Northern California is home to some of the most amazing sights and sounds. Most notably are Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Wine Country has undergone a boom in tourism, which once was a humble 25 Napa wineries in 1975. Fast forward to today and there are well over 400 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
In this article, I’ll uncover the must stop places for millennials.
There has been a lot of craze surrounding cupcakes and cronuts, but it’s time to indulge on a cruffin!
The Silverado Resort and Spa is home to annual golf tournaments, fine dining and spa treatments, but the recent addition of their Market & Bakery has added a new flair. I had the chance to connect with Matthew McElroy, who is the market Manager and hear about future plans. They are clearly committed to locally sourced products as well as several options that are made on premise, which include fresh deli sandwiches and all natural baked goods.
The next stop was at Deerfield Ranch Winery. An absolutely stunning place inside and out as well as being the home of Clean Wine. That name has been trademarked by the winery, which boasts wine with low histamines and sulfites.
At the southern end of Sonoma Valley are two must stops. Especially for people traveling from San Francisco.
The first is Gloria Ferrer, which is home to bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. Additionally, the seemingly endless rows of vineyards will make for a memorable photo op. Be sure to take your time here and enjoy the cheese plate pairing.
Across the street is Cornerstone Sonoma. I must have stopped here a couple dozen times in the past, but never knew how extensive this property is. Here’s a throwback from when the oversized photo op chairs were blue (today they are orange).
There are several wine tasting rooms, food options, endless pieces of art installments and boutique shops. This property is also home to Sunset Magazine.
In nearby Sebastopol, take some time and relax at Bliss Organic Day Spa. They do an incredible job, but the story behind this business is very intriguing. Bliss is a one-of-a-kind woman-owned small business focusing on luxury spa services, gifted individual practitioners and organic skincare products. Annie, the owner, started out as an independent practitioner with a vision, and built her dream from the ground up. They were just named one of the “Top-50 LGBT-Owned” Businesses by the San Francisco Business Times. I could imagine this being a fun place for bachelorette or birthday parties.
After a couple action packed days of food and relaxation, it was time to put a safari hat on and see some exotic animals. Safari West is home to everything that can turn any adult into a giddy kid instantly. Giraffes, zebras, rhinos and many more.
A day trip here is sufficient, but carve out 4-5 hours and take your time. Alternatively, for families looking to fully immerse in the experience, rent one of the luxury tents. Reserve well in advance and request the ones facing giraffes.
The most delightful experience hands down was with Chef Dustin Valette. I remember a previous visit to the restaurant that once previously stood in this location, but couldn’t imagine the transformation into Valette Healdsburg. His attention to detail on every dish is noticeable and elevated flavors that are well balanced.
Here’s the Coriander Crusted Liberty Duck Breast with pickled shallots, marcona almonds along with cherry & duck confit.
For dessert, the memorable bread, butter and jam. Strawberry ‘Jam’ with toasted brioche and salted brown butter ice cream. There were several other memorable dishes, but these stole the show.
Be sure to take a few days and explore beyond the wineries. After all, wine country will always find a way to surprise you. Safe travels.