While Sonoma County is best known for wine, the industry has opened up its doors to a bevy of artisanal producers, making delicious compliments to the local grape scene. Not only is Sonoma one of the top destinations in the nation for award-winning olive oils that rival the best producers in Italy, but it’s also home to dairy farms and creameries, master butchers, and craft beverage makers of beer, cider, and spirits.
Whether you’re curating an epic picnic basket or packing a full suitcase of goodies to bring home, here’s where to find — and taste — the best artisan products in Sonoma.
This small and family-run olive oil company has a Tuscan-themed tasting room and shop right in Sonoma on the historic Sonoma Plaza. At Figone’s, they offer complimentary tastings of a variety of olive oils — from a clean Tuscan blend to garlic to blood orange — and aged balsamic vinegars up to 25 years. But if you really want to learn all things olive oil production, make an appointment for a tour and tasting a few minutes down the road at their mill. The experience, which resumes this spring, includes a hearty selection of hors d’oeuvres that’s nearly a full meal and a bottle of olive oil to take home.
At the end of a long, windy road just outside downtown Petaluma sits the idyllic McEvoy Ranch, the largest organic olive oil producer in the U.S. McEvoy makes wines too, but high-quality extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) are their specialty and are 100 percent made on-site. Their lineup includes a Traditional Blend, a “New Oil” bottled right at harvest, and a Limited-Edition blend, in addition to flavored oils, like jalapeño and rosemary. Book a weekend morning Public Walkabout Tour for a walking tour of the ranch and mill, plus an olive oil tasting. Or, for a more comprehensive experience, reserve the Private Walkabout Tour for an in-depth look at the property, followed by a tasting of wine, olive oil, cheese, and charcuterie.
Sonoma’s first olive mill is located at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyard estate. Named The Olive Press, it feels straight out of Tuscany and produces some of the most acclaimed olive oils in the nation. Dive into the world of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as you sample your way through award-winning EVOOs and balsamics before deciding which flavors you want to bring home. If wine is a must during your olive oil tasting, you’re in luck; The Olive Press will be launching a wine and olive oil experience this spring, featuring a flight of four wines and four olive oils for the best of both worlds.
Pressing its first batch in 1990, Glen Ellen‘s B.R. Cohn Winery was the first estate olive oil in California to be produced in over a century and thus helped launch the recent EVOO renaissance. The winery’s Olive Hill Estate has an olive grove of over 450 trees dating back to the mid-1800s. After your wine tasting, stop into the Gourmet Shop to taste B.R. Cohn’s estate olive oils and barrel-aged vinegars. Like what you taste? No need to stock up while there if you join the Gourmet Olive Oil Club, which includes a selection of oils and vinegars shipped to your home four times a year.
Planted on Jordan’s 1,200-acre estate is 16 acres of olive trees growing four different varieties of Italian and Spanish olives. Winery chef Todd Knoll incorporates Jordan’s estate olive oil into recipes and Jordan’s wine and food experiences, like the Estate Tour & Tasting, as well as many of their events. You can even sample the olive oil right by the orchard during one of their seasonal vineyard hikes.
Located in beautiful Dry Creek Valley, where olive trees have grown for over a century, Trattore Farms is home to the Dry Creek Olive Oil Company. Part of their work is reviving the old orchards of the region and they even have a custom-made mill on-site, which they brought over from the birthplace of olive oil, Italy’s Perugia region. You can taste Trattore’s olive oils Thursday through Monday — they make several unique blends and flavors like Persian lime and basil — but the Get Your Boots Dirty Tour includes a tour of the vineyard, orchard, and olive mill, culminating in a tasting of olive oil and wine.
All you need to know about DaVero Farms & Winery’s olive oil is that it has the stamp of approval from the Italians. In 1998, their oil beat out the best of Italy in a blind tasting, just like Napa Valley’s wine beat the French in the Judgment of Paris (has anyone seen BottleShock?). DaVero took cuttings from an ancient olive grove in Italy and planted them on their own farm (they were actually the first to bring olive trees into the U.S. from out of the country since the 1800s). Book the Discover the Farm experience, which includes a tour of the olive groves, vineyards, and gardens, a chance to hang out with the farm animals, and a tasting of olive oils and wines paired with a charcuterie plate.
Enjoy a truly rustic and authentic experience at Joe Matos Cheese Factory in Santa Rosa. Open daily, you can pull right up to their little shop and aging room on their farm and be greeted with a big chunk of their St. Jorge, a semi-soft, richly-nutty, cow’s milk cheese named for the island in the Azores that owners Joe and Mary Matos grew up on.
In Sebastopol, Bohemian Creamery offers weekend tours of their hilltop creamery, which overlooks Laguna de Santa Rosa, the Mayacamas mountains, and their herd of Alpine dairy goats. During your visit, you can sample well over a dozen of their goat, sheep, cow, and water buffalo milk cheeses. Head into town where Wm. Cofield Cheesemakers sells proper British cheese, including a blue, aged cheddar, and addictive cheese curds out of their small factory in The Barlow.
The historic Vella Cheese Company is located right off the Sonoma Plaza. Since 1931, they’ve been crafting all-natural jacks, cheddars, and Italian-style cheeses, which you can sample inside their tiny shop. In Petaluma, try a wide array of flavors — from sage cheddar to garlic jack — at the Petaluma Creamery. Shop their line of butter and in the summer months, stay for a cone of delicious ice cream.
Just north of Healdsburg‘s town square, Journeyman Meat Co. is a butcher shop, salumeria, and wine tasting bar from Peter Seghesio, former owner of the 125-year-old, multi-generational Seghesio Family Winery. Seghesio’s grandparents immigrated to Sonoma County from Italy in the 1800s and by the age of three, he was learning how to craft sausage and cure meat. At Journeyman, you can nibble your way through a salumi board for $38 or select a wine and salumi pairing flight. Thistle Meats butcher shop is another great option in Petaluma. Stay for lunch and order up the daily meat pie special.
WineCountry Inspo: Did you know we offer a Cheese Lover’s Tour? During this WineCountry Experience, you’ll travel the California Cheese Trail with an expert, visiting three award-winning creameries to sample local cheeses right where they’re made.
Sonoma County is home to one of the biggest craft brewery scenes in all of Northern California, best known for its big-name breweries Lagunitas and Russian River Brewing, which now has two locations: Santa Rosa and Windsor. But visit virtually any town in Sonoma and you’ll find small, independent breweries making a wide range of styles, from IPAs to saisons to sours. Check out HenHouse (in Santa Rosa and Petaluma), Seismic Brewing Co. in Sebastopol, or Cooperage Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, to name a few. At most of these, you can get up close and personal with the production process.
Once named the Gravenstein Apple Capital of the World, Sebastopol was home-base for apple orchards and canneries before the vineyards and wineries replaced them. Yet the town’s history lives on through hard cider. California’s original cider mill, Ace Cider has been making cider in Sebastopol since 1993. Their Cider Pub is open every Friday, pouring a dozen different ciders by the glass, tasting flight, or growler, with live music as entertainment. Golden State Cider has been producing cider in Sonoma County since 2012, but finally opened a taproom in The Barlow in 2019. They’ve got an array of ciders on tap, in addition to pairing menus from nearby eateries. Horse & Plow is a small, family-run winery and cidery in one. For the cider, they exclusively work with local orchards, sourcing roughly 30 different varieties, and the finished products can be tasted and purchased at their rustic, family and dog-friendly barn on the edge of town.
Martini lovers can’t miss a visit to Hanson in Sonoma. The distillery has a unique approach to vodka, using organic wine grapes which are then fermented into wine and distilled with vodka. Their vodkas are then infused with other organic ingredients, like ginger, Meyer lemon, and habanero. Take a tour of the distillery, enjoy a flight of vodkas, or if you’re really feeling fancy, opt for the martini and caviar pairing experience. Open daily for tastings, they also offer wood-fired pizzas Friday through Sunday.Griffo Distillery in Petaluma, Prohibition Spirits on the Sonoma Plaza, and Sonoma Brothers Distilling in Windsor are also great spots to find locally-made craft spirits. Look for Bitter Girl Bitters and Sonoma Syrup Co. in the local markets to complete your Sonoma artisan cocktail kit back home.