One of my favorite things about life in California wine country is the high level of cuisine to which our local chefs adhere. When a new restaurant opens up, it's often a riveting experience for the palate.
Sonoma County's Russian River Valley is an expansive appellation. The region is comprised of many terroirs, all of which are home to unique vineyard sites that are planted mostly to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. As the region’s notoriety continues to soar, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley have been recognized as world-class wines.
This summer, I’ve been on the hunt for great picnic wineries in Northern California wine country. In my search, I’ve selected some of my favorite picnic experiences to share with you, starting with Benovia Wines in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation.
With farm-fresh ingredients, estate-raised livestock (I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of their Black Pig Bacon), a killer mixology cocktail program and an excellent wine list to boot, there’s no such thing as a quick in-and-out dining experience at Zazu. You’ll want to linger and graze, especially when you’re in the company of good friends.
Many of the vineyards planted in Middle Reach—the most northerly neighborhood of Russian River Valley—are nestled on the banks of the Russian River. This neighborhood is home to the oldest plantings of Pinot Noir in Russian River Valley (RRV), including Rochioli’s famed West Block Vineyard that was planted in 1969.
I’m a total sucker for brunch. Maybe it’s because I lived in San Francisco so long, where the brunch options are endless, or because I currently live in Santa Rosa, where the brunch game is on point… whatever the case, I feel obligated to share with you my top five brunch spots in Santa Rosa.
In the northern reaches of Sonoma County, Geyserville is the second to last town you reach before crossing over the county border into Mendocino territory. What has always been a small, rural town (current population is no more than 2,000 people), the Geyserville community has done a lot to make sure that wine country visitors are attracted to this area.
The neighborhood of Green Valley is unique in that it is also an established sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley (RRV). Green Valley was granted appellation status in 1983 and has been a longtime home to many iconic wineries such Dutton-Goldfield and Iron Horse.
Local powerhouse restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark are at it again, this time with their most recent addition to their restaurant collection, Bird & The Bottle. Nestled in an old house in a relatively quiet neighborhood of Santa Rosa, in just a year's time Bird & The Bottle has become a local favorite.