Thomas Keller’s elusive French Laundry and its endless waiting list put Yountville on the map. And it is a true food and wine lover’s paradise, bursting with boutique hotels and wine collectives.
One of these is Maisonry Winery Collective where boutique wines pair perfectly with art. The ivy-covered manor is filled with local works of art and limited production wines, both available for purchase. Maisonry is just north of the heart of Yountville and a short walk to many acclaimed hotels and restaurants. (maisonry.com)
Another coveted tasting spot is hope & grace, modest producers of 3,500 cases annually. Focusing on limited production, winemaker Charles Hendricks creates 100 percent single vineyard vintages—Pinots, Cabs, Chards. For a nominal fee, you can taste them all at the chic Yountville salon. (hopeandgracewines.com)
The town is also home to other Keller hot spots, including his French bistro Bouchon, where meals can be made from starters alone: oysters, pate, and escargot, followed by savory crocks of French onion soup. Be sure to save room for the chocolate chip cake at Bouchon Bakery next door. Sold by the bagful, the decadent cake chunks are the perfect gift to take home (if they make it that far). (thomaskeller.com)
Before returning home, sample another type of gastronomy: grilled fish tacos topped with cabbage and tangy dressing at Tacos Garcia, a taco truck in the parking lot of the dive bar Pancha’s. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Located at the intersection of Napa and Alexander Valleys, Geyserville is another small town packed with tasting rooms, vineyards, and homegrown delicacies. It’s a great spot for a day trip, but even more fun overnight or even a full weekend.
If you’re looking to combine wine tasting and recreation, look no further than Francis Ford Coppola Winery, where the famed director has created an oasis including a gorgeous and enormous swimming pool with poolside service, a bocce ball court, an award winning restaurant, and, of course, plenty of wine.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441
P: (707) 857-1400
Outdoor activities are plentiful as both the Russian River and Lake Sonoma are within a few minutes’ drive. If you try the river, Burke’s Canoes is the only way to go. This company has been in business for decades, so reservations are recommended. May through October are the best months for canoeing, but the nice weather stretches into late fall and early spring.
8600 River Road, Forestville
P: (707) 887-1222
As with any town in this area, tasting rooms are aplenty. There are a few downtown, conveniently located within a block of one another and offering everything white, red, and bubbles. In the same short block, you’ll also find just a few restaurants, each unique and delicious in its way.
The definition of homegrown, Catelli’s is where siblings Domenica and Nicholas Catelli continue the family tradition of serving artisanal italian food.
21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, CA
Diavola follows suit, practicing the time-honored tradition of cucina povera which consists of using the most basic locally available ingredients combined with recipes that have been proven through centuries.
They take pride in our house-cured salumi and sausages, as well as their authentic Italian pizzas fresh from a wood burning pizza oven.They take pride in our house-cured salumi and sausages, as well as their authentic Italian pizzas fresh from a wood burning pizza oven.
21021 Geyserville Ave at Hwy 128
P: (707) 814-0111
Continuing in our series on small town getaways, we take a look Sebastopol, a small Sonoma County town that feels a little bit hippie with a whole lot of locavore.
Allegedly named for an epic 1850s fistfight that reminded locals of the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, Sebastopol is not just another stop in the Napa Valley. It’s also known for the Gravenstein apple trees lining State 116 (also called the Gravenstein Highway) north of town.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Sonoma County without a tasting room or two. Sebastopol is home to Iron Horse Vineyards, renowned for its sparkling wines. These were most famously served at the White House for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, beginning with the historic Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meetings ending the Cold War.
9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: (707) 887-1507
Another great spot is Lynmar Estate, offering both Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley wines. More than just delicious pinots and delicate chards, this winery offers unique food and wine pairings, and even hosts monthly “Pinot & Pizza” evenings.
It’s no surprise that they also offer a guest house, located on the estate and surrounded by 360° views of the vineyards, organic vegetable gardens and wildflowers. “The Bliss House” is a gracious 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is perfect for a romantic getaway or a base from which to explore wine country. A true splurge, per night pricing starts at $975 and increases to $1500 and is available for wine club members only.
3909 Frei Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472
If you’re looking to grab a bite and a night’s stay a bit closer to town, start with HopMonk Tavern where the outdoor dining is a real treat.
The food is varied and satisfying, taking typical bar bites to a slightly higher standard, and their craft beers go down easy before or after a full day of tasting or exploring. For a night’s stay that feels a bit easier on the wallet, but still very quaint, try Avalon B&B where you’ll find innkeepers committed to the full B&B experience offering delicious breakfast, cozy beds, and the occasional glass of your choice. http://www.avalonluxuryinn.com/
Sometimes a day trip isn’t enough! In this series, we explore individual cities in the Sonoma and Napa Valley and recommend great spots to visit during the day, into the evening, and even beyond. First up, a look at Healdsburg.
Healdsburg sits at the crux of three world-class wine-growing regions, the Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek Valley. Similar to Sonoma in format, Healdsburg has a historic downtown plaza lined with tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops. A standout amongst many is SHED, the legendary food emporium that features a cafe, pantry, and outdoor wood-fired grill. Beyond this, there’s Bear Republic, a classic brewery serving up Racer 5 IPA alongside burgers and bites, local cheeses and charcuterie. Just down the street is Studio Barndiva an art gallery and bar featuring eclectic collection of wire art, paintings, and sculpture.
While in Healdsburg, you can’t help but taste at the many glorious wineries. For a solid selection of whites and reds, head to Chateau Diana. It’s family-owned and offers Wine “lushies” as well as complimentary popcorn. For a classy tasting room and immaculate patio, try J Vineyards where a solid selection of bubbly, whites and reds await!
After all of the food and drink, enjoy an overnight stay in a cozy cottages or a luxurious boutique hotel. You’ll have your pick of quite a few from Healdsburg Modern Cottages to Relais and Chateaux Hotel Les Mars. Either way, you’re guarantee to enjoy the charm of Healdsburg.