Long considered Napa Valley’s sleepy cousin, Sonoma is ripe with vineyards and rugged valleys that are now just tame enough to conquer.
Author Sarah Horne
DAY TWO | Pack your bags, albeit reluctantly, and check out. Before you hit the road in your ragtop, stop for coffee and a buttery croissant at Healdsburg’s Flying Goat Coffee 1, where the potent brew is taken ever so seriously.
Begin your leisurely drive down Westside Road, stopping in at the Hop Kiln Winery 2 to see the striking landmark 100-year-old hop kiln building, which now houses the winery’s tasting rooms. Take in the historic photos of the laborers of old, a reminder of when Sonoma was best known for its plum trees. Snag some of Hop Kiln’s zinfandel-infused grainy mustard, and you’re on your way.
Cruise into Graton (not too fast, or you’ll miss it) and settle in for succulent Drakes Bay oysters on the half shell and a side of roasted blue potatoes at Underwood 3, a cool bistro that’s doing its part to transform what was a “rough little apple cannery town” into an urbane yet rustic destination for food and wine aficionados.
Drive north and check into a luxurious barn room at the Farmhouse Inn 4, where sister-and-brother owners Catherine and Joe Bartolomei have created a stylish Russian River Valley idyll. Ask the concierge to set up a visit to the pleasantly rickety American Wine Building 5 in Forestville to check out the work of the vintners behind Arnot-Roberts and Wind Gap wines, two local labels that have earned the seal of approval of the inn’s in-house master sommelier, Geoff Kruth.
After chatting with the winemakers about their modern take on traditional barrelmaking and wine-stomping (and meeting the curious winery dog), head back to the Farmhouse and take a dip in the pool. Then stop by reception and help yourself to the “bath bar,” a complimentary array of salt scrubs and milk baths, and have a soak in the tub. You’ve earned it.
As the sun hangs low in the sky, hit the road for a low-key dinner at Zazu 6, an old-fashioned roadhouse-turned-carnivore’s-delight. Start with a selection of the Black Pig Salumi and move on to a hand-thrown MacBryde Farm fig pizza and a tasting flight of Russian River Valley pinot noir, the region’s celebrity grape.
Head back to the inn and inhale the cool night air, the scent of the fragrant herb garden and the rich, silty river in the distance. It will clear your head. It’s perfect sleeping weather.