Celebrated Sonoma and Sebastopol Wineries Reopen

Guests enjoy the hospitality of Sonoma county winemakers and an event by Sonoma County Tourism.
Guests enjoy the hospitality of Sonoma county winemakers and an event by Sonoma County Tourism.

Two years after the global pandemic effectively crushed tourism for Sonoma and Sebastopol wineries, tasting rooms are opening again. The lights are coming back on. And visitors from all parts of the globe are raising a glass to celebrate the return of relative normalcy.

To welcome Los Angeles-based travelers out of their homes and back to wine country, on March 22, 2022 Sonoma County Tourism, hosted a very special event. An Evening With Sonoma: Beyond a New Perspective – Life Opens Up was a veritable reopening for Sonoma and Sebastopol wineries and tourism alike. 

Media attendees at the Sebastopol Winery event in Los Angeles.
(Left to Right) Brittany Silverstein from KABC-TV, Andy Harris from the SoCal Restaurant Show, Lifestyle Reporter Cheri Fox, Cori Solomon of The Written Palette and winemaker Ross Halleck of Sebastopol Winery Halleck Vineyard.

The event was held at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip and many notable guests were on hand. Our vintner Ross Halleck of family owned West Sonoma, Sebastopol Winery Halleck Vineyard poured current releases. Andy Harris, host of the SoCal Restaurant Show dropped by to mingle with vintners and taste their wines. Award-winning wine and culinary writer and reviewer Cori Solomon sampled a variety of Pinot and Chardonnay offerings. And local Sebastopol artist Alana Tillman displayed her latest acrylic on canvas Sonoma landscapes.

New Nonstop Flights to Visit Sonoma & Sebastopol Wineries

Sonoma County Tourism CEO Claudia Vecchio invited guests to enjoy great food, the best bottles of wine from locale wineries and shared a brief tourism update. One highlight is a new airline offering daily nonstop service between Burbank and Santa Rosa. Los Angeles-based wine lovers have a more convenient way to travel to Sonoma and Sebastopol wine tasting rooms.

Sonoma County Tourism CEO Claudia Vecchio and Sebastopol Wineries welcome Los Angeles-based visitors to Sonoma.
Sonoma County Tourism CEO Claudia Vecchio talks about travel and tourism conditions in Sonoma Valley post-lockdown.

With an estimated flight time of an hour and 13 minutes, Houston-based Avelo Airlines has introduced the wine country route. Travelers can get to Sebastopol Wineries without the hassle of battling through LAX or SFO.

Wineries and Tasting Rooms Back in Business

Vice President of Business Development Johnny Westom – who recently joined the Sonoma tourism board from Visit Dana Point – spoke about the plethora of special event and meeting venues open for business. Travel and meeting planners can book all kinds of amazing venues right now at extremely competitive rates. There are also a number of Sonoma wine festivals reopening this summer for the first time post lockdown, which offer a nice mix of work and play opportunities for meeting planners.

Johnny Westom is Sonoma County Tourism Vice President Business Development
Destination business development expert Johnny Westom is Sonoma County Tourism’s new Vice President

Johnny Westom brings an impressive array of experience and talent to the table along with significant familiarity with Sonoma. He served as Executive Director of Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau for three years, where he developed significant relationships with regional and national corporate planners. He was also the driving force behind a brand refresh.

Donum winery in Careneros.
The Donum, a winery near Sebastopol which brings to life the delicate balance of fine wine and sustainable farming, poured Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for guests.

An event dedicated to Sonoma wouldn’t be complete without a chance to taste some of the region’s best wines. Winery representatives uncorked many varietals including Dry White Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.

Guests enjoyed Russian River Chardonnay from Halleck Vineyard, Chardonnay from Donum (45 minutes from Sebastopol) and Dutcher Crossing Winery (37 minutes from The Barlow).

A winery representative from Dutcher Crossing in Sonoma County.

Vintner Ross Halleck also poured two Halleck Vineyard award-winning Pinots: 2018 Sonoma Coast, 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. He also shared his current Dry White Zinfandel release for style blogger/red wine lover Jessica Moore and travel blogger Alicia Chew.

Ross Halleck shares Dry White Zinfandel Rose with bloggers Alicia Chew and Jessica Moore.
Ross Halleck shares his Dry White Zinfandel Rose with style bloggers Alicia Chew and Jessica Moore.

Visiting Sonoma County

Although travelers from all across the globe visit Central Valley wine tasting rooms and other California wine country destinations, approximately 21% of the area’s visitors come from Southern California. To break the numbers down further, 68% of these visitors live in Los Angeles, and the remaining 32% reside in Orange County.

Guests enjoying Enriquez Estate Wines at the Sonoma winemakers gathering in Los Angeles.
Meredith Barlin share Enriquez Estate Wines with Guests at the Sonoma winemakers gathering in Los Angeles.

The top activities for those visiting Sonoma from the southern part of the state include shopping, wine tasting, sightseeing, enjoying celebrations, and attending conventions. 

Other activities guests of Sonoma can enjoy are hiking, fishing, boating, or simply exploring the area’s more than 30 quaint communities and idyllic countryside, including the rugged Pacific coastline with its towering redwoods.

Ross Halleck with a travel planner at an event for Sebastopol wineries in Los Angeles.
Ross Halleck with a travel planner at an event for Sebastopol wineries in Los Angeles.

As beautiful Sonoma continues to open up, estate tasting salons, inns, restaurants, spas, and tour operators ready to welcome guests back to the magic this unique environment offers. Visitors are encouraged to rediscover walks under the redwoods, early morning mists over the vineyards, and the taste of Pinot Noir while the past two years fade into the background. 

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Marta Heacock

Marta Heacock

Marta spends her time between her home on the West Coast and a salmon cannery on the southern tip of Alaska’s panhandle that she co-owns with her son. She frequently brings these worlds together by pairing wild Alaska salmon with Pinot Noir.

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