Sonoma always seems to earn second place behind its older sibling, Napa. But family rivalries aside, Sonoma is coming in to its own, on its own terms. Healdsburg, CA is ground zero for the new California wine movement. Here dwells a group of young, innovative winemakers who are in no way beholden to the status quo.
These new wine renegades are staking their own path by playing with varietals like Gewurtztraminer and Tocai Fruiliano. They’re challenging conventions, and they’re building tasting rooms where (gasp) you would actually want to kick it with your friends.
Check ya later, Chardonnay oak bombs! Below is a non-comprehensive (but nonetheless awesome) set of pointers on how to drink your way through Sonoma.
1) Catching Zzz’s
All the cool AirBnb spots will probably be taken by San Francisco weekenders, but the H2 Hotel planted right in downtown Healdsburg will have you covered. This boutique spot sports 36 eco-centric rooms with private balconies. Not too shabby…
It’s a small property, but packs a serious punch with its spa and hotel bar/restaurant, Spoonbar.
Pro Tip: Advil PM for an easy, hangover free sleep
2) The Caffeine Fix
Where will you start your morning and form a battleplan for your tour de vin? Flying Goat Coffee. If you’re a drip coffee kinda person, or if you want a high-falutin espresso based beverage with a pick me up scone, you’ll find all your heart desires.
Pro Tip: Snag an iced coffee (single origin from Costa Rica) with the pumpkin cinnamon roll.
3) The Wine Fix (Part I)
Founded by two brothers, Andrew and Adam Mariani in 2009, Scribe Winery is a place you must go. Andrew and Adam transformed an abandoned winery from the late 1800s in to one of the beacons of the New California wine wave. You won’t find a flossy and oversized tasting room, but you will find some picnic tables with a view of palm trees and hillsides covered in vines. You will also try some amazing wine and stare directly at the spot where the grapes came from.
Pro Tip: Request Emma Lipp for your tasting sesh.
4) The Wine Fix (Part II)
Situated in downtown Healdsburg, CA, the wine renegades behind Banshee Wines have created a modern and relevant version of the tasting room. The space itself is filled with vintage California style furniture, but the Banshee Tasting Room gives off nothing but vibes of youth, a fresh perspective and awesome wines.
Pro Tip: Ask for the Syrah and prepare to snap into a the Slim Jim of wine.
5) Don’t Forget to Eat!
Just down the street from the Banshee Tasting Room you’ll find Mateo’s Cocina Latina. Hailing from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, Chef Mateo Granados is adding his signature to some seriously authentic Mexican dishes. Each table is adorned by the chef’s own habanero sauce, and the restaurant’s menu is packed with Sonoma county ingredients. Both kill it with Mateo’s version of enchiladas molé.
Pro Tip: Mateo himself is an Mezcal expert. Ask for his infamous Mezcal + Ice Cream after dinner delight.
6) Get Off the Beaten Path
Not everything has to be young, hip, and millennial to be worth a visit in Sonoma. The Dry Creek Road Country Store is the quintessential roadside country store. It got it’s start in 1881 and is no doubt a blast from the past. Yet, the menu of killer sandwiches is anything but stale. These sandos make for the perfect pairing as you hop scotch from winery to winery. The tomato jam on the Sonoma Pulled Pork would be a staple on everything.
Pro Tip: Last chance to load up your Spotify playlist. Wifi and LTE are spotty in the surrounding wine country.
7) Palate cleansing
After your palette is blown to smithereens from alcoholic grape juice, head to SpoonBar. This ridiculous cocktail list is based on the farm to bar concept and features local spirits, organic herbs, and vegetables sourced right from the neighborhood. The menu changes based on the time of year. Head cocktail magician, Tara Heffernon, takes great care to orchestrate cocktails to match each climate, thank goodness for that.
Pro Tip: The house version of the Manhattan is for real.