The 10 Best Wine & Food Pairing Experiences in Sonoma County

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  • on JULY 6, 2016
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Pairing wine with food opens up a whole new world of flavors and sensations, and no one does it better than Wine Country. Sonoma County is home to many wineries that specialize in sourcing the best talent from around the world to create exquisite food and wine pairings that will blow you away. Here are 10 experiences that are not to be missed.

Wineries / Kenwood

St. Francis Winery

Discover an authentic Sonoma Valley experience. Award-winning wine tastings, exquisite food pairings, majestic landscapes, sprawling vineyards & pure Wine Country charm coming together to make your visit unforgettable.

St. Francis Winery was voted “No. 1 Restaurant in America” by OpenTable diners in 2013, and again in 2015, despite the fact that it’s a winery. Chef Bryan Jones has created a veritable feast on site, with five courses of exquisitely prepared bites paired to perfection with St. Francis Winery’s lush, fruit-driven wines.

Insider Tip

Feeling the need to work off the rich culinary experience you just indulged in? The Oakmont Golf Course is across the street, offering a picturesque afternoon of exercise and sunshine on a course that has been called one of the most challenging in northern California.

Wineries / Healdsburg

Portalupi Wine Co.

Visit the classy tasting room of this family owned winery for a glass of wine, food and wine pairings, or a tasting. Take home one of their signature milk jugs of table wine.

Portalupi Wine embodies the Cal-Ital lifestyle by making exquisite wines from Italian varieties like Barbera and Charbono (in addition to the more classic Sonoma varieties like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel), with a focus on warm hospitality and excellent food. The food and wine pairing features four wines paired with local cheeses and hand-cured salumi. The pairing gets a little crazy when the Cheetos are brought out on a tray, but stick with it: you’ll be surprised at how well they pair!

Insider Tip

The tasting room is located just off of Healdsburg Square, so walk over to Bear Republic Brewing afterwards to shake up your day with some excellent local craft beer.

Wineries / Sebastopol

Lynmar Estate Winery

Sit on the patio and overlook the beautiful garden and vineyards at this beautiful winery. You’ll enjoy fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with knowledgeable, down-to-earth staff. Open seven days a week, 10AM – 4:30PM by reservation only.

Lynmar Estate is one of Sonoma’s pioneering wineries, and it still holds the standard high for Wine Country today. Lynmar offers its highly regarded wine and food pairings May through October only, because all of the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. The Lynmar Lunch is a three-course, farm-to-table meal paired with a variety of Lynmar wines, a classic and memorable Wine Country feast. Or, sign up for Pizza & Pinot, a two-hour experience hosted in the Redwood Grove, complete with artisan pizzas and Lynmar wines.

Insider Tip

Wine club members have the exclusive opportunity to stay overnight in the vineyards at the Bliss House, a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath house surrounded by vineyards, organic vegetable gardens, and views of the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Wineries / Sonoma

Ram's Gate Winery

This winery has picturesque vineyard views and gorgeous, rustic interiors. Order charcuterie with your wine flight and enjoy an upscale, pleasant ambience.

Beauty imbues every aspect of Ramsgate Winery, including the winery’s soaring ceilings, vast vineyard views, exquisite wines, and delicious pairings. It is one of the first wineries to welcome you on the drive up from San Francisco, and it is known throughout Sonoma County for great food pairings and private events. The Palate Play experience includes a tour of the winery—glass in hand, of course—and a seated tasting with a wine educator to guide you through five wine and food pairings prepared by Chef Taylr Behnam.

Insider Tip

For a romantic occasion, book the Carneros Estate Picnic. It includes a tour of the winery, an Estate Tasting, and the opportunity to select your favorite bottle to accompany a mouth-watering picnic in the vineyards.

Wineries /

Mayo Family Winery

Mayo is a small family owned winery located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. They do a number of interesting varieties, and will lead you through them in an adventurous tasting.

Mayo Family Winery is a small family-run winery in Sonoma Valley that produces an array of single vineyard wines, from classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to more experimental Gewürztraminer and Mourvédre. The winery’s Reserve Room in Kenwood offers an intimate way to experience the best of Wine Country’s food and wine pairings: reserve wines are paired with seven courses of bites crafted by Chef Samuel Frumkin for an experience you’ll tell your friends about for years to come.

Insider Tip

Just up the road is Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, one of Sonoma’s best kept secrets. Take a break from wine tasting to enjoy Sonoma’s beautiful weather while strolling through one of the world’s largest collection of Asian plants.

Wineries / Sebastopol

Marimar Estate

Make an appointment to enjoy tapas and fine wine at this dog-friendly winery with beautiful vineyard views.

Founder Marimar Torres came to Sonoma from her native Spain in 1975, bringing generations of wine knowledge and passion with her. Today, she and her family run a thriving winery with a delicious tapas and wine pairing that’s not to be missed. Five Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are paired with tapas made from Marimar’s own cookbook.

Insider Tip

Go the extra mile by signing up for the Plato de Charcuteria, which includes a VIP tour of the Don Miguel Vineyard, a tapas pairing, and the chance to choose a bottle from Marimar’s cellar to pair with a rich charcuterie plate. Allow one-and-a-half hours for the experience—and maybe time for a nap afterwards.

Wineries / Healdsburg

J Vineyards & Winery

The elegant J Bubble Room's seated, five-course experience showcases the innovative, local, and seasonally-inspired food of Executive Chef Carl Shelton paired with J's acclaimed wines.

J. Vineyards & Winery is a staple of Sonoma County, known for its great food and wine pairing experiences, as much as for its delectable sparkling wines. Judy Jordan founded one of Sonoma’s first food and wine programs here in 1999, and today there are many experiences to choose from. We recommend the Terrace Tasting, an alfresco experience (offered May through October) where you’ll enjoy four wines (sparkling or still) paired with four bites, served on the relaxing terrace. The J Bubble Room is also worth a visit if you’re feeling fancy: a luxurious private room where you’re treated to a five-course meal paired with small lot wines.

Insider Tip

J shares a parking lot with Rodney Strong, so kill two birds with one stone by popping over to Rodney Strong after your J experience to try their renowned Sonoma wines.

Wineries / Sonoma

Hamel Family Wines

Privately led vineyard, winery and cave tours culminate with a tasting of limited-production, estate-grown wines from the Hamel's Sonoma Valley and Moon Mountain District vineyards.

Hamel Family Wines specializes in Bordeaux varieties, a welcome break from Sonoma’s usual Chardonnay and Pinot Noir focus. The Reserve Experience includes a private tasting of estate series wines, barrel samples, reserve wines, and library wines, accompanied by cheese, charcuterie, and small bites.

Insider Tip

Can’t make it to the Reserve Tasting, or love something you tasted there? The winery posts the recipes for the small bites on their website, including short ribs with black fig mole, corn spoon bread, and cider-poached salmon.

Wineries / Santa Rosa

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens

Visit a magnificent chateau set among 120 acres of vineyards, tour a culinary sensory garden, tasting room and food and wine pairings with Chef Justin Wangler.

Experience the Kendall Jackson (known as KJ to the truly fanatic) you know and love, but at a higher level. The estate offers three wine and food pairing experiences: a reserve wine and food pairing, a wine and cheese pairing, and a wine and chocolate pairing. Each experience includes Kendall Jackson’s beloved Sonoma wines, paired with a mix of classic bites, cheeses, and chocolates.

Insider Tip

Plan your trip to Sonoma to coincide with KJ’s Heirloom Tomato Festival in September, a beloved local festival that celebrates the best in heirloom tomatoes, other local foods, and, of course, wine.


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