Top 10 Places To See In California Wine Country
California Wine Country, despite the incessant tourist convoys, is a breath of fresh air from the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. To amplify your time in Sonoma and Napa, pore over a handy list of essential experiences, from the best boutique wine producers to the best farmers markets and restaurants.
Without further ado then, discover our list of 10 places to see (and smell, touch and taste) in California Wine Country. And if you do plan to stay in San Francisco – a very wise move – before or after, consult our San Francisco City Guide.
Dutch Henry Winery
4310 Silverado Trail, Calistoga
Dutch Henry is a real family winery, on the scenic and historic Silverado Trail no less. Humble and bucolic, the Calistoga producer of quality Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfadel (to name a few) is a treasure for oenophiles and has gorgeous picnic areas to boot.
Vincent Arroyo Winery
2361 Greenwood Avenue, Calistoga
Another Calistoga standout, Vincent Arroyo produces just 8,000 cases from estate vineyards. Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese and some of the best Petite Sirah (Durif) in California.
8757 Green Valley Road, Sebastopol
Smack dab in tony Russian River Valley, Dutton Estate cultivates remarkable Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. A low-impact, farm-like producer with family owners from the area.
3104 Redwood Road, Napa
Boutique family producers provide the most honest, tactile tours in California Wine Country and Hendry is no exception. Run by the same family on the same vineyard for over seven decades, the on-site winemakers have enough cumulative harvests in tow to know what terroir quality tastes like.
Long Meadow Ranch
738 Main Street, Saint Helena
For wine, grass-fed beef, heirloom vegetables and fruits and luscious olive oils, a trek to sustainable, organic Long Meadow Ranch is a must.
Where to stay: The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
Marin Farmers Market
Civic Center Drive, San Rafael
Arguably the best farmers market in California and held in Frank Lloyd Wright’s last commission – the Marin County Civic Center. Massive bonus for architecture fans.
Napa Farmers Market
1275 McKinstry Street, Oxbow District
The Napa Farmers Market is well worth a forage and plunder as well, with countless pro-locavore items for hungry winery tourists.
Where to stay: Macarthur Place Inn & Spa Sonoma Valley
29 North Street, Healdsburg
With two Michelin stars and a spot in Gourmet‘s Top 50 restaurants in America, diners need to reserve a table well in advance to sample the elegant 8 course (veg or omnivore) prix fixe menu at Cyrus.
Meadowood, The Restaurant
900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena
A luxury spa resort par excellence, Meadowood also serves up one of the most extraordinary restaurant encounters in California Wine Country.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville
The best restaurant in Sonoma and Napa and, indeed, perhaps even the world (with deference to Noma, The Fat Duck, Arzak and wherever Ferran AdriÃ is at the helm) is The French Laundry however. Chef Thomas Keller is a mindful artist and his team is ever-on point. Save your dollars for the culinary symphony of a lifetime and pay a visit to Keller’s other Napa outlets in Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and ad hoc.
Where to stay: Bardessono Hotel Napa Valley
Don’t have the budget to develop a daily lunch and dinner Michelin star habit? Don’t worry. Sonoma and Napa have a lot of casual hole-in-the-wall dives and diners with superior casual food and wine lists to boot. Be sure to look up the Schellville Grill, Sunflower CaffÃ© Espresso & Wine Bar and the insanely awesome Gott’s Roadside.