Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Vineyards of Northern California

Recently, the Sonoma County Tourism Board in California chose me to be one of the next faces of Sonoma County and I was beyond thrilled to be representing the beautiful county that I call home. And that was way before knowing that one of the perks to being a representative (aka: a Sonomad) was a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque vineyards of Northern California. Lucky Day.

A hot air balloon ride had been on my bucket list for an unacceptable amount of time and was begging for a check.

A view of hot air balloons on air

At the unlucky morning hour of 4:30, I awoke sleepy-eyed, yet ready for the adventure that awaited. Truth be told, there are limited reasons why I would get out of bed at this time in the morning. Very limited. One being an early flight to an exotic location, which I still try to avoid at all costs and the other is to yell “shut up” to the neighbors after they have been drinking all night and wanting to have that “you don’t really love me” relationship battle in front of my bedroom window at the wee hours of the morning. I am not at all bitter about that.

But, I will make an exception for the absurd hour of this wake-up call for a Hot Air Balloon Ride over Sonoma County. I may have even been a little bit chipper. As chipper as four a.m. gets.

We met at the airport, where our balloon company, Up & Away drove us to the take-off location. The guests would be in charge of inflating this colorful, soon-to-be mode of transportation and with little effort two people held the opening of the hole. I was very existed, I’ve always wanted to take part in one of these Napa Valley Balloons rides! First, cold air was blown into the flat bag, then hot air from the burners finished it off, possibly taking some eyebrows with it.

Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon

When the hot air balloon was was full, we loaded up: the camera crew, pilot and six Sonomads.

Hot Air Balloon Ride over Sonoma County

The flame propelled us into the air and we began traveling at a fairly slow pace. This may have been the reason why this ride was not as frightening for me as flying in an airplane. That, plus the fact that I could see the pilot right in front of me navigating this flight.

I was ready to poke his eyeballs out if he made one wrong move. He’s lucky he didn’t.

In the beginning, the Sonoma county fog had yet to burn, but that just added to the ambiance.

Hot Air Balloon Ride over Sonoma County

The wind took us traveling in an undesignated direction and led us to reach an elevation 8,000 feet.

We flew high over lush green farmland, rustic barns and the vineyards that were famous in Northern California.

When we reached a large pond, the pilot wanted to show us his skill. Be careful, my eye-poking out threat still stands.

As we flew over the middle of the waters, we began to descend. Not rapidly, but still downward. The captain then proved how much control he had as he dipped the basket just a couple inches into the water. There will be no eye-poking.

After an hour in the air, we landed just as easy as we had ascended and Up & Away had a brunch, complete with mimosas waiting for us.

Cocktails are the perfect ending to a perfect morning.

This experience turned out to be a great addition to my list of the top things to do before you die.

Have you ever taken a ride in a hot air balloon? If not, will you add it to your bucket list?


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22 thoughts on “Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Vineyards of Northern California”

  1. Beautiful shots Annette! I’d love to ride in a balloon one day despite the face the idea frightens me a bit. I have it on my bucket list for someday when I visit Cappadocia in Turkey.

  2. This item is in my bucket list (life list) also, but it showed up recently hahaha so I have a lot others to accomplish first!!! Nice post! ;)

  3. A hot hair balloon ride is probably a year and a half away for me — my mom has wanted to go for YEARS, and we’re secretly planning on arranging one for her 60th birthday. We may even be high above our own vineyards here in central VA :-)

    Looks like it was totally worth the early wake up call!

  4. Hi Annette
    Thanks for writing such a nice story. It was a pleasure taking you
    out that day. The photos I got were so nice, I put one on a coffee
    mug we now use at brunch, and another on my new business card.
    Hope you come see us again someday.
    Up & Away Ballooning

  5. Wow. . . I just love those stunning sky view images of California. I have been to San Francisco once and visited a wine yard in nearest rural area and it was really a great experience. You images and article proves that it is really very lovely to see it from top as well. I would love to do it on my next trip.

  6. Thanks for sharing your hot balloon experience with all of us. Hot air ballooning is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love the picture with you over the water. It must have been exhilarating when the captain dipped the basket in the water.


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I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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