With more than 425 wineries, miles of rugged Pacific coastline, towering redwood forests, and its close proximity to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sonoma County is a traveler’s dream vacation spot in California.
Here’s a quick list of what’s new in Sonoma County wineries, restaurants, and communities, including a brand new American Viticultural Area.
Petaluma Gap added to official Sonoma County wine regions
Fans of Sonoma County wines now have a new wine region to explore — the Petaluma Gap American Viticultural Area (AVA), which recently became Sonoma County’s 18th official wine appellation.
A formal application to recognize the new AVA was filed in 2015, and the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau gave its stamp of approval on Dec. 7, 2017. This means wineries that use grapes from the area can put a “Petaluma Gap” designation on their labels, letting buyers know exactly where the wine came from.
The Petaluma Gap covers a 200,000-acre region in southern Sonoma County and northern Marin County, which includes 4,000 acres of vineyards planted mainly (75 percent) with Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay and Syrah. The area is noted for the afternoon wind and fog that comes from Bodega Bay on the coast and passes through the hilly areas and into San Pablo Bay, cooling the vineyards and allowing the fruit a longer hang time to give more flavor.
Cotati City Council OKs land deal for new Hard Rock Hotel
City property currently used as a Caltrans park-and-ride lot in Cotati, in central Sonoma County, will be developed as a 152-room Reverb hotel, a new brand of the Hark Rock Café International hotel and restaurant chain.
In early December 2017, the Cotati City Council approved a nearly $2.4 million price tag for a development agreement with Cotati Hotel LLC, a Sonoma County company that will be among the first to sign a franchise agreement for a Reverb hotel.
The Reverb hotel brand is promoted as “a new contemporary hotel brand for movers, shakers, and creators.” Initial plans call for a pool and rec area, a garden area for wedding ceremonies, a coffee bar, a lounge for serving wine and beer, a stage for local performances, a fitness center, and about 3,000 square feet of adaptable meeting space.
The development agreement is the first step in a process that requires environmental reviews and permit approvals. The developer hopes to open the hotel in late 2019, but the city estimates it will open by June 2021. The city will use the money from the sale to create additional commuter parking at two other locations.W
Sonoma County wineries adding defibrillators
Members of the Sonoma County Vintners association can have a free automated external defibrillator (AED) and trained staff on hand in case of an emergency thanks to funding provided by Ron Rubin of Ron Rubin Winery and a partnership with the American Red Cross and Zoll Medical Corporation.
In a case of sudden cardiac arrest, when someone’s heart suddenly stops beating, having an AED immediately available improves survival rates. More than 30 Sonoma County wineries have already signed up for the brand new “Trained for Saving Lives” program, which includes a Zoll AED Plus and Red Cross training for winery staff.
“We so appreciate Ron Rubin for funding this incredible program that will help save lives by providing an AED to each of our member wineries,” said Jean Arnold Sessions, executive director for the Sonoma County Vintners. “We encourage our vintner members to consider participating in this offer that can help save lives.”
Alysian Opens Healdsburg Tasting Room
Alysian Wines is now pouring by appointment only at their new tasting room in Healdsburg, in northern Sonoma County.
Founded in 2001, Alysian sources its grapes from both veteran growers and off-the-beaten-path vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties, and as far north as Oregon’s Williamette Valley. They also use grapes from their own vineyards, where they’ve been growing in Sonoma County for three generations. Alysian also makes Alysian Vermouth and Floodgate Wine Company.
Farmhouse Inn adds private meeting retreat
Meet with your team in The Grange, the new boardroom at the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, a 25-room boutique hotel and Michelin-star restaurant in the Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County.
Located in a stylish contemporary barn expertly fitted with all the high-tech essentials, The Grange offers vaulted 12-foot ceilings, an indoor/outdoor fireplace, a large marble bathroom, and a spacious private patio for breaks or break-outs.
The 650-square-foot room holds 12 to 16 people for board meetings, and up to 20 for receptions. It features a wooden table with upright chairs, a 42-inch wall-mounted TV for presentations, and access to the Farmhouse Inn’s acclaimed cuisine.
RESTAURANTS & EATERIES
Salt & Stone restaurant debuts in Kenwood
Gather with the locals at Salt & Stone, the new casual-chic California eatery and oyster bar in Kenwood, a notable Wine Country community at the northern edge of the Sonoma Valley, in eastern Sonoma County.
Proprietors Diane and David LaMonica, who owned Mendocino County’s critically-acclaimed Café Beaujolais for 10 years, remodeled and revamped the former KenWood restaurant to create a warm and cozy atmosphere for this new community gathering spot.
The menu offers rustic California Mediterranean cuisine, starting with oyster bar selections like Steamed Clams, Crispy Curry Calamari, Dungeness Crab Cake, and Marinated Grilled Octopus. Appetizers include Duck Leg Confit, Steak Tartare, and Winter Squash Ravioli. Entrées include Butter Poached Petrale Sole, Cioppino, steaks (Ribeye, Filet, and Flat Iron), Braised Short Ribs, and Pan Roasted Pork Chop.
Cotati welcomes Himalayan Vegan Organic eatery
Savor authentic and fragrant curries, delicately seasoned soups, and other delicious tastes of Nepal, India, and more at the new Himalayan Vegan Organic restaurant in Cotati, in central Sonoma County.
Order your entrée with a specific level of spiciness, from mild to extra spicy. As much as possible, all dishes are organic, gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO, with ingredients sourced from local organic and sustainable farms.
A native of Nepal, chef and owner Rabin Lama has been working in the Nepali/Indian culinary industries for more than 21 years. He previously owned the Himalayan restaurants in Sonoma County. This new venture is family-owned and -operated, with Lama working with his son Rupak and other family members to share their culture and culinary skills.
Kick back, relax at Red Brick in Petaluma
Enjoy superior bar food with outstanding beer, wine, and cocktails at the new Red Brick in Petaluma, in southern Sonoma County.
The menu utilizes local, seasonal produce, and dining is available both indoors and on the outdoor patio. Happy Hour provides discounts on small plates, beer, wine, and well drinks, Monday to Friday, from 3:30 to 6 p.m., and live music is offered weekly.
Samples from the small bites menu includes crispy chicken wings, a local cheese plate, caramelized Brussel sprouts, crispy calamari, and prime rib sliders. Examples from the big bites include shepherd’s pie, stuffed brick chicken breast, grass-fed New York strip steak, and fish and chips. There’s also a selection of salads and sandwiches, as well as burgers and soup.