Staying in Glen Allen for a few nights and would love some recommendations for restaurants and wineries in Sonoma and beyond if they're worth the trek.
Ravenous in Healdsburg was great last time I was there! In fact, most things in downtown Healdsburg are wonderful! In Graton, Underwood and Willow Wood are solid. My favorite Sonoma vineyards are: Stuhlmuller (amazing! Cab), Iron Horse, Merry Edwards (fab Sauv Blanc and Pinot), Mounts (small, friendly, the family is always there), and Seghesio.
I love Sonoma, more so than Napa. Have a great time!
You asked about Sonoma, but I'll put in a vote for Glen Ellen Star. Small and casual, anything from the wood oven (vegetables, pizza) I've found to be delicious. It's a small menu but is worth checking out since you'll be right there.
I agree with Emily about loving Sonoma moreso than Napa... We love Zin in Healdsburg, but there are a lot of lovely restaurants to choose from. I think Iron Horse (Sebastopol) makes the best sparkling in US, and their still wines are not shabby,either. Beautiful place to visit, but reserve ahead. Up the hill from them is Redwood Hill goat Farm, who make some amazing cheeses that (not surprisingly) pair really well with Iron Horse wines. There's an olive oil cooperative that has a tasting room in Glen Ellen. Don't have the addy with me, but think it's not 'hidden." My favorite Sonoma wineries besides Iron Horse are Vision Cellars, Sonoma-Cutrer (for chard) and Ridge Lytton Springs. St. Francis puts on a great show.
Yes indeed re: Sonoma-Cutrer for Chard!!!
If you want to combine the food and wine experience into one, there are a few wineries worth checking out. Ram's Gate (http://www.ramsgatewinery.com) and Lambert Bridge (http://www.lambertbridge.com) are both really nice spots. Ram's Gate is in Sonoma, and has seriously awesome architecture, great views, and a relaxing place to post up with a bottle and some food. Lambert Bridge is classy but unpretentious, and offers small production wines with the option to pair them with what looks like an amazing menu..
A few more thoughts. If you are in Sonoma and want to check out a few good places to eat, The Girl and the Fig is a great spot. Also, the Dry Creek General Store is a must-visit spot in Healdsburg.
It is a long drive from Lambert Bridge to Ram's Gate. Ram's Gate is about 5 miles from the town of Sonoma and is pretty spectacular. Howard Backen is the architect and he has designed many wineries including Harlen, McMurray Ranch(Gallo) , Paul Hobbs Winery (near Sebastopol). The Dry Creek General Store which is west of Healdsburg used to be the local gathering place, but now Gallo owns it. The drive distance from the town of Sonoma to Healdsburg is about 40 miles.(mostly two lane roads)
What fun! I also love Merry Edwards. I have also enjoyed Gary Farrell, Littorai, Robledo, Siduri-Novy, Papapietro, and many more I can't think of now. I had a great meal at Girl and the Fig and the dining room at the hotel across the street is good as well (El Dorado?). And I would not miss a lunch at the picnic tables of the Dry Creek General Store. Have a great time, jealous!
OMG on Gary Farrell- yes!!!
Thank you all so much for your super recommendations. We are going away for a few days sans our toddler-so I'm sure wherever we end up drinking, will be new and exotic for us! ; ) I'll report back about where we ended up.
NB, do yourself a favor and reserve at the spots you want to taste. That way they're expecting you, and you get an entirely different reception than a walk-in. Don't try to do more than 3 tastings a day. You may think you can, but "the voice of experience" is speaking to you... ;)
Chef June, so you're suggesting we make reservations everywhere (even the places that don't necessarily require it?) We'll be lucky if we get through 3, after 2 yrs with a baby, we're back to being lightweights. HA!
The French Laundry is a once in a lifetime splurge that you may want to indulge in. I really like Mustards Grill for a nice lunch or dinner. Also if you want to have a picnic, I suggest going to the Oakville Grocery for lunch fixings. Gotts Roadside has the most amazing hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. Della Santinas is a small family owned Italian restaurant and they have great homemade pastas and the best tiramisu I've eaten. Have a great trip!
Great suggestions but NB is going to Sonoma, not napa...
I would recommend sticking close to the Sonoma Valley which starts in the Carneros and ends just before Santa Rosa. Fremont's which is in the Carneros just SE of the town of Sonoma is great. Girl and the Fig is a must. There are a few sweet little cafes in Glen Ellen. Be sure to visit Jack London State Park when in Glen Ellen and if you are in the area on June 2, MFK Fisher's "Last House" will be open at the Bouverie for a fundraiser.(Les Dames d'Escoffier) Gundlach-Bundchu is one of the oldest wineries and are fun people. Buena Vista and Barthelomew Park are also in that area and a easy bike ride if you want to ride around and maybe picnic in a beautiful setting.(flat terrain too!) You will find that the tasting rooms of the Sonoma Valley are much lower key that those in Napa. If you do decide to visit Napa it's just 20 minutes away.
The town of Sonoma is charming, and there is a lot to do there. I suggested the northern part because I like the wines there better! I think we can agree one could easily spend a year enjoying the food, wine and ambiance of Sonoma County!
Truth to tell, Sonoma County is a HUGE place, unlike Napa Valley. If you have specific wineries you want to taste at, be sure to consider how far apart (mileage) they are from each other. Dymnyno recommended the south end of the County. I would recommend the North... However, Glen Ellen is kind of in the middle, so you could do some of each without driving too, too far.
I recommended the Sonoma Valley which includes Glen Ellen, Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente and the town of Sonoma because it is the oldest of the wine growing area of Sonoma County and the family wineries are very proud of the historical nature of their estates. It is a small valley compared to the vast other parts of Sonoma County which were formerly apple, walnut, berry orchards and dairy farms. I am a fifth generation Californian from that area and have seen the changes. The little town of Sonoma and the narrow verdant valley is the way is was generations ago.
Lunch or dinner, I also put five stars on The Girl and the Fig ... just off the town square.Head over to Napa and try Angele. Duck confit is worth the drive.Yountville has great offerings: Bistro Jeanty for sure. Bouchon if you want Thomas Keller food without the over priced Laundry bill. Bottarga is a personal fav just for the pork belly with creamed corn appetizer. Damn it's good ... have two portions and call it dinner.And, there is always the C.I.A. for a shopping spree to buy things you don't need.
we visit napa/Sonoma quite a bit- more napa though. I love to ask the locals what their favorites wineries and restaurants are. have fun!!
If you are staying in Glen Ellen, I would definitely suggest checking out Benziger. They have a nice tour of their biodynamic winery. Do the more expensive tasting to try their top notch Pinot's and Tribute.
I would also recommend Gary Ferrell, Imagery (they have wood-fired pizza), Preston, and J Vineyards.
If you'd like to taste top notch wines in a relaxed setting, I'd check out to Robert Hunter (failry close to Glen Ellen). Bottles are pricey and its by appt. only but all well worth it.