As the birthplace of the farm-to-table movement, Sonoma Valley has attracted food and wine lovers for decades. With a county-wide commitment to sustainability, local farmers and wine growers offer some of the finest produce available, so much so that it’s common to hear lots of oohs and aahs from out-of-town visitors at the farmers’ markets who’ve never seen such bounty and quality. However, with a long list of options, deciding where to go and what to do can be daunting.
Below is a list of five of Sonoma Valley’s top culinary experiences, sure to bring out your inner gourmet (and maybe even your inner hedonist, too). Whether you opt for a tour, a hands-on class or an overnight on a private farm, these possibilities are sure to deliver you authentic culinary adventures.
Award-winning Sonoma Chef Sheana Davis has been an ardent advocate of the local cheese industry in Sonoma for over two decades. As talented a cheesemaker as she is a teacher, Sheana instructs students her students at The Epicurean Connection with contagious enthusiasm. Sign up for dynamic, hands-on cheese classes or private ones, grab a group of your besties or make it a fun day of team building with your colleagues. After making your own homemade ricotta, you may even get a chance to sample Sheana’s own cheese, Délice de la Vallée, a triple-cream blend of cow and goat milk. Mmm!
Take your tastebuds for an unforgettable walk around the Sonoma Plaza on this educational and entertaining culinary adventure with Gourmet Food & Wine Tours. You’ll visit three highly acclaimed farm-to-table restaurants and eat fabulous dishes made entirely from local produce. Your tour guides will teach you the who’s who of the local chef scene, the food history of Sonoma, and the ins and outs of biodynamic farming and why it’s so special. Cap off your tour with a visit to a small-production chocolaterie to pair mouthwatering chocolates with local wines. Have dietary sensitives or restrictions? No problem. These folks make it easy whether you’re a vegetarian, pescatarian or gluten-free.
Sonoma’s Italian heritage has made the valley a hotbed for artisan olive oil production, paving the way for the Figone family, who has been crafting specialty extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars in Sonoma Valley since 1989. Stop by their Tuscan-inspired tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza, and let the friendly staff guide your through their delicious and diverse oils and vinegars. Or get geeky with a private “Tuscan Tour” of their olive mill, where you’ll learn about production, taste through their oils, enjoy charcuterie and hors d’oeuvres, and go home with a bottle of your own oil. With quality standards like these, you’ll never look at olive oil the same way again.
For over two decades, Ramekins Culinary School has delighted students with a fabulous array of classes highlighting cuisines from around the world, taught by renowned chefs. Sign up for one of their three-hour classes or weekend boot camps, learn from seasoned culinary pros, then finish the class with an elegant meal you help prepare. If you’re looking to make a weekend out of it, consider staying in one of their Spanish colonial-inspired inn’s deluxe suites, a short walk from downtown Sonoma.
Looking to up the ante with your next family reunion or corporate retreat? Bring the whole fam damily down to Sonoma Broadway Farms, a mile down the road from Sonoma’s historic plaza, for a relaxing getaway on a six-acre authentic working farm. Harvest from the farm’s gardens, cook together in their gorgeous kitchen, and eat in an idyllic country setting. Dorm-room sleeping accommodations, delicious food and modern amenities make this a must for team-building and yoga retreats, too.