As summer wanes and fall approaches, Sonoma County is gearing up for harvest season. This September, grapes that have been cultivated for the past year in Sonoma’s many vineyards will be sent to winery crush pads to begin to the winemaking process. The county is also seeing a number of new tasting rooms, restaurants, lodgings, attractions, shops and more. Here’s what oenophiles and travelers to Sonoma can look forward to this coming September:
Over in Guerneville, in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, Equality Vines Tasting Room is bringing equal rights and fine wine together. Equality Vines is the first wine portfolio dedicated to humanitarian rights, with 20 percent of wine sales going to a score of equal rights organizations supported by the establishment. Here, each wine comes with a story, like the 2014 The Decision Pinot Noir celebrating the Supreme Court decision on Marriage equality, or the 2016 19th Amendment Sauvignon Blanc (every sale of which gives $2 the League of Women’s Voters).
At the new Friedeman Wines in The Barlow, a 12.5-acre outdoor market district in Sebastopol, guests can taste award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The family-owned, boutique winery produces more than 1,800 cases of wine each year, focusing on small-scale, cool fermentations with as little intervention as possible, aiming for the most unique wines.
Jeff Cohn Cellars, a winery which produces 5,000 cases annually, recently opened a tasting room just off of the historic Sonoma Plaza in the town of Sonoma. More than 85 percent of their grapes come right from Sonoma County, giving guests a taste of true California wines. The Sonoma tasting room is open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wine lovers need no longer travel all the way to Hirsch Winery & Vineyard’s remote corner of Sonoma County to sample its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, as the Hirsch Tasting Room is opening in Healdsburg this September. Located just off Highway 101, the Hirsch Tasting Room provides tastings only by appointment and up to only eight guests at a time. To accompany the tasting, Andante Dairy provides a personally curated selection of cheeses.
The all-new tasting room at Fathia Vineyards is breathing new life into the small wine country town of Kenwood. Their new tasting room is rustic and cozy, designed for unhurried and intimate conversations. Guests can experience the Premium Tasting of current release wines alongside the winemaker, or the Truffles and Wine Pairing, where a variety of FEVE chocolate truffles accompany the four presented wines.
Falcor Wines has branched out from its 12,000-square-foot southern Napa Valley location with a new Sonoma County tasting salon. Tucked into Vine Alley just off of Sonoma Plaza, the new Falcor Tasting Salon offers a more fun and friendly tasting atmosphere.
Breweries, Brew Pubs & Bars
For this September, the relaxed vibe of Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg has been transplanted to a second location in Rohnert Park, in central Sonoma County; the selection of Bear Republic ales and lagers on tap and pub fare has not changed, however. The new Rohnert Park location includes a new 10-barrel brewing system and a 500-gallon still that will allow the brand to eventually produce rum and whisky under the Bear Republic label as well. The large kitchen includes a wood-fired pizza oven, a large outdoor dining area, a performance stage and a selection of adult and children’s games.
This September, Beer Baron is opening its third location in Santa Rosa, where guests can continue to enjoy food and live music. The Santa Rosa menu includes bar snacks like chicken tacos or duck-fat fries, small plates like green curry Thai wings and main plates from burgers to seared salmon. The food is complimented by the 25 beers on tap, and more than 400 listings in the Whiskey Bible, of course.
Beer Baron also hosts a Whiskey Club that hosts events, giving members a chance to purchase barrel select bottles and try exclusive bottles only available to those in the club.
Brewsters Beer Garden over in Petaluma is doing its civic duty for the Sonoma nightlife with its late night weekend menu; from 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday or Saturday, hungry guests can take advantage of the new late-night menu’s offerings such as sausage poutine, smoked wings and fried chicken sandwich. The new menu also comes with fun cocktail specials like a fire whiskey shot, strawberry margarita and more. Brewsters provides an outdoor dining and biergarten experience with more than 350 seats, paired with South Carolina barbecue-inspired fare.
Restaurants & Eateries
Healdsburg’s newest neighborhood restaurant is Kitchen 335, where local, farm-to-table ingredients create healthy comfort food. A sample menu includes appetizers like the Mushroom Tart, entrees like Wagyu New York Strip and for dessert—vanilla bean crème brulee.
Though Hip Chick Farms is known for its transparently sourced, artisan frozen chicken and poultry products, their new The Kitchen restaurant makes a nice addition to Sebastopol with their fresh, sustainable and gourmet chicken offerings. Dubbed a “chicken nugget tasting room and lunch counter,” guests can sample a number of sustainable chicken menu items—especially the chicken fingers, where no dipping sauce is needed because it’s already in the nuggets. The Kitchen restaurant menu also includes sandwiches like fried buttermilk chicken with caramelized onions or a chicken meatball sub.
Also in Healdsburg, the new Journeyman Meat Co. storefront offers a curated butcher counter including handcrafted salumi, sausages and seasonal fare paired with local wines. There is also a limited menu from the wood-fired oven.
Sonoma Plaza continues to expand its culinary provisions with a new location from the popular Hare & Hatter Coffee Bar and Sausauge Emporium. The new location in the El Paseo courtyard off Sonoma Plaza is an upgrade for Hare & Hatter, which originally served from a stand inside a local hardware shop. Hare & Hatter was voted the best Gourmet Hotdogs in Sonoma in 2015 and 2016; at their new location, locally sourced artisan sausages are served in handcrafted breads and accompanied by an array of fresh and worldly ingredients. There is also fresh coffee and local beers and wine. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and happy hour.
In downtown Santa Rosa, Acre Coffee has opened its fifth location, providing skillfully prepared, dark-roast coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches every day to Sonoma County.
Along the northern Sonoma County coastline, the new Terra Glamping sets up campers in one of their 10 comfortable, luxury safari-style tents, each with a full ocean view. Each 12-by-14-foot tent includes a porch fore whale watching or stargazing, a queen-size memory foam mattress, down bedding and fine furniture—not to mention hot showers and flushing toilets. Each morning begins with a continental breakfast and each day ends with a nighttime campfire and s’mores. This is also a chance for a digital detox, as there is no Wi-Fi. Terra Glamping is located along a remote stretch of Highway 1 near the small town of Annapolis.
Alongside Chef Todd Kniess, owner of Bistro Liaison in Berkeley and personal conductor of each tour, guests can visit some of the area’s top wine and food producers on a private and exclusive tour on the back roads of Sonoma County. In between sampling fine wines, Chef Todd will prepare a multi-course lunch. Each itinerary is unique, and the tours can be accessed from Sebastopol.
Gourmet Food and Wine Tours has added to its available itineraries this September; besides its wine-and-food-pairing walking tours of Sonoma town, guests can now go on Drew’s Brew Tours, Sonoma’s first walking tour with dedicated beer stops. The tour is led by Drew ReBell, and will visit four different pubs and restaurants in Sonoma Plaza to taste a minimum of five craft beers, paired with pub fare.
Adventurers can join U.S. Army Corps Park Ranger Poppy Lozoff on horseback this September, on the new “Interpretive Ride with a Ranger,” at The Ranch at Lake Sonoma in Geyserville. On the ride, Lozoff will point out Lake Sonoma’s flora and fauna and explain the history of Sonoma County’s largest park (17,000 acres). Ride with Ranger is available by advance appointment only, Monday to Friday, with a limit of five riders per tour at $119 per person. No riding experience is necessary.
This September, Sonoma County is welcoming its first iteration of the trending Escape Room games over in Rohnert Park. At Game The Room, guests pick an escape room and then have 60 minutes to solve puzzles, open locks and complete an immersive, themed adventure.
Barlow Supply Co. in Sebastopol has everything a Sonoma-goer might need for entertaining with a distinctly California style. Every product has a story and are made by local artisans.
Those who might need a break from wine-related celebrations can be pampered with natural ingredient path products at Cetonia Bath & Body in the small town of Duncan Mills. At Cetonia, guests can purchased handmade soaps and bath fizzies, scented body oils, whipped body butters, bath salts, natural lip balms and beard oils (for him).
The all new Clover Artisans store is coming to the award-winning Foundry Wharf development in Petaluma. At Clover Artisans, guests can browse and purchase products sourced by founder Samantha Petrie herself with the goal of connecting customers to global culture through designs.
Over in Guerneville, Pamper Me Bath, Body & Boutique provides a wide selection of locally made, eco- and people-friendly products that aim to nourish the body and soul. The family-run business strives to ensure its products have minimal impact on natural resources and the planet. The accompanying boutique carries fine jewelry, chocolate delicacies, clothing and accessories, candles, towels, picnic foods and other products as well.
The boutique specialty bookstore and pop culture shop in Bodega Bay has something for everyone, such as New York Times bestsellers, classic and current graphic novels, unique card and board games, coloring books, art supplies, action figures, comic books, patches and gifts for all ages.
Beauty practitioner Barbara Bailey recently relocated to downtown Cotati in central Sonoma, where she is now providing facials, massages, hands-on treatments, Reiki healing, LED light therapy, ultrasound, pulsed electro-magnetic field, micro current, and Ayruvedic rejuvenation spa therapies. A number of skin care and spa packages that embrace her Eastern philosophy of happiness and harmony are also available in the office.
The Broadway entrance to the town of Sonoma now has two new stores in the Sonoma Roadside shops: Fat Pilgrim and Harvest Home. Fat Pilgrim is contemporary general store that recently opened after a remodeling, and Harvest Home is a furniture and accessory store recently relocated from its Sonoma Plaza site.