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Ballooning

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Ballooning for a bird's eye view of Sonoma Wine Country...

When: Hot air ballooning is a year-round activity in Sonoma County. In January, February, and March most of the rainfall occurs, but even then there will be many sunny days, particularly at the coast where fog tends to prevail in the summer. All hot air balloons rides take place in the very early morning hours, before other activities are generally available. Most include a celebratory champagne brunch upon landing.

Where: For thirty-five years, colorful hot air balloons have dotted the sky in Sonoma County. Floating serenely on gentle air currents, you will get a birds-eye view of western Sonoma County, an experience you will never forget. Views include the rugged Pacific Coast, the beautiful Russian River, the Geyser Mountains, Dry Creek Valley, vineyards, farms, redwood forests, and even the San Francisco skyline.

Set down is often at a winery, although the currents dictate and you may find yourself in a field. Trucks or vans follow the balloons to ensure your return to the starting point. Many balloons are limited to four people, plus the pilot, but some companies have larger balloons capable of carrying up to 16 passengers. Pilots are FAA-certified.

Have No Fear: Interestingly enough, even those who have a fear of heights will enjoy a hot air balloon ride. The eye has no linear perspective to judge distance from the ground. There is no physical sensation of movement or of wind. Traveling at 500 to 1500 feet above the ground, the feeling is one of complete tranquility as you float gently above spectacular vistas.

Ballooning Resources

Above the Wine Country Ballooning/Wine Country Balloons
2508 Burnside Road, Sebastopol
800-759-5638; 707-829-7695

Aerostat Adventures
P.O.Box 2082, Healdsburg
800-579-0183; 707-423-3777