Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Going to Sonoma

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 23, 2009.

I'll be in Sonoma for a few days in August of this month and while much of my schedule has been set I was hoping, at the suggestion dmcker, to accumulate valuable information such as we've done for Napa.

So who has the goods on Sonoma?

Just to begin I'll be staying at the Best Western right in Sonoma, good rates, a nice property and walking distance to central Sonoma.



Let's hear it all!

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Reply by oceank8, Jun 23, 2009.

Food- Girl in the Fig; quite possibly the best restaurant I have eaten at! For dessert, get the port sampler with the cheese plate. They put a fig compote on there that is fabulous!

Also, don't forget a visit to Vella's. Spectacular cheeses! It is just a small store on one of the side streets that has been there forever.

The Best Western is a great location and there are lots of small winery tasting rooms in town.

Reply by evaem, Jun 23, 2009.

I've spent a lot of time in Sonoma and have many friends there... let me ask around and I'll get back to you!

Reply by John Andrews, Jun 23, 2009.

@Greg ... I'm the Sonoma Curator so I got plenty of info for you. Anything in particular you are looking for?

Reply by jessicatrujillo, Jun 24, 2009.

Try the Red Grape right off the square (by Bank of America)for thin crust pizza or Della Santina (by the theater on the square), sit outside and have the veal. Delicious!

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 24, 2009.

Great start, Thanks!


I'm hoping to replicate our great Napa resource thread. I'll be archiving this info so we can build a where to go and what to do database so any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

Reply by Derek67, Jun 24, 2009.


Della Santina just off of the square for lunch or dinner. For wine go to some of the lesser knowns like Bartholemew Park and Wellington.

Have fun!

Reply by dmcker, Jun 24, 2009.

Are you going to try to cover all of Sonoma, or specific areas (e.g. Russian River Valley). I assume you want recs for places to stay, too, to cover all the bases...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 25, 2009.

I am looking for any and all suggestions. I will be staying In Sonoma itself, the "city" of, so dining suggestion within walking distance of the plaza are of particular interest, but all suggestions are encouraged and welcome!

Reply by Daniel Petroski, Jun 26, 2009.

Estate is The Girl and the Fig's new Italian outpost - a couple blocks outside the plaza. Cafe le Haye can't be beat as well. As for other great dining, Zazu (on Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa) is my all-time favorite and Cafe St. Rose in Sebastopol. Also, Eloise in Sebastopol (new restaurant from a New York team of owners/chefs) and K&L Bistro also in Sebastopol. As for wineries, many to choose from, let's see where this thread takes you. I'll chime in some more then.... Plus, let me know what your dates are and it would be great for Honda John and me to meet you out for dinner.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 26, 2009.

Will do!

So what's the best place for wine by the glass in Sonoma?

Reply by carey1, Jun 28, 2009.

Hi Greg,

I'm not sure about "best" place for wine by the glass, but wineries can now sell wine by the glass if they choose, which opens up the possibilities. On the Sonoma side (town of that is) I would recommend Cornerstone Gardens. It's on Arnold Drive, across from Gloria Ferrer. They have artistic and dramatic landscapes designed by world famous landscape designers. Plus a showcase with several co-op tasting rooms (small, small production stuff) and the "infamous" Roshambo Winery (their quirky, but effective wine marketing is not to be missed! ) Check out their website Have a great time! -Carey

Reply by John Andrews, Jun 28, 2009.

Greg ... I think I mentioned three of the restaurants I like on / close to the square:

- Cafe La Haye
- Eldorado Kitchen
- Girl & The Fig

I'll send you some more recommendations in a separate email.

As Dan has indicated ... would love to meet up for dinner while you are here.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 29, 2009.

I'll let you guys know my schedule and I'll definitely make time for you guys!

Girl & the fig seems to be very popular, that one to go on the list!

Reply by Derek67, Jun 29, 2009.

The best place for a glass of wine is the patio at Chateau St Jean;-)

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

Sonoma has always seemed spread-out enough that I would want to focus on specific themes for each trip. One time I did sparkling wine, another time Russian River pinots and chardonnays. But I really haven't had a lot of time to spend each time I was there because, unlike the case with my Napa experience, where it was all pleasure and leisure time there up until just a few years ago, my visits to Sonoma were tangential to business I was doing in Sebastopol or down on Lucas Valley Road in Marin.

One thing I always try to do is visit wine merchants, even when in the middle of wine country. They provide an interesting and informative counterpart to info I'm fed at the wineries, and let me know of new wines and winemakers that weren't already on my map or agenda. In Sonoma town I'd try to get an appointment with the right person at the Rare Wine Co., and visit the Sonoma Wine Shop, right off the to of my head.

Regarding places to stay, recommendations very much depend on the purpose/style/budget for the trip. If I'm alone and not spending a lot of time in my room or otherwise at my hotel, then something comfortable enough, efficient and reasonably priced would be my reflex inclination, though I'm always a sucker for local character and good food, even under those circumstances. If I wanted something more idyllic on a romantic weekend, special family gathering, or even traveling with important clients, and was willing to spend more, then I'd tend towards something like the Vintners Inn, which is an oasis of its own in the middle of the vineyards, with very nice cottages, and an excellent restaurant where the food and winelist are quite special.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

Sorry, forgot to add the link:

Will likely have some more recommendations when I have the time to sit and think...

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

Other spots for food and lodgings where I've stayed on special outings in recent years, and that are beginning to pop to mind, range from the Madrona Manor in Healdsberg to the inn and restaurant at River's End, at the mouth of the Russian River . Two very different places, and the Madrona stay was with clients while the River's End was of a more romantic nature. Both had good food and wine and interesting, though different, styles. Years ago I spent a lot of time on the coast all the way from Bodega Bay up to the Grant's Pass area, but that was when the wines and wineries of Sonoma and Mendocino were in a very different era. I'll try to focus my recall more on my visits this decade, and see what I come up with...

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

As I reminisce about the Sonoma coast I'm also realizing that's the area I want to focus on in my next trip to the area, whenever that is. I've always liked a more French style to my pinot noirs and chardonnays than many places in California and Oregon have tended to offer. I would want to check out the wine being made on the hilltops above the fog in that area called The True (Rivers-Marie wines, and anything else made from those vineyards along the Taylor Lane ridgetop), because I hear they are kicking-ass savate-style these days...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 30, 2009.

Funny about the True. Was just discussing those self same hilltops just last night. Special places and special winemakers are creating new benchmarks for some wines. It'll be very interesting to see what those wines look like with a few years age on them.

Thanks for all the tips so far. This is a wonderful thread, let's keep it going!

Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2009.

Yeah, I heard that the Obamas had a bottle of Hirsch pinot during their pre-show dinner at Blue Hill on their night out in NYC a month or so ago. Somebody must be clueing them in...

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