press tasting room featuring local olive oils, and the expansive selections of unfiltered blends with The Olive Press label. Also noteworthy for their unique fragrance are the candles and soaps made from olive oil.

olive press oils 

If I can spare the time, I love to pop into Sonoma Country Antiques to browse their collection of European imports and be inspired. 

sonoma antiques

country antiques 1 

country antiques 2

country antiques 3

country antiques 4 

I’d give a limb for one of these pricey antique French wine jugs.  Swoon ! A girl can dream, right ?


  1. This is going on my List for fav day trips – only a short distance from Sacto where I am. I’d love to check out the salvage shop. Your pics are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. Reminds me to do a post about good ol’ Apple Hill, just up the street from my mother’s. Beautiful colors right now.

  2. Visiting your website each morning is like taking a quick mini vacation! I love the purple hued flowers and all the greenery. You’re wonderful for documenting and sharing such a variety of things for us!

  3. I live in the Bay Area and don’t go to Sonoma/Napa often enough. I’m definitely going soon. If fact, I was looking for something to do this weekend and I bet the fall colors are amazing! I’m going!!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  4. I’ve never been to these places. I’m putting them on my to do list. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. Come on by for a visit. Have a great day. Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

  5. woah. I know why you take your guests there…it is wonderful to look at in the pictures, and can just imagine how great it is in reality! thanks for sharing it with us all…serious eye candy there!

  6. Fabulous photos! I am in love with that island with the greenish finish to it (just above the one of those gorgeous wine jugs). Such a beautiful area. I love these tours you share with us. :)

  7. I just found your wonderful blog! I too live in the wine country (Sonoma County) and think it is one of the best places to live. When I start to feel down and out, all it takes is a trip out of our area to realize how blessed I am to raise my children here. Thank you for taking the time to blog!

  8. I love Sonoma. We were there about 4 years ago and enjoyed all of it. You are so lucky to live out there. I am so jealous:)

  9. Sigh. I miss Wine Country. We used to live in North Beach in SF, followed by Lafayette (before we moved to Santa Monica and, now, Omaha, which has NO wine country, just lots of corn! :) and we’d go up there everytime we could. Sonoma was our favorite, with stops at the cheese store, the Irish pub in the square and a peek in the mission, followed by Viansa and Vie Sattui was always a stop for their very affordable Zinfandels. Also love Yountville and St. Helena. If I had millions of dollars, I’d buy a house in St. Helena and eat at Bistro Jeanty once a week.

    Love the photography and reminiscing!

    PS – E-mail coming soon. Probably this weekend. Excited!

  10. My mother and I were inspired by a wagon-turned table for sale at the Sonoma Antiques store, but of course, arm and a limb price. So we scoured antique sales in Sacramento area, found a old old Hungarian hay wagon, put an aged piece of wood on top and a standing umbrella next to it- boom, outdoor wine bar. great place for inspiration!

  11. You’re making me think it’s time for another trip to the wine country. We live about an hour and a half away near Lodi; I think I need to grab my hubby and hit the road. We’ll probably check out the wineries you featured…. gee, you should get some kind of commission Kate!

  12. So Jealous! Looks like a beautiful place to have a wedding. I might have to send a couple of my friends over here to look at these pictures!

  13. I just found your blog and I am totally in love. Not to mention that my Husband use to work at the Olive Press. And yes, weddings at Viansa are great. So excited to read more about your favorite antique spots in the area!

  14. Checking out your old posts on Napa/Sonoma as I’ll be there for the half marathon in July. Hoping to sneak a little antique-ing and sightseeing in after the race.
    I’ll be sure to visit these two wineries and the antique store.
    Thank you!

  15. Recently found your blog and LOVE it! We were married in Sonoma County at Landmark and visit the wine country as often as we can. My husband used to live in Glen Ellen when we met so it has a special place for us. We live in the south bay and just don’t get up to Sonoma as often as we used to. We enjoyed looking at your wine country pictures this morning and talked about a weekend trip soon – but unfortunately we’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel! You’ve also inspired me with your beautiful home. Thanks!

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