In Sonoma County, there’s always a place at the table. It’s a place to connect with the land and with each other. The heart of Sonoma is just 60-minutes west of Sacramento and 45-minutes north of San Francisco. At the invitation of friends, we recently discovered one of California’s top food and wine destinations, home to more than 425 wineries ranging from rustic to regal. See where we found to sip, shop and nosh along the way, challenging us to divert from our typical Napa Valley routine.
Right off the historic Sonoma Plaza you will find Fulcrum Wines’ new Tasting Room. Casual, but elegant, we quickly tasted through a variety of Vineyard Designated Pinot Noirs and other limited production wines. With the knowledge of the staff, we learned about wine origins and tasted how these special grapes express themselves in different areas of Sonoma and even from other areas of California. For $25 visitors can sample any five of their amazing wines—or they will waive this fee with any two bottle purchase, which is easy to do!
Pangloss Cellars is home to a carefully restored 117-year-old historic building on the town square in Sonoma where California was founded. Given Pangloss Cellar’s obsession with handcrafting wines using Old World techniques, their attraction to the old building was natural.
Bringing the building back to its original glory was a first step in the winery forming a deep bond with their beautiful new home. Over the course of a 9-month restoration project they painstakingly recreated the original redwood and glass storefront. Stonemasons spent months chiseling away layers of plaster to reveal the original stone walls, and carpenters exposed the old hand-sawn beams and brought in reclaimed oak floors. I personally love the herringbone pattern the hardwood is set in. Having regained the building’s special character and soul, the building is ready to welcome visitors near and far.
The Texture Wine experience is an intimate, comparative tasting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the elegant tasting salon of a 117-year-old building on the Sonoma Square—just behind Pangloss. Like Texture itself, this is a hidden gem accessible only to a select few. You literally need to know the password in signature speakeasy style.
Only in the Texture Salon can you experience Texture wines, featuring seasonally inspired food pairings prepared by their culinary team to complement each wine. Their small-bite selections embrace Sonoma’s sustainable bounty, from the Pacific Ocean to local farms and gardens.
SIGH. was established in 2012 aiming to fill the void of venues offering a vast array of quality Champagne and Sparkling Wines. Since their Sonoma introduction, they have made the addition of still wine, beer and light bites to their menu. They offer a lively atmosphere where staff is happy to entertain and educate you on the joys of the world’s most celebrated beverage. Check out their mirrored gallery wall of fanciful quotes and photos.
When you’re shopping in Sonoma County, you’ll find everything from high-end outlets to small boutiques, winery gift shops, and country stores. Each town has something unique to offer—we walked Sonoma Plaza and revisited an old favorite.
WILLIAMS SONOMA FLAGSHIP STORE
No, this is not a plug, we truly recommend paying homage to the original Williams-Sonoma, in, you guessed it– Sonoma. Peek in their original store, which recently reopened in 2014, and check out their collection of original wares as well as some new pieces to add to your kitchen. You will find furnishings upstairs and a beautiful garden in the back which will give you a great sense of what it could be like to live in Sonoma.
If you have extra time, about a half mile northeast of downtown Sebastopol, The Barlow is a 12.5-acre industrial park featuring restaurants, wineries, breweries, galleries, and unique shops. Many of these businesses make their products onsite, letting you watch the production process while you sip, nibble, or browse. The thoughtful curation and design detail in each of the shops is inspiring.
The culture and food of the Mayan region of Mexico differs from northern Mexico in many ways due to European and Caribbean influence. The Mayan flavors of the Yucatan are vibrant, spicy and delightful. Their energy exudes in Mayan restaurants—eating exciting food, drinking great tequila, laughing and dancing with friends and family. Maya’s creative and exuberant staff, the temple of tequila, and the company of good friends and neighbors will fill you with the Yucatan Spirit in the Heart of Sonoma.
LAYLA AT MACARTHUR PLACE
Recently renovated in pure farmhouse style, Layla is a comfortable, sophisticated, “Mediterranean kitchen” dining experience from Executive Chef Cole Dickinson featuring healthy, organic options, fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, and an open, communal vibe. Layla features a range of simple, fresh, healthy options in addition to richer, more indulgent fare. Shareable plates and family-style platters reinforce the warm, convivial, communal vibe. Don’t hesitate to each at the bar for a more intimate experience with a more casual menu.
Have you been to Sonoma? Share what’s on your must do list!