California’s Wine Country will always have a special place in my heart. It was where Alan and I went on our first official date. Yup, we went away for a long weekend to Sonoma for our first date and the rest, as they say, is history! We’ve already decided we want to retire in Sonoma but that’s not stopping us from visiting the area on a regular basis. After last year’s devastating fires, we knew we wanted to spend time in the area to help support one of our favorite places.
Where to Stay
Carneros Resort & Spa
Carneros is worth the hype from the California casual cottages (which are stand-alone) to the restaurants and the grounds. It’s worth penny pinching all year long to save up to stay here! It is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places to stay and my top pick when visiting the area.
North Block Hotel
Located in Yountville, this is a modern boutique hotel walking distance to some of the best restaurants in the area like Ad Hoc, Bottega, Bouchon Bakery, The French Laundry, and more.
Where to Eat
I always have a craving for delicious coffee and pastries, especially on vacation. Located in the heart of Yountville, this is the spot to satiate those morning croissant cravings in style.
Farm at Carneros
This is one of those restaurants that doesn’t even have to be delicious given the location, but it’s one of our favorite spots for dinner. Located at Carneros, the Farm has a delicious seasonal menu and sitting on the patio offers some of the best views of the property.
Clif Family Winery Bruschetteria Food Truck
You may not think to dine at a Food Truck in the middle of Wine Country, but that’s exactly why you should stop at Clif. The farm to truck approach offers some amazing bites using the freshest ingredients possible from the Clif farm and trusted local purveyors. Located right outside the Clif Family Tasting Room, it’s a fun experience to order from the food truck to complement your wine tasting.
We prefer Ad Hoc which is Thomas Keller’s more casual restaurant. The family style menu changes daily, plus the small, accessible wine list and classic cocktail menu make this a locals’ favorite. We love the no-fuss approach to the menu and wines.
Come for the pasta, eat all the pasta and bread! You can’t go wrong with any of the menu selections and definitely trust the wait staff to make a wine pairing recommendation for your meal. Although the interior is romantic, patio seating is where it’s at!
Where to Taste
Located in Healdsburg, it’s a bit of a drive but well worth it. For starters, it’s a scenic drive through the rolling hills and once you arrive at Dutcher Crossing, you’ll want to stay for hours (which we did). We enjoyed a tasting on their picnic benches and enjoyed some of the best views of the vineyards. We also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Debra, the proprietor (she opened Dutcher when she was 35 – I’m suddenly feeling unaccomplished). We loved their Chardonnay and Zinfadel so much, we ordered plenty of it to bring home. As I mentioned in my Instagram stories, this is not the “Zin” you enjoyed in your early 20s; it’s the real deal and one of my favorite wines I had on our trip.
Scribe is another one of those spots that’s worth the hype. The lunch and wine pairing is divine (light on lunch, heavy on wine) and the historic Hacienda is a perfect spot to explore and laze away an afternoon. We joined the Scribe Viticultural Society and our first delivery arrived yesterday.
This winery was on Alan’s list of spots to visit because it’s designed world renowned architect Michael Graves. It’s really quite breathtaking and definitely worth a visit and the wines are great too. Our favorites were the Rosé and Chardonnay and had several bottles shipped home.
Clif Family Winery
We had such a lovely food and wine tasting at Clif. Our server Troy made us feel like family and he knew exactly what to pour for us after learning more about what we like. We loved the more casual vibe compared to all of the other tasting rooms. We also loved the offering from Clif Family Kitchen, which includes olive oil, nuts, chocolates, and preserves. We joined their wine club and are super excited to get both wine and food deliveries.
Where to Shop
Oxbow Public Market
Oxbow is such a fun market to explore, shop and unwind. There’s a great mix of locally sourced food, and unique concept shops which have great trinkets, books, and decor. Stop by Napastak for delectables sourced from Napa Valley and from far-away, exotic lands and Hog Island Oyster for oysters!
General Store at Long Meadow Ranch
Visit the Long Meadow Ranch general store at Farmstead (located across the street from Clif Family Winery) to taste or take home their award-winning wines, olive oils, and artisanal provisions.