After closing out yet another challenging pandemic year, it’s heartening to see so many new and exciting business openings in Sonoma County, even as we acknowledge that some wonderful businesses have closed or were not able to make it due to COVID-19.Yet, while the business landscape may be changing, the spirit of entrepreneurship and a love for ‘la dolce vita’ is still alive in Sonoma Wine Country. For those seeking inspiration to make the journey to Sonoma in 2022, here are the top new places to eat, drink, and stay in Sonoma County this year.
After years in the making and close to a year of anticipation from Healdsburg locals, The Matheson finally opened its doors in September 2021. Housed in a renovated 100+-year-old historic building, this three tier restaurant, sushi kitchen, wine lounge, and rooftop cocktail lounge and open-air restaurant pays homage to the Sonoma County region while at the same time incorporating stunning modern design. Chef/Owner Dustin Vallette hopes that the spaces created at The Matheson will allow guests to ‘immerse themselves in Sonoma, its craftspeople and its lifestyle, all in an afternoon.’
Adorned with murals painted by local Sonoma County artists, The Matheson’s downstairs bar and restaurant feature a wine wall with over 85 wines by the glass and a large open plan kitchen and sushi/sashimi bar. The menu offers ever changing dishes that feature seasonal fare highlighting California’s micro-seasons, while the sushi and sashimi bar feature creations curated by master sushi chef Ken Tominaga and chef Daisuke Soma. On the second floor sit a number of gorgeous spaces that can be booked by large parties or for private events (dinners hosted by local winemakers may be on The Matheson’s future calendar). Up on the roof, the bar serves up innovative cocktails combining unique spirits, seasonal fruits, flowers, and herbs alongside a menu of small plates and wood fired pizzas in a casual, open-air environment. The outdoor patio features fire pits and a perch overlooking the Healdsburg Plaza, while at the more casual rooftop bar, Roof 106, seating is first come first served (no reservations are accepted).
In Sonoma (or more specifically, Boyes Hot Springs), Il Fuoco opened up in the former Cochon Volant space off of the Sonoma Highway, after months of work turning the former barbecue spot into a wood fire pizza-focused Italian restaurant. Il Fuoco is local chef and restaurateur Rob Larman’s second venture in the space.
In Petaluma, Table Culture Provisions recently opened up at its new location, to the delight of their locavore customers. With simple, fresh, delicious dishes that incorporate local ingredients, Table Culture Provisions offers seasonal California Wine Country fare that walks the line between comfort food and haute cuisine. Dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
And for dessert? Beloved artisan chocolatier Fleur Sauvage opened up their first brick and mortar customer retail space in Windsor in mid-December (just in time for the holidays), while Stellina Pronto opened their Petaluma cafe and bakery, featuring a variety of mouth watering pastries (as well as wood fired pizzas, paninis, and frittatas) in the fall of 2021.
Several other notable Sonoma County restaurant, eatery, or foodie related openings include Khom Loi in Sebastopol, Sonoma County’s newest Thai restaurant; the Latin-influenced Pezcow in Windsor; Santa Rosa’s El Meson de los Molcajetes Mexican restaurant; El Dorado Cantina, El Dorado Kitchen’s new take-out only cantina window in Sonoma; Gold Ridge Organic Farms in Sebastopol, featuring organic produce and olive oil; premium olive oil producer Il Fusti in Sebastopol; and the newly rehabbed Altamont General Store and Cafe in Occidental.
Since opening its doors in Healdsburg in July 2021, the wine tasting collective that is Bacchus Landing has grown to include five wineries, including new additions Alden Alli, Dot Wines, and Smith and Story having ‘officially’ opened their tasting rooms last year. And a new arrival to look forward to in 2022 is The Setting Wines (one of noteworthy winemaker Jesse Katz’s brands), slated to open up their new tasting space in early 2022.
In downtown Healdsburg, a couple of exciting new bar and tasting room openings include the swanky Burdock Bar (which occupies the space next to Duke’s on the plaza) and Marine Layer Wines, where wine tastings take place in their new design-savvy tasting room.
In Sonoma, The Beacon Cocktail Bar had its belated official opening in spring of 2021. This speak-easy style cocktail bar, tucked away upstairs inside the Taub Family Outpost, serves a selection of craft cocktails that incorporate artisan spirits and mixers.
Offering high end farm-stay experiences just minutes from the center of Healdsburg, The Barn at NewTree Ranch opened in summer of 2021. NewTree Ranch is a sustainable eco-luxury farmstead retreat, animal sanctuary, and regenerative farm situated on 120 acres in the heart of Healdsburg Wine Country. The ranch offers both glamping options as well as private farm stays that offer guests an immersive experience. The Barn is an off-grid, solar powered private farm stay residence housed in a renovated barn house situated on a one acre parcel just above New Tree farm. Guests who book stays at The Barn (this property can be rented for a minimum of thirty nights for up to four people) will enjoy a peaceful and remote retreat nestled in the redwoods and surrounded by nature and other peace inspiring amenities such as a Japanese tea garden and stone pool.
In Santa Rosa, The Flamingo Resort unveiled a multimillion-dollar reimagination of their 10-acre hotel and resort property in June of 2021. Considered a cornerstone of the Santa Rosa community for over 60 years, the iconic resort has always strived to provide an urban oasis to their guests, just minutes from vineyards and wineries in Wine Country. The hotel features 156 guest rooms and 14 spacious poolside suites, many with private outdoor patios, designed to blend the resort’s mid-century architecture with a fresh modern design, creating a sanctuary for guests to relax or work. The property offers everything visitors need to enjoy a relaxing getaway including an on-site restaurant, poolside dining, a health club, spa, fitness center, pilates and cycling studio, tennis courts, a lap pool, and large stretches of indoor and outdoor gathering spaces.
And over in West Sonoma County, The Stavrand (formerly The Applewood Inn) unveiled their newly remodeled boutique hotel and rooms last fall. The new look is a reimagining of their spacious rooms, including a luxury remodel of their bathrooms, offering guests a comfortable place to rest their heads amid redwoods and vineyards in the Russian River Valley.
The 21-room hotel offers guests a menu of experiences and amenities including outdoor yoga classes, spa treatments, fireside aperitifs, and world-class California cuisine prepared by their on-site chef and utilizing ingredients from their culinary garden.