Established in 1835 by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Military Commander and Director of the Northern Frontier for the Mexican government, the Sonoma Plaza is a national historic landmark that played an important role in California’s history. This eight-acre park with Sonoma City Hall at its center is where the Bear Flag – the inspiration for the California State Flag – was first raised, and where California’s independence from Mexico was declared. The Sonoma Plaza is now a bustling Wine Country destination lined with tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops, and attracts visitors from around the globe year-round.
Enjoying a glass or three of delicious Sonoma County wine in a historic setting is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. However, there’s something otherworldly about discovering the palate-wowing power of the perfect food and wine pairing. Thankfully many of the tasting rooms on and around the Sonoma Plaza offer unique culinary experiences designed specifically to pair with their wines. Here are a few of our favorites.
Sonoma County history and charm ooze from this cozy tasting room, which offers award-winning pinot noir and chardonnay from vineyards across the Pacific Coast. Check out their flagship Root 101 experience, in which guests embark on an educational “1,000 Miles of Pinot” journey up and down the West Coast by way of the vineyard source for each wine. Each sip is paired with carefully-curated, seasonal, pinot-centric bites by notable Sonoma Chef, Bryan Jones, in a truly farm-to-table culinary offering. Got a sweet tooth? Enjoy WALT Pinot paired perfectly with chocolate, in their wine and chocolate tasting experience.
Located in the Vallejo-Castenada Adobe, originally built in 1942 by General Mariano Vallejo’s brother, Salvador, Three Sticks offers tasting experiences focused on pinot noir and chardonnay in this lovingly restored Sonoma landmark, including the new “Oysters & Chardonnay” tasting, in partnership with El Dorado Kitchen. This unique experience invites guests to explore the terroir and “merroir” (marine + terroir) of the Sonoma Coast while being guided through a fun and educational flight of single vineyard chardonnays, perfectly paired with three types of fresh oysters.
While the Bedrock Wine Co. team never intended to open a tasting room, preferring to focus their energies on growing grapes and making exquisite, terroir-driven wines, most of which they sell directly to their consumers, we’re thankful they did. When the 1852 home of General Joseph Hooker was up for rent for the first time in its history in 2017, they jumped on it, partnering with the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation to turn it into a tasting room and exhibit of mid-19th century photos. This tiny piece of history is the perfect setting in which to enjoy the Under the Wire + Caviar Tasting on offer. Guests will sample three one-ounce tins of caviar sourced from local purveyors with a selection of chips and Bellwether Farms Crème Fraiche, all paired with Under the Wire’s single-vineyard, single-vintage sparkling wines in a fun, high-meets-low-brow pairing experience.
Located just off the Sonoma Plaza, this hidden gem winery’s vision is simple: craft exceptional pinot noir and chardonnay. This core principle is at the heart of Texture’s signature tasting experience, in which guests are treated to a guided, comparative tasting of the winery’s premium varietal and appellation-specific wines. Served alongside the wines are Executive Chef Tim Hammack’s expertly curated, small-bite pairings using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients that span Sonoma County, from the Pacific ocean to local farms and gardens.
Named one of the top 25 wine bars in the country by Travel & Leisure, this Sonoma Plaza hot spot offers a welcoming environment for sparkling wine lovers to explore a dizzying selection of classic Champagnes and bubblies from around the world, along with an array of wine, beer, and light bites. For a real treat, check out the Premier Flight which highlights Tête de Cuvée Champagnes (the best of the best), including pours of Cristal, Dom Perignon, and a third wild card option. Be sure to splurge on the decadent Tsar Nicoulai caviar service for a totally indulgent food and wine pairing.
Though not technically right on the Sonoma Plaza, these nearby spots are an absolute must for exceptional food and wine pairing experiences.
Located just a few miles from downtown Sonoma, this Wine Country favorite is California’s oldest continuously family-owned winery. It’s also known for exceptional wine experiences with a culinary element. Try the classic Rhinefarm Experience and enjoy a flight of five wines with optional seasonal snack add-ons. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, hop aboard the winery’s Pinzgauer, a Swiss Army transport vehicle, for the Pinz Excursion – an off-roading experience across Rhinefarm. As you cruise through organic vineyards, your guide will take you on a journey through history, stopping at several spots in the vineyard to enjoy wine along with cheese and charcuterie.
Also worth the journey outside the Plaza is a visit to the nearby Hamel Family Wines for their Reserve Experience, personalized and curated by Executive Chef Clinton Huntsman. This intimate, bespoke flavor journey is centered not only on Hamel’s expressive lineup of biodynamic and dry-farmed wines, but also on each guest’s individual dietary needs and preferences. Chef Clinton aims to push the boundaries of typical cabernet sauvignon food pairings, focusing on high-quality, seasonal, and local ingredients that surprise and delight at every turn of this four-course tasting menu.
Prefer to spread the love? There are plenty of walking food and wine tours of downtown Sonoma in and around the square, so you can get your steps in while enjoying the flavors of Sonoma County. Gourmet Food and Wine Tours offers a great, three-hour excursion through the Plaza, where you will spend about 30 minutes each at a selection of local restaurants and tasting rooms for light bites and wine, with fresh air and stories of the region’s robust history in between each stop. Don’t feel like walking? Extranomical Tours offers a private food and wine pairing experience, featuring a seated, three-course lunch at one of Sonoma Plaza’s top restaurants, with pairings sourced from local wineries.