HIPSTER SONOMA

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Scribe winery founded by 2 young brothers is making Sonoma hip. Appointment only tasting under the trees, 20 ft swings, outdoor dinners with some of the best SF chefs, prohibition era hacienda to become the new tasting room, and just pure hipness.

 

WINE COUNTRY COOKING: RAMEKINS CULINARY SCHOOL

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Ramekins Culinary is a great spot located in downtown Sonoma with a wide variety of activities including a cooking school, but it is also a B&B. It has a beautiful terrace for meals outside.

 

INNOVATIVE GARDENS IN SONOMA IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

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Cornerstone Sonoma is a collection of shops, galleries, and gardens that offers an unusual experience in the Sonoma wine country. The series of walk-through gardens showcase the work of some of the world’s best landscape architects and designers. Each space is different and evokes a unique feeling or experience, but all contribute to the sense of creativity of Cornerstone Gardens.

You can easily spend a couple of hours here, first walking through each of the garden installations and then checking out the unique shops and tasting wine. There is an outdoor sculpture garden as well. Cornerstone Sonoma is open daily 10:00-5:00, but the gardens close at 4:00. Admission and parking are free. It is located just a few minutes south of Sonoma and about 15 minutes west of Napa Valley.

 

BLEND YOUR OWN WINE

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You can spend days and days drinking wine in Northern California’s wine country. But why not try your own hand at blending some of the region’s liquid gold? It is a fun way to learn about the properties of wine and your own personal preferences on blends. Ravenswood Winery is a really great spot in Sonoma with a laid back staff that loves nothing better than sharing their stories, their history and their knowledge. It is a great group activity as well and at the end of the day, you get to take home your own custom bottle of your very own creation.

 

GOAT ROCK BEACH, SONOMA COAST, CALIFORNIA

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Picture this. You’re with your friends. You’ve gone hiking in the glorious Armstrong Redwoods. Then, you’ve gone to Sonoma Coast State Beach to watch the sun melt into the horizon for the last time that year. Then you go and eat delicious Indian food in Jenner, overlooking the Sonoma Coast.

That’s not a bad day, is it?

This is a long exposure photo. It was fun to take. My friend and his son had to stand still for ten seconds while taking this photo. Fun, eh? We goofed around with the camera quite a bit and watched the gorgeous sun sinking.

Beautiful.

 

THE FIG CAFE

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I came across the fig cafe accidentally. Drove through beautiful Glen Ellen and stopped there for brunch. And I’m so happy that i did!

The fig cafe has all the right ingredients! beautiful location, warm welcoming ambiance and fantastic food.

I had the brunch Pizza and we shared the spicey French toast for dessert – heaven! their coffee is also descent.

The fig cafe has a sister restaurant, the girl and the fig, which i heard is just as great.

 

TACO CONES AND UNUSUAL MEZCAL COCKTAILS IN HEALDSBURG

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After a day spent floating down the Russian River, happy hour at Mateo’s hit the spot. We grabbed seats at the colorful bar and ordered tacones stuffed with olive oil guacamole and black bean puree with homemade chorizo. I paired the food with a Paloma Hermosa cocktail (Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, fresh lime and grapefruit juices, agave nectar, and Del Maguey Vida Mezcal). The dinner menu is also intriguing.

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OVERLOOKING LAKE SONOMA IN SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

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What I love about Sonoma County, California is its dramatic contrasts. That one moment you’re sipping on wine in a cozy tasting room on the square in Healdsburg Plaza and the next you’re hiking around Lake Sonoma with views like this. The overlook on the south end of the lake provides sweeping views across Lake Sonoma to the north and the Dry Creek Valley to the south. There are a couple different trailheads at the overlook that consist of easy trails that wind around this side of the lake.

 

WINNING WINE TASTING

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There are numerous wonderful wine tasting locations in Healdsburg. It is both possible and enjoyable to spend an afternoon walking around the square meandering from tasting to tasting. A small gem of a tasting room just a block off the square is Portalupi Wines. I have been a few times and always feel welcomed in the relaxed tasting room, where the taste of the wines speak for them self always confirming their greatness. One of the few tasting rooms where I leave buying a bottle and am happy to point my friends in the direction of Portalupi.

 

HIKING COASTAL HILLS WITH VISTAS OF THE SEA

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Pomo Canyon Hike goes through redwoods, over wind swept coastal hills. and lands you at ocean waves. The beauty and challenge of this hike is that you must hike up to be rewarded with gorgeous views. The most challenging part is near the start as the hills incline ever upward. Once nearing the meadows topping these beautiful coastal hills the incline slows and the views increase. The Russian River, the town of Jenner, and the great Pacific Ocean can be seen. Depending on the challenge and length of Hike you want there are three options available: 1. You can hike to the top enjoy the views and return down as you came, 2. You can hike up and over to Shell beach where you have parked a second car to end your hike, 3. You can make a loop from Pomo Canyon to Shell Beach and back again–possibly taking the Red Hill path on the way back. To reach Pomo Canyon Trail drive 2.5 miles up Willow Creek Road, if the Campsites are open you may park closer to the trail head, if they are closed you must park outside of the gate and walk into the camping area where the trail starts. Willow Creek Road is a small bumpy road off of Hwy 1 on the South side of the Bridge that crosses the Russian River near where Hwy 116 meets Hwy 1. This is defiantly a good challenging hike so be prepared with your hiking shoes, water, a few trail snacks, and be prepared for a shift in sun and wind. I love this trail! I always feel accomplished at having hiked it and blessed to live so close to it’s natural beauty

 

A WALK FOR EVERY SEASON

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Ragle Ranch is used well be locals as a family friendly park with soccer fields, baseball fields, sand volley ball, tennis courts, playgrounds, and picnic areas. In addition to all this there are local trails. The hikes are neither to long nor difficult but they are a wonderful collection of little rustic trails to enjoy the local seasons. With oak trees, black berries, wild flowers, and a winding creek these trails are wonderful for a little 30 minute walk with nature or as an exploration outing with kids–my 7 year old cousin loves these trails. Beware of muddy trails in the winter and plan for the appropriate shoes.

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SONOMA COUNTY’S SANTA ROSA AT SUNSET FROM HOOD MOUNTAIN

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It’s no Mt. Hood in Oregon, yet Sonoma’s Hood Mountain is one of the area’s best hikable mountains because of its views like this across Santa Rosa. The best view being a few miles into the park at Gunsight Rock, which on a clear day, visitors may be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Wildlife I saw on this particular day included a couple different instances of seeing deer just a few yards from me.

 

A GOLDEN PICNIC IN SONOMA

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Sonoma and Napa counties have hundreds of wineries that have tasting rooms set among the golden hills of the area. It’s rare to find a winery where you can enjoy this scenery as much as the wine served in the tasting room. At Chateau St. Jean, they have a large picnic area on their grounds that overlook expansive vineyards. My friends and I bought food and wine at the large tasting room/store and settled in for hours while the sun turned the hills and our faces golden.

 

SONOMA SUNSET

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Last year Copain Winery in Sonoma started hosting guest chef dinners at its tasting room as part of a Supper Club Series. Copain’s winemaker, Wells Guthrie, reaches out to some of his favorite chefs and sommeliers, like Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson of Frasca in Boulder, CO, and invites them to prepare a dinner paired with Copain wines. The dinners start with sunset wine and appetizers served al fresco overlooking the vineyards at sunset.

One of the highlights is getting to hang out with Wells. He gave us some great insider wine country tips, and shared some of his favorite Healdsburg wine bars, including Bergamot Alley).

 

THE BOAT SHACK AT NICK’S COVE

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Since I’m still relatively new to San Francisco, I’m still discovering all of the amazing places just outside of the city. Every weekend I try to hop in a car and explore. My latest discovery is Nick’s Cove, a restaurant and cottages located in a historic 1930s fishing settlement in the town of Marshall, California. Driving along State Route One, Nick’s is marked by its signature red pick up truck and a large wooden boat. What used to be an old herring curing plant is now an amazing restaurant that serves not-to-be-missed barbecued oysters that are plucked just feet away in Tomales Bay. If you’re open to sharing a table and making new friends, ask to eat or have a drink out in the boat shack at the end of the Christmas light-lit pier. The tiny wooden hut is super casual and has one large table, an old piano, and great views. Look closely and you can still see the initials finger-painted in dust on the windows by past visitors.

We shared drinks with two Brits in the wine importing business and a darling local couple who were having date night because their kids were out of town. Due to a funny rule, servers can’t bring food out to the shack, but you can phone in your order and they provide a tray so you can carry it down the pier. In addition to the oysters, don’t miss the goat meatballs from Rossotti Ranch (and pair them with a red Burgundy). Order S’mores for dessert and you can roast the marshmallows in the shack’s wood-burning fireplace.

 

This feature originally appeared in Afar.

 

 

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