By: Blaire Constantinou, Travelzoo
It’s rare to find such a diverse agricultural locale as Sonoma, where ancient olive orchards give way to organic farms that produce everything from fruits and vegetables to nuts and herbs.
From world-renowned cheeses and hand-pressed olive oils to lovingly-crafted chocolate truffles and boutique brew beer, it’s no surprise to discover that the artisan food scene is thriving.
Whether it’s authentic foodie souvenirs, picnic supplies or epicurean tastings you’re looking for, farm-to-table highlights are in no short supply in Sonoma. Here are few not to miss.
The Epicurean Connection
For experiential cheesemaking classes, The Epicurean Connection is a must-visit for foodies. Founded by award-winning cheesemaker, Sheana Davis - who's been at the heart of the farmstead cheese movement for more than 24 years - there’s no better place to start your epicurean tour of Sonoma.
Vella Cheese Company
Handmade in Sonoma since 1931 - and sustainably-produced since 2003 - Vella Cheese Company continues the legacy of its world-class cheesemaking legacy in an award-winning range of gourmet cheeses. Visit its historic store Monday through Saturday to sample delicious cheddars, monterey jack, italian-style cheeses, and more.
One of the newest additions to Sonoma’s farm-to-table food scene, CocoaPlanet is heaven for sweet-toothed visitors with any diet restriction - thanks to its all-natural, free-from chocolate collection. Offering pairings, factory tours, and delicious cocoa-inspired cuisine in its modern French cafe, it’s well worth a visit.
Wine Country Chocolates
Located right on Sonoma Plaza, watch sweet creations being lovingly-made in front of you at Wine Country Chocolate’s viewable kitchen. Specializing in world-class, wine-infused chocolates and truffles, walk-in tastings makes this shop a great place to visit while exploring downtown Sonoma, while its daily-rotating flavors mean you may well find yourself back again for more.
Figone’s of California Olive Oil Co
Another epicurean must-visit on Sonoma Plaza, family-run Figone’s is a small specialty Olive Oil and Balsamic producer, established in 1989. Offering complimentary daily tastings of its premium oils, beautiful olive wood products, and more, you may well find your perfect Sonoma souvenir here too.
The Olive Press
From award-winning oil tastings and unique pairings to culinary gift shopping and tours of its beautiful, Tuscan-inspired grounds, a visit to The Olive Press is a real treat for foodies. Starting out as the first olive mill in Sonoma, it’s now the most highly-award producer in the nation. Seek out its tasting room at the Jacuzzi Family Winery on Arnold Drive.
With over 20 fresh beers on tap, the Sonoma Springs german beer hall-inspired taproom is pure bliss for ale-lovers, offering a charming setting in which to enjoy its range of award-winning brews. From hand-crafted california ales to german style beers to barrel aged brews, there’s something for every palate, whether it’s a pint, a tasting flight, or a growler to go.
Carneros Brewing Company
The family-operated Carneros is one of only a handful of Latino-owned breweries in the U.S. Using the best local ingredients - including hops grown at their Sonoma brewery - it produces handcrafted Hefeweizen, Cerveza Pilsner, Carneros IPA, and more. Visit their Mission-inspired brewery-taproom and watch the brewmaster at work while you sample your favorite ales; or enjoy a picnic with your beer in their sprawling, scenic garden.
Delis & Markets
Open daily from 5am to 9.30pm, Sonoma Market is your one-stop-shop for picnic supplies - whatever the time of day. Order picnic boxes for pick-up ahead of time, or browse the deli offerings in store. From grass-fed meats and organic local produce to gourmet groceries and Sonoma Valley fine wines, you’re sure to tick off your whole shopping list here.
Valley of the Moon Farmers Market
Held every Tuesday evening from May through October, Sonoma Plaza's Valley of the Moon Farmers Market is the best place in town for diverse local produce, healthy food vendors, and community spirit.