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StarChefs
Features Napa and Sonoma Travel: What to Eat and Where to Stay in California’s Wine Country
 
TRAVEL ARCHIVE
Napa and Sonoma Travel:
What to Eat and Where to Stay in California’s Wine Country

May 2009

The pace in California’s Northern Wine Country can be slower, luring chefs who crave a change in lifestyle. It’s a sommeliers paradise, but it’s also an oasis for any culinary professional who wants to slow down and master his/her craft. It’s a phenomenal place to stage or visit to learn about artisan crafts, wine-driven cuisine, the art of pairing, using seasonal and local produce, and being sustainability-minded.

Napa and Sonoma have become not only a vinophile’s destination, but a culinary mecca attracting top-notch chefs and culinary professionals from all over the world. Although real estate can be expensive here, prices everywhere are going down and it’s still cheaper than most major cities. Rising Star Chefs Eric Korsh and Ginevra Iverson of Restaurant Eloise were looking to open a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, but found the prices too steep so they moved to Sonoma instead. Rising Star Chef Matt Spector and his wife Sonjia up and left a wildly successful restaurant in Philadelphia in exchange for the appealing Wine Country life.

Few restaurants in Napa and Sonoma do huge covers; most establishments are small, and many are family-run (there are three husband-and-wife teams alone in our Rising Star class). What this means is that chefs have the time to focus on producing quality products, which in this region often results in finely-tuned artisanal foodstuffs. More than anywhere else we’ve travelled recently, Napa and Sonoma restaurants have a high number of charcuterie programs; it seems that nearly every restaurant here offers at least local, if not in-house, cured meats.

Handmade, house-made, and in-house are the keywords here, with even the smallest restaurants proudly making their own cheese, pasta, salumi, and more. Chefs in Napa and Sonoma probably end up working the same long hours as chefs everywhere, but in Wine Country more of that time is devoted to developing artisanal products and growing their own produce.

Local and sustainable are also more than buzzwords in California’s Northern Wine Country. Thanks to the ample growing space, climate, and fertile soil, nearly every restaurant we encountered boasted gardens or farms that supplied their seasonal menus. Composting, recycling, and farming are common practice, with chefs going beyond the norm to be environmentally friendly. At Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, for example,all of the take-out containers are biodegradable and melt in the sun.

And, of course, you can’t overlook the wine in Napa and Sonoma. Wine is the focal point of what the chef does there, and it drives the culinary scene and the menus. Many of the wine lists are very California-heavy, if not dedicated exclusively to local (sometimes even local and biodynamic/organic) wines. As a sommelier, a chef, or a visitor you have some of the world’s most exciting vineyards at your fingertips, and there is great opportunity to learn about wine-driven menus and pairing.

While wine certainly dominates the beverage scene in Napa and Sonoma, they do have a burgeoning mixology culture. For the liquor-focused in Wine Country, it’s more about the bar chef than the speakeasy crowd that we’ve seen in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. Even the cocktails have homespun Napa/Sonoma touches, like Chris Tunstall’s Fig Cocktail at The Girl & the Fig, which has house-made fig liquor, house-infused blueberry vodka, ginger simple syrup, lime, and fresh rosemary blossoms.

We may have fallen in love with the pace of life in California’s Northern Wine Country, but there are, of course, challenges even for this seemingly idyllic lifestyle. For one, it’s an extremely seasonal market. Spring and summer are booming, but January is dead, with many restaurants opting to close for the month rather than spend the overhead. We’ve also heard that despite the proximity of CIA Greystone, there is a dearth of line cooks, partially because the cost of living can be expensive. And if you don’t like to drive, then this isn’t the place for you. In the end, even if you don’t decide to drop everything and move to Napa or Sonoma, it's at least worth a visit for professional inspiration.

   

Napa Restaurants


Sonoma Restaurants


Bardessono
Bistro Don Giovanni
Boon Fly Café
(at the Carneros Inn)

Bottega
Bouchon
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
Cook
Farm (at the Carneros Inn)
Go Fish

JoLe
La Toque
The Martini House
Mustard’s Grill
Restaurant at Meadowood
Solbar
Taylor’s Automatic Refresher
Ubuntu


Bovolo
Café La Haye
Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar
(at the Lodge at Sonoma)

Cyrus
Diavola
Dry Creek Kitchen
El Dorado Kitchen
Estate
Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant


the girl & the fig
Madrona Manor

Restaurant Eloise
Zazu Restaurant and Farm

   

Napa Hotels

Sonoma Hotels

Coloma Hotels


Bardessono Hotel
The Carneros Inn
Meadowood Hotel

The Honor Mansion
The Lodge at Sonoma

Coloma Country Inn

 



Bardessono
6526 Yount Street
Yountville, CA
(707) 204-6000
www.bardessono.com
Hours: Mon-Sun 7am-10:30am; 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm

Sustainability permeates through both the hotel and restaurant at Bardessono. This new, LEED-certified luxury complex was built green from the ground up. Chef Sean O’Toole prepares food inspired by his surroundings, using all compost to feed the garden out back. An international flair touches his dishes, as in local lamb that’s flavored with curry and served with coconut basmati rice. Pastry Chef Otto Sanchez finishes the meal with refreshing sweets, such as the Citrus Soup with Toasted Orange Cake and Citrus Sorbet. The wine list features a number of local, biodynamic, organic, and sustainable wines to boot.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Watson's Napa Valley Lamb with Coconut Basmati Rice and Pineapple Quince
  • Seasonal Citrus Soup with Toasted Orange Cake and Citrus Sorbet
Bardessono: Seasonal Citrus Soup with Toasted Orange Cake and Citrus Sorbet
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Bistro Don Giovanni
4110 Howard Lane
Napa, CA
(707) 224-3300
www.bistrodongiovanni.com
Hours: Sun-Thur 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm

Open since 1993, Bistro Don Giovanni has become a wine country institution. It’s a busy Italian trattoria with a wood burning fireplace and picturesque outdoor patio. The talented sommelier, Michael Gaylen, will help guide you through the reasonably priced wine list, which highlights varietals from California and Italy, with a few other locations mixed in for good measure. And if you’re having a bite, be sure to sample Chef Scott Warner’s juicy suckling pig on skewers with salsa verde and olive oil mashed potatoes.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Spiedini: Suckling Pig with Cippolini Onions, Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, and Salsa Verde
Bistro Don Giovanni: Spiedini: Suckling Pig with Cippolini Onions, Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, and Salsa Verde
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Boon Fly Café
The Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway
Napa, CA
(707) 299-4870
www.thecarnerosinn.com
Hours: Daily 7am-9pm

Located at the Carneros Inn, Boon Fly Café looks like a classic farmhouse that has been turned into a modern rustic eatery with high ceilings and dark wood floors and tables. The attentive staff will take care of you at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We recommend starting your day with Chef Jeffrey Jake’s well-executed takes on classic American breakfast dishes. Eggs Benedict is served on house-made pain levain with thick-sliced local Sonoma Ham, and the hollandaise sauce gets a kick from jalapeños.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Boon Fly Benedict: House-Made Pain Levain, Thick-Sliced Local Ham, Poached Eggs, and Jalapeño-Hollandaise with Crispy Hash Browns
Boon Fly Café (at the Carneros Inn): Boon Fly Benedict: House-Made Pain Levain, Thick-Sliced Local Ham, Poached Eggs, and Jalapeño-Hollandaise with Crispy Hash Browns
+ Click image to enlarge

Bottega
6525 Washington Street
Yountville, CA
(707) 945-1050
www.botteganapavalley.com
Hours: Tues-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm; Mon-Thur 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm; Sun 5pm-9:30pm

Michael Chiarello’s Bottega feels like a ski lodge that has been dropped into California’s Wine Country. Two large fireplaces sit at the center of the outside covered terrazzo, surrounded by couches and a stylish décor. Rising Star Chef Nick Ritchie has been Chiarello’s protégé ever since Ritchie knocked on his door 10 years ago for a job to keep him out of trouble. Chef Ritchie turns out Old World Italian cuisine with New World pizzazz that is comforting and rich with flavor. This is not high concept gastronomy, but rather the kind of food that an Italian grandmother might cook; it is filling and well-executed. Ricotta gnocchi is light and tender with just the right bite and Osso Bucco is prepared with lamb instead of the traditional veal, and braised in goat’s milk.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Ricotta Gnocchi with Salsa di Pomodoro della Nonna and Pecorino
  • Goat Milk-Braised Lamb Osso Bucco with Garlic, Fennel, Sweet Onions, and Carrot Caponata
Bottega: Ricotta Gnocchi with Salsa di Pomodoro della Nonna and Pecorino
+ Click image to enlarge

Bouchon
6534 Washington Street
Yountville, CA
(707) 944-8037
www.bouchonbistro.com
Hours: Daily 11:30am-12:30am

Bouchon was designed as a bistro, and while it maintains a certain casual atmosphere the cuisine is elevated far beyond standard bistro food. Rising Star Chef Philip Tessier decided to make the move from New York’s Per Se to California because it seemed like a better place to raise his daughter. While Chef Tessier is clearly a student of Executive Chef Thomas Keller, he is also making his own distinct mark on Bouchon. The restaurant was originally French Bistro-style, but Tessier has changed this and made it his own. Chef Tessier gets much of his inspiration from the French Laundry garden, where the restaurant sources much of its produce. A garden beet salad, for example, is colorfully served with sous vide red rhubarb, green asparagus that screams spring, and a light, refreshing Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Chef Tessier works with immaculate precision, using tweezers to plate in some instances and always aiming for flawlessness. Sommelier Kassidy Harris has an impressive knowledge of the French and California-dominated wine list, finding wines that complement each component of Chef Tessier’s complex dishes.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Mushroom Salad with Pickled Sunchokes, Marcona Almonds, Upland Cress, and Sunchoke Glaçage
  • Garden Beet Salad with Rhubarb, Green Asparagus, Mâche, and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Bouchon: Garden Beet Salad with Rhubarb, Green Asparagus, Mâche, and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
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Bovolo
106 Matheson Street
Healdsburg, CA
(707) 431-2962
www.bovolorestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 9am-6pm; Fri-Sun 9am-8pm

Hiding in a bookstore Bovolo may have the appearance of a country store, but don’t let appearances fool you. This is a salumeria, gelateria, enoteca, and pizzeria where everything—including the bacon—is made by hand. As the winners of the Rising Star Sustainability Award, owners and chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes approach everything from an environmentally friendly standpoint: produce comes from their garden, meat is procured locally, and everything, including cardboard boxes, is composted. Their restaurant might be casual, but the food, while rustic, is superb. Breakfast pizza (hangover cure, anyone?) has a bubbly hand-made artisan crust and is topped with a fresh egg from their own chickens. Under the name Black Pig Meat Co., they cure their own meat, and have plans to take their bacon national. Stewart’s curing skills are showcased in the Butcher’s Antipasti Plate, which is a composed multi-component dish full of flavor and texture.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Breakfast Pizza with MacBride Farm Egg
  • Butcher’s Antipasti Plate with House-Cured Meats: Finocchiona (Fennel), Picante (Hot/Spicy), Country-Style Terrine with Thyme, Pickled Vegetables, Roasted Marinated Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, Olives, Asiago Cheese, and Cannellini Beans
Bovolo: Breakfast Pizza with MacBride Farm Egg
+ Click image to enlarge

Café La Haye
140 East Napa Street
Sonoma, CA
(707) 935-5994
www.cafelahaye.com
Hours: Tues-Sat 5:30pm-Closing

Although the dining room at Café La Haye is dual-level, the space is small and intimate. Pale yellow walls with blue accents contrast terra cotta floors, and the arched ceiling displays raw wooden beams. Eclectic art decorates the walls and changes every two months. A bar with dinner seating overlooks the tiny kitchen where Chef Norman Owens, definitely a chef to watch, prepares inviting food with engaging flavor profiles. Pork tenderloin becomes tender when brined in apple cider, and bacon, garlic, fennel, apple, and sweet potato come together to create a dish that is at once homey and stylish.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pan-Seared Wolfe Ranch Quail with Mixed Herb-Sourdough Bread Stuffing over Wilted Escarole with Pine Nuts, Olives, and Capers
  • Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Bacon-Roasted Garlic Sauce and Fennel-Apple Slaw over Sweet Potato Puree
Café La Haye: Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Bacon-Roasted Garlic Sauce and Fennel-Apple Slaw over Sweet Potato Puree
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Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar
The Lodge at Sonoma
1325 Broadway
Sonoma, CA
(707) 931-2042
www.thelodgeatsonoma.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-10pm; Sat-Sun 7am-10pm

Located in The Lodge at Sonoma, Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar has a country modern feel. The walls have been sponge-painted yellow with plum-fuchsia trim, and are broken up by white paneled glass windows. The tables are covered in white tablecloths and the ceilings have exposed wooden beams. Chef Janine Falvo cooks food that is comforting, as in organic game hen that is served three ways: a drumstick wrapped in pancetta; potato-wrapped hen Cordon Bleu with local ham and freshly shaved black truffles on spinach; and a breast of hen resting gently on parsnip puree. Falvo plays on the molecular side with house-made buttered popcorn ice cream, liquefied popcorn that is made into ice cream via liquid nitrogen.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Petaluma Game Hen Three Ways: Pancetta-Wrapped Game Hen Drumstick with Sunchoke and Wild Mushroom Hash; Potato-Wrapped Game Hen Cordon Bleu with Caggiano Ham, Freshly Shaved Black Truffles on Spinach; and Game Hen Breast on Parsnip Puree.
  • House-Made Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream
Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar (at the Lodge at Sonoma): Petaluma Game Hen Three Ways: Pancetta-Wrapped Game Hen Drumstick with Sunchoke and Wild Mushroom Hash; Potato-Wrapped Game Hen Cordon Bleu with Caggiano Ham, Freshly Shaved Black Truffles on Spinach; and Game Hen Breast on Parsnip Puree
+ Click image to enlarge

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Avenue
St. Helena, CA
(707) 963-1200
www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com
Hours: Daily 11:30am-9:30pm

Entering Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, which is always busy and bustling,feels a little like going back in time. The dining room is a study in black and white art deco. Guests sit in simple, modern striped chairs and banquettes, and the walls are decorated with with black and white photographs. Down-home comfort food gets Cindy Pawlcyn’s signature upscale and Latin twists for dishes that are, simply put, delicious. Chef Pablo Jacinto layers flavors in traditional Chicken Tortilla Soup, starting with a tomato-based broth, and followed with smoky peppers and bright lime; cheese and avocado offset the spice and add a creamy quality, while tortillas give a touch of crunch. Simple duck gets a sophisticated makeover when Chef Jacinto brines it overnight, smokes it for two hours, and slow-roasts it so the skin is crispy and the meat is tender.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Wood Oven Duck with Prunes, Armagnac, and Dried Cranberry-Apple Wild Rice
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Wood Oven Duck with Prunes, Armagnac, and Dried Cranberry-Apple Wild Rice
+ Click image to enlarge

Cook
1310 Main Street
St. Helena, CA
(707) 963-7088
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 5pm-10pm

What makes Chef Jude Wilmoth’s food so special is the hand-stamped touch he puts on each and every item on the menu, from the pasta he rolls out by hand to the cheese that he makes himself. Cook, long and narrow in design, is bustling (read: always busy) and inviting, the kind of place where chefs go on their day off. Chef Jude Wilmoth serves simple food done extremely well—the kind that has you coming back for more. A simple preparation of mozzarella and tomatoes becomes addictive with big chunks of cheese over fresh, local oven-roasted tomatoes (roasting is his clever solution to out-of-season tomatoes). Chef Wilmoth’s preparation of Fazzoletti Bolognese with House Ricotta Salata is beyond comforting with a thick, rich meat sauce. You’ll see house-made and hand-made a lot on the menu—artisan quality that speaks for itself.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hand-Made Mozzerella with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Arugula, and Golden Balsamic
  • Fazzoletti Bolongese with House Ricotta Salata
  • Mussels and Clams with House-Made Sausage and Spicy Tomato Broth
Cook: Mussels and Clams with House-Made Sausage and Spicy Tomato Broth
+ Click image to enlarge

Cyrus
29 North Street
Healdsburg, CA
(707) 433-3311
www.cyrusrestaurant.com
Hours: Thur-Mon 5:30pm-9:30pm

Cyrus is a sexy, sophisticated restaurant complete with caviar and Champagne carts that glide by the tables, tempting guests to indulge. Much of the food, in fact, rolls gracefully by on carts, from the bread to the cheese. The chairs are a dark, almost black wood, the dining room has low vaulted ceilings, and photography decorates the walls. They bought the neighboring bakery so the restaurant could begin an in-house bread program. This is a restaurant that is all about details and service, and they are clearly gunning for three Michelin stars. The meal begins with Chef Douglas Keane’s amuse bouches, five bites that represent each of the five tastes: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami. This refined start to the dining experience is an enticing way to begin, meant to whet the appetite and engage the taste buds. Chef Keane continues to deliver for a dinner that is as much about the show and presentation as it is about complex flavors. Silken tofu is prepared tableside by pouring freshly made soy milk into a terrine, which is gracefully presented with kombu, scallions, and yuzu. Sommelier Jim Rollston selects wines and sakes to enhance the experience. Pastry Chef Roy Shvartzapel finishes the meal with desserts that are as polished and tempting as the rest of the meal.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Amuse Bouches: Sweet (Green Cardomom Cream), Bitter (Campari-Glazed Grapefruit and Lime Curd), Sour (Rhubarb Poached in Blood Orange), Salty (Compressed Cucumber, Maldon Sea Salt, Preserved Cherry Blossom), and Umami (Carrot, Edamame, Shiitake, Black Sesame Seeds, and Nori Salad)
  • Thai-Marinated Lobster with Avocado, Mango, and Hearts of Palm
  • Silken Tofu with Kombu, Scallions, and Yuzu
  • Black Bass with Bacon-Braised Cabbage and Pinot Noir Fumet
Cyrus: Thai-Marinated Lobster with Avocado, Mango, and Hearts of Palm
+ Click image to enlarge

Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria
21021 Geyersville Avenue
Geyersville, CA
(707) 814-0111
www.diavolapizzeria.com
Hours: Daily 11:30am-9pm

The large, red wood-burning oven dominates the open kitchen at Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria, commanding attention from the moment you enter the restaurant. As the name suggests, Chef Dino Bugica focuses on house-made pizza and salumi made with deep Italian influences. If you want to see how really good pizza is done, from how to make the dough to what kind of oven to use, check out Diavola. While they have other tasty—and often surprising—dishes, like ox tongue, the stars of the menu are the thin-crusted pizzas, charred and crisp, and the top notch artisan salumi that they create themselves. The Salumi Board with Lardo, Sopresatta di Testa, and Calabrese showcases the chef’s earthy, spicy, salty, well-executed charcuterie. Especially if you’re in the area doing wine tours, it’s definitely worth the drive.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Salumi Board with Lardo, Sopresatta di Testa, and Calabrese
  • Pizza Sonja with Tomato, Mascarpone, Prosciutto, and Arugula
Diavola: Salumi Board with Lardo, Sopresatta di Testa, and Calabrese
+ Click image to enlarge

Dry Creek Kitchen
Hotel Healdsburg
317 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA
(707) 431-0330
www.charliepalmer.com
Hours: Fri-Sun Noon-2:30pm; Sun-Thur 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm

Charlie Palmer’s Sonoma outpost, Dry Creek Kitchen, delivers on all that we’ve come to expect from the culinary star. Bright flowers accent the airy, modern California dining room with striped covered-wood chairs. Chef de Cuisine Les Goodman takes advantage of the seasonal produce and local meats available in the area to cook high quality, tasty food. Sommelier Drew Munro selects wines to match from the impressive wine cellar that includes many local limited edition wines and vintages, with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Butter and Thyme Basted Diver Scallop with Crispy Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly, Pickled Cabbage, and Violet Mustard Gastrique
  • Pan-Seared Pacific Bass with Vegetable Basquaise, "Beluga" Couscous, Preserved Lemon, and Crispy Caper Berries
Dry Creek Kitchen: Butter and Thyme Basted Diver Scallop with Crispy Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly, Pickled Cabbage, and Violet Mustard Gastrique
+ Click image to enlarge

El Dorado Kitchen
El Dorado Hotel
405 First Street
West Sonoma, CA
(707) 996-3030
www.eldoradosonoma.com
Hours: Daily 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-9pm

Located in the El Dorado Hotel, right in downtown Sonoma, El Dorado Kitchen offers clean, modern California-inspired cuisine. The dining room is comfortable with a modern, almost Indonesian style: clean lines, dark wood tables, low wood ceilings, and rattan chairs. Justin Everett, a promising young chef with good technique, creates his menu based on the local produce and his charcuterie program, which he has started from scratch, is definitely one to watch. The colors in Chef Everett’s mache salad jump off the plate, incorporating reds, oranges, yellows, and greens for a dish that tastes as good as it looks. Mixologist James Dick shakes up cocktails that are as attractive as the food, with seductive drinks like the Thin Mint, which looks (and tastes) like a dessert.

Recommended Dishes:

  • El Dorado Artisinal Tour: Cheese, Charcuterie, and Olives
  • Mache Salad: Citrus Supremes, Beet Terrine, Bermuda Triangle Goat Cheese, and Citrus Vinaigrette

Recommended Drinks:

  • Super Fruit Sparkling Martini
  • Thin Mint
El Dorado Kitchen: Mache Salad: Citrus Supremes, Beet Terrine, Bermuda Triangle Goat Cheese, and Citrus Vinaigrette
+ Click image to enlarge

Estate
400 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA
(707) 933-3663
www.estate-sonoma.com
Hours: Daily 5:30pm-9:30pm

The interior of Sondra Berstein and partner Rising Star Restaurateur John Toulze’s Estate is bold and festive. Oversized photographs of Italian film stars hang on dark red walls and paper lanterns hang from the ceiling. Housed in an old Victorian house that used to be part of General Mariano Vallejo’s estate, the restaurant also features a garden out back and a porch that wraps around. Touzle is serious into charcuterie and it’s evidenced in his menu, as in the house-cured salumi plate with various cured meats. Chef de Cuisine Chris Jones helps Toulze run the kitchen, producing simple but highly satisfying dishes.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Pork Osso Bucco with Celery Root Puree, Apples, and Pork Jus
  • House-Cured Salumi Plate with Lardo, Lanzo, Noisette, Genoa, Sopressa Veneta, Traditional Beef and Pork Salumi, Lucca-Style Salumi, and Duck Prosciutto
Estate: House-Cured Salumi Plate with Lardo, Lanzo, Noisette, Genoa, Sopressa Veneta, Traditional Beef and Pork Salumi, Lucca-Style Salumi, and Duck Prosciutto
+ Click image to enlarge

Farm
The Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway
Napa, CA
(707) 299-4880
www.thecarnerosinn.com
Hours: Daily 5:30pm-10pm

Located in the Carneros Inn, Farm lives up to its name serving fresh, farm-to-table ingredient-driven dishes. The spacious dark wood dining room is elegant with high ceilings, an alfresco-style lounge, and outdoor seating beckons in good weather. Chef de cuisine Christophe Gerard is French, and his cooking showcases his classic French technique. In Chef Gerard’s veloute of sunchoke, Gerard cooks the sunchokes in olive oil in a sous vide bath for three hours before sautéing them with cream and milk. The result is a rich, creamy velouté with bacon and celery root accents. Sommelier Gillian Ballance masterfully pairs wines from Farm’s local and international selection. Ballance chose a biodynamic Fume Blanc to go with the velouté of sunchoke, which turned out to be a match made in heaven: the mineral flavors paired with the sunchoke, the acidity cut the creaminess, and the oak notes enhanced the walnut oil.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Goat Cheese and Beets
  • Veloute of Sunchoke with Hazelnut Oil, Bacon, and Celery Leaf
  • Juniper Berry-Marinated Venison Loin with Braised Red Cabbage, Bacon, Comice Pear, Chocolate Sauce, and Black Pepper Oil
Farm (at the Carneros Inn): Goat Cheese and Beets
+ Click image to enlarge

Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant
7871 River Road
Forestville, CA
(707) 887-3300
www.farmhouseinn.com
Hours: Daily 5:30pm-Closing

The Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant is situated in a luxury bed and breakfast inn, but looks like a farmhouse on a farm. The cozy dining room is handsome with frescoes on the ceiling, a wooden chandelier, and tables packed close together. Chef Steve Litke proudly plates up attractive, seasonal dishes with culinary influences ranging from Asian to French, Italian to Californian. Alaskan black cod has an Asian flair with ginger, bok choy, and soy. Rising Star Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth is one of the highlights of a trip to Farmhouse with his ambitious wine pairings. Kruth’s knowledge of wine and local producers is impressive, and his enthusiasm for the wine business is infectious, permeating through the restaurant. Chef Litke’s wonderful black cod was served with an aged sweet Riesling to offset the savory nature of the dish. We were pleasantly surprised to find how naturally this unexpected pair matched.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Alaskan Black Cod with Gingered Gulf Prawns, Sherry Soy Emulsion, Olive Oil Confit Fingerling Potato, Bok Choy, and Pioppini Mushrooms
  • Seared Tenderloin of Buffalo with Chanterelle Mushroom Butter and Bone Marrow Flan
Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant: Alaskan Black Cod with Gingered Gulf Prawns, Sherry Soy Emulsion, Olive Oil Confit Fingerling Potato, Bok Choy, and Pioppini Mushrooms
+ Click image to enlarge

the girl & the fig
110 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA
(707) 938-3634
www.thegirlandthefig.com
Hours: 11:30am-10pm

the girl & the fig is Rising Star Restaurateur John Toulze’s first restaurant with partner Sondra Bernstein. The fun restaurant is sexually charged with suggestive, seductive paintings on the walls and a romantic garden with colorful tablecloths. The bar and the restaurant both fill up fast, and are the kind of place where you want to go and hang out. Toulze and Bernstein are a marketing savvy business duo, who have created a restaurant brand that is a destination in itself, complete with a catering company and branded artisanal products. Toulze lovingly cooks the food, assisted by Chef de Cuisine Chris Jones, as in a hearty dish of Sauteed Maryland Wild Striped Bass with Ragout of Salsify, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Bloomsdale Spinach, and Spinach Vin Blanc. Mixologist Chris Tunstall’s cocktails are a pleasant surprise with the same attention to detail and quality ingredients as is seen through the rest of the menu. The Fig Cocktail, for example, is made with house-made fig liquor, house-infused blueberry vodka, ginger simple syrup, lime, and fresh rosemary blossoms.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sautéed Maryland Wild Striped Bass with Ragout of Salsify, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Bloomsdale Spinach, and Spinach Vin Blanc
  • Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Dungeness Crab, Pear, Brown Butter, and Fines Herbs

Recommended Drinks:

  • Vespa Sidecar
  • Sicilian Rose
  • Fig Cocktail
the girl and the fig: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Dungeness Crab, Pear, Brown Butter, and Fines Herbs
+ Click image to enlarge

Go Fish
641 Main Street St.
Helena, CA
(707) 963-0700
www.gofishrestaurant.net
Hours:
Sun-Thur 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-9:30pm

Cindy Pawlcyn’s newest restaurant, Go Fish, is a cavernous space with a nautical theme. The floors are yellow tile and the blue and white plaid chairs look like dishtowels. There are fish details throughout the design of the restaurant, large tile mosaics of sea creatures, and an impressive-looking raw bar. Sushi master Ken Tominaga developed the sushi and sake menus, while Executive Chef Victor Scargle heads up the rest of the fish-heavy menu. This time around we were there for the pastry, and Pastry Chef Dan Carter creates rustic but elegant desserts with enticing flavor combinations. A generously-sized sweet maple pot de crème, which is served with sour huckleberries and a sugar-dusted house-made croissant. Carter brings creative touches to his pastries that make connections with the rest of the menu, as in the mousse served with cocoa rice crispies, which are made from sushi rice, dried overnight, and fried to puff up like the children’s cereal.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Blackened Salmon Sandwich on House-Made Potato Bun with Aioli, Mixed Greens, Onion Rings, and Shoe String Fries
  • Maple Pot de Crème with Huckleberries and House-Made Croissant
  • Milk Chocolate Hazelnut and Caramel Mousse with Hazelnut Doughnuts and Cocoa Crispies
Go Fish: Maple Pot de Crème with Huckleberries and House-Made Croissant
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JoLē
1457 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA
(707) 942-5938
www.jolerestaurant.com
Hours: Tues-Thur, Sun 5pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm

If you are searching for inspiration on how to infuse soul into your cooking, then look no further than JoLē. Husband-and-wife team Matt and Sonjia Spector sold a successful restaurant in Philadelphia to try their luck in quieter, calmer Wine Country. With Matt at the helm in the kitchen and Sonjia in charge of desserts, JoLē is a restaurant brimming with heart and soul. Rising Star Chef Matt Spector takes unusual cuts of meat and flavor combinations and produces well-executed, highly satisfying small dishes with a Mediterranean bent. Lamb’s tongue is not the most common menu item, and fresh chick peas are even rarer: together, they create a superb dish with contrasting textures and complementary flavors. Pastry Chef Sonjia Spector finishes the meal with her satisfying classic confections, like turnovers prepared with pears.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Lamb Tongue with Fresh Chick Peas, Chili, Feta, Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
  • Swordfish with Wood Oven-Roasted Eggplant, Spiced Raisins, Almonds, and Capers
  • Chicken Fried Veal Sweetbreads with Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole
  • Anjou Pear and Almond Turnovers with Vanilla Ice Cream and Honey Sauce
JoLe: Swordfish with Wood Oven-Roasted Eggplant, Spiced Raisins, Almonds, and Capers
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La Toque
Westin Verasa Napa
1314 McKinstry Street
Napa, California
(707) 257-5157
www.latoque.com
Hours: 5:30pm-Close

Ken Frank’s La Toque, situated in the Westin right in downtown Napa, is clean, bright, and modern. A chefs table is set-up right in the middle of the kitchen for those who want to eat and watch the action. Chef Frank carefully contrasts flavors and textures with great success. He serves dayboat scallops with squid ink pearl tapioca, which roll playfully on the tongue. The squid ink and scallop embody the flavor of the sea, and the creamy hollandaise sauce manages to pull the dish together. Rising Star Sommelier Yoon Ha has a soothing, gentle tableside manner as he walks you through La Toque’s extensive wine list. Our favorite pairing was a Sonoma Pinot Noir Served with the Seared Artisan Foie Gras. As with all of Ha’s wine pairings, we were surprised by the selection (Pinot Noir and foie are not a pairing we see every day) and not disappointed. Although there was no fruit in the dish, the wine provided jam, and since there is no acid in the dish, the wine had to be equally low acid to match. The voluptuous texture and soft structure of the wine wholeheartedly complemented the rich, luxurious foie. And don’t leave without sampling Rebecca Willis’ desserts. Hazlenut tuilles with dark chocolate, orange, and cardamom flavors, for example, are presented as elegant, sweet sandwiches.   

Recommended Dishes:

  • Dayboat Sea Scallop with Squid Ink Pearl Tapioca and Hollandaise
  • Seared Artisan Foie Gras with Broiled Freshwater Eel, Sweet Soy, and Forbidden Rice
  • Hazlenut Tuilles with Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Mandarin Orange Cardamom Sherbet, Candied Mandarin Oranges, and Mandarin Sauce
La Toque: Seared Artisan Foie Gras with Broiled Freshwater Eel, Sweet Soy, and Forbidden Rice
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Madrona Manor
1001 Westside Road
Healdsburg, CA
(800) 258-4003
www.madronamanor.com
Hours: Wed-Sun 6pm-9pm

The restaurant at Madrona Manor is housed in a Victorian-looking inn, cozily appointed with red carpeting and walls, a regal fireplace, and plush floral chairs. Dinner is served by romantic candlelight and diners are welcome to stroll through the surrounding gardens. Rising Star Hotel Chef Jesse Mallgren serves inventive New Californian cuisine that is far more modern than the style of the restaurant would let on. Onion velouté evokes French onion soup, but is topped with an egg cooked in its shell for 45 minutes and a parmesan foam. The flavors are simple, elegant, and well-balanced. Sommelier Joseph Bain serves wine to match from their list, made up of local wines from the surrounding areas. Carte a Glace is theatrically churned and served tableside using minus 320°F nitrogen. It’s not only fun to watch, but is also a rich, smooth, and satisfying end to the meal.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Onion Veloute with Banyuls Vinegar, 63°C Egg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Liberty Farms Duck: Roasted Breast and Crisped Confit with Caraway, Spring Onion, and Beet
  • Cart “à Glace”: Ice Cream Sundae Hand "Churned" Tableside using -320°F Nitrogen with Chocolate Sauce, Almonds, Whipped Cream, and Cherries
Madrona Manor: Liberty Farms Duck: Roasted Breast and Crisped Confit with Caraway, Spring Onion, and Beet
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The Martini House
1245 Spring Street
St. Helena, CA
(707) 963-2233
www.martinihouse.com
Hours: Fri-Sun 11:30am-3pm; Sun-Thur 5:30pm-9pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm

Once the private home of an opera singer and prohibition-era bootlegger, The Martini House was built in 1923 and turned into a restaurant by Pat Kuleto and Chef Todd Humphries in 2001. The space feels like a lodge, and has a welcoming and warm vibe, and upholstered, Native-American style chairs. There is a bustling bar downstairs and lovely courtyard dining. This time around we only tasted Pastry Chef Jennifer Archer’s desserts, but they were worth the trip alone. Meyer lemon crepes are filled with velvety lemon curd and served with sweet-tart candied kumquats and vanilla crème fraiche to cut the acid.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Chocolate Custard Cake with Espresso Mascarpone and Salted Caramel Ganache
  • Meyer Lemon Crepes with Candied Kumquats and Crème Fraiche
The Martini House: Meyer Lemon Crepes with Candied Kumquats and Crème Fraiche
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Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, CA
(800) 458-8080
www.meadowood.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm

The interior of The Restaurant at Meadowood is spacious and comfortable with an octagonal ceiling. Whether you’re in the dining room, the bar, the Grill Room, or the patio, the ambiance is light and airy with tables at a generous distance from one another. The small space is adorned with spectacular flowers and greenery that bring the outside in, and the service is understated in the best way: attentive but not overbearing. Rising Star Chef Christopher Kostow, creates elegant, sophisticated food that fits with the surroundings (a focus on local, seasonal California cuisine). His food is simplistic, not simple, combining just a few flavors that go together in a big way. Fluke is carrot top-crusted and plated with bright touches of pineapple, ginger, and carrot espuma for a colorful dish that demonstrates Chef Kostow’s stellar technique and his ability to marry different textures and tastes into a cohesive, inventive, artfully presented dish. Choose from a seasonal four-course price fixe or the eight-course chef’s tasting menu, both available with wine pairings carefully chosen by their talented sommelier, Rom Toulon.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Foie Gras Three Ways with Grape and Peanut
  • Carrot Top-Crusted Fluke with Pineapple, Ginger, and Carrot Espuma       
  • Poached Poussin with Chestnut, Apple, and Parsnip
  • Mushroom Consommé served in a cup with a Teabag of Dried Mushrooms
Restaurant at Meadowood: Carrot Top-Crusted Fluke with Pineapple, Ginger, and Carrot Espuma
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Mustard’s Grill
7399 St. Helena Highway
Napa, CA
(707) 944-2424
www.mustardsgrill.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 11:30am-9pm; Fri 11:30am-10pm; Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 11am-9pm

Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustard’s Grill is a rustic restaurant that has been a Napa institution since 1983. It has the feel of a roadside diner with a friendly bar that is always busy, even at lunch. Wine industry locals come here for business power-lunches where they enjoy the hearty, comforting, well-executed cuisine. When we were there, representatives from all the major wineries were scattered around the dining room conducting business. Latin flavors influence the American cuisine with ingredients like avocados, tomatillos, chilies, and cilantro. Quail is flavored with chipotle and garlic, and house-made tortillas are filled with lobster meat and salsa. Twenty percent of the produce comes from the restaurant’s two-acre garden, which also serves as the inspiration for much of the comfort-food menu.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Sweet Corn Tamale with Avocado, Tomatillo Salsa, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Soon-To-Be-Famous Lobster Tacos with Fresno Chilies, Warm Tortillas, and Cilantro Salsa
  • Grilled Chipotle-Garlic Quail with Yalumba Musem Muscat and Crispy Shoestring Potaoes
Mustard’s Grill: Grilled Chipotle-Garlic Quail with Yalumba Musem Muscat and Crispy Shoestring Potaoes
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Restaurant Eloise
2295 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA
(707) 823-6300
www.restauranteloise.com
Hours: Mon, Wed-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm; Mon, Wed-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm

Restaurant Eloise may have ended up in Sebastopol, CA, but Rising Star Chefs Eric Korsh and Ginevra Iverson originally hoped to open a restaurant in Brooklyn. High rents drove them out West, and now the husband and wife team couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Korsch and Iverson, who both have experience at New York’s Picholine and Prune, cook traditional French food (with very modern twists) served on vintage plates in a bistro setting. Classics, like cassoulet, are prepared impeccably. And we absolutely fell in love with the earthy Mushroom Toast with Poached Egg, Black Truffle, and Bordelaise Sauce, which can only be described as luscious and hedonistic.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Cassoulet of Duck Confit, Pork Belly, Beef and Garlic Sausage, and Tarbais Beans
  • Mushroom Toast with Poached Egg, Black Truffle, and Bordelaise Sauce
  • Salt Cod Crudo with Cara Cara Oranges and Bitter Greens
Restaurant Eloise: Salt Cod Crudo with Cara Cara Oranges and Bitter
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Solbar
755 Silverado Trail
Calistoga, CA
(707) 226-0850
www.solagecalistoga.com
Hours: Daily 7am-3pm; 5pm-11pm

Solbar is hip and modern with high ceilings, sleek wooden tables, sexy walnut chairs, concrete floors, and a spectacular fireplace. The design is Danish or Scandinavian in feel and definitely noteworthy. With an emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients and healthy but satisfying food, Chef Brandon Sharp, who has trained under some of the country’s top chefs (Thomas Keller, Gary Danko, and John Besh, to name a few) produces food that is deceptively simple and often playful. Lucky Pig is a dish for two that encourages the diners to get involved, pulling apart the slow-roasted pork shoulder and stuffing it in a lettuce cup or black sesame crepe along with accoutrements like pickled pineapple and Mongolian peanuts. The Bacon and Egg Salad is a clever take on the breakfast classic, with a poached egg balancing atop frisee and pork belly.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Bacon and Egg Salad with Scarborough Frisee, Mustard Vinaigrette, Crispy Pork Belly, and Poached Egg
  • Lucky Pig: Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Black Sesame Crepes, Pickled Pineapple, Mongolian Peanuts, and Lettuce Cups
Solbar: Bacon and Egg Salad with Scarborough Frisee, Mustard Vinaigrette, Crispy Pork Belly, and Poached Egg
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Taylor’s Automatic Refresher
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA
(707) 963-3486
www.taylorsautomaticrefresher.com
Hours: Daily 10:30am-9pm


644 First Street
Napa, CA
(707) 224-6900
www.taylorsautomaticrefresher.com
Hours: Daily 10:30am-9pm

It’s hard not to fall in love with Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. Winner of the Rising Stars Concept Award, Duncan Gott wanted to start a restaurant with the kind of food he enjoyed: fast food, but with high quality ingredients. With a good dose of nostalgia, Gott gives modern touches to comfort food, as in fries that are tossed in garlic butter and parsley. Fish and chips are perfectly crisp and the cheeseburger has an addictive secret sauce that Duncan will not reveal (trust us, we’ve tried). Gott is sustainability-minded as well: all the containers are 100% compostable and melt in the sun, the menus are printed on recycled paper, and they stock recycled toilet paper and paper towels.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Fish Taco
  • Cheeseburger
  • Garlic Fries
  • Fish and Chips
Taylor’s Automatic Refresher: Cheeseburger
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Ubuntu
1140 Main Street
Napa, CA
(707) 251-5656
www.ubuntunapa.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 5:30pm-9pm; Fri-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; Sun 5:30pm-9pm

One of the hottest restaurants in the region, Ubuntu is run by a dynamic duo, husband and wife Rising Star team Chef Jeremy Fox and Pastry Chef Deanie Hickox-Fox. The polished, ultra-modern restaurant is connected to a yoga studio and while it might be a vegetarian restaurant, don’t expect to find any meat substitutes here. Chef Fox, not even a vegetarian himself, makes vegetables (mostly from their biodynamic garden) the hearty centerpieces of the menu. His dishes are colorful, bright, and amazingly fresh. Pot au feu, the traditional French beef stew, gets a vegetarian redux with the unusual and alluring combination of garden vegetables, homemade fregola, caramelized onion consommé, Bordeaux spinach, and leek ash. Pastry Chef Hickox-Fox creates vivid desserts and palate cleansers that offer continuity from the rest of the meal, as in sunchoke ice cream that is creamy and balanced between sweet and salty.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Beets with Fork-Crushed Avocado, Pistachio Oil, Ruby Grapefruit, Minutina, and Pepper
  • Pot au Feu of Garden Vegetables and Homemade Fregola with Caramelized Onion Consommé, Bordeaux Spinach, and Leek Ash
  • Meyer Lemon and White Chocolate Parfait with Winter Citrus, Rose Geranium Meringue, and Pomegranate
  • Sunchoke Ice Cream
  • Vanilla Bean “Cheesecake” in a Jar
Ubuntu: Beets with Fork-Crushed Avocado, Pistachio Oil, Ruby Grapefruit, Minutina, and Pepper
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Zazu Restaurant and Farm
3535 Guerneville Road
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 523-4814
www.zazurestaurant.com
Hours: Wed-Sun 5:30-Close

Zazu is a casual restaurant with bare wooden floors, a long copper counter that overlooks the bustling kitchen, and low ceilings. Although it may have the feeling of a cozy diner, the food is so much more. The signature charcuterie of Rising Star Sustainability Chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes is present as always, as in a salumi made with black truffle and free-range heritage pork. When we went in the summer we had Cucumber Gazpacho with Tomato, Watermelon, and Shiso. This creamy, refreshing, and bright dish had just the right touch of sweetness. As always, Chefs Stewart and Estes draw the inspiration for their menu from their garden and the seasonally available produce (which means of course that the dishes we so enjoyed are likely not to be on the menu).

Recommended Dishes:

  • Free-Range Heritage Pork Salumi with Black Truffle
  • Cucumber Gazpacho with Tomato, Watermelon, and Shiso
Zazu: Cucumber Gazpacho with Tomato, Watermelon, and Shiso
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Bardessono Hotel
6526 Yount Street
Yountville, CA
(707) 204-6000
www.bardessono.com
Rooms start at $450

The plain façade of LEED-certified Bardessono is deceiving; inside is a luxury hotel with a serious focus on community and sustainability. The design is stark, but also sleek and beautiful with a certain yogic calm. Vertical gardens can be found throughout the property, and single rocks wade in ponds, lending a Japanese feel. They Bardessono goes beyond composting food waste and recycling: they don’t have a single piece of plastic in the guest rooms, there are no paper bills, and there are no curtains (instead they have electric, external shades that come down automatically depending on time of day and temperature). There’s not a single rug in the complex in order to reduce and prevent allergens. put 300-count organic linens on the beds, and rather than a chocolate on your pillow they have a flavored chef’s water awaiting you in a reusable glass milk bottle. Bardessono also has all the amenities of a luxury hotel, including an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, spa services, organic bath products, and a restaurant led by Chef Sean O’Toole.

The Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway
Napa, CA
(707) 299-4900
www.thecarnerosinn.com
Rooms start at $530

Set amongst 27 acres of vineyards and farmland, The Carneros Inn is a luxury resort with a country feel. This is a modern complex that has been planned in a grid, but it has a spacious, friendly feel. There are various size cottages, like studios and one-bedrooms that are all slightly different; some boast a porch while others have backyards. There are two infinity-edge pools with hot tubs (one is adults-only while the other welcomes families), full spa services, a bocce court, fitness classes, complimentary bicycles, an upscale general store, and three restaurants to choose from. Use the complimentary concierge service to plan activities from horseback riding to wine tastings.

Coloma Country Inn
345 High Street
Coloma, CA
(530) 622-6919
www.colomacountryinn.com
Rooms start at $150

On your way to Napa and Sonoma, make a stop at the Coloma Country Inn, a small bed and breakfast located on two and a half acres of land. The rooms are all named after flowers: We stayed in the Rose Room, where the sheets and wallpaper were decorated with roses and there was a private patio garden full of roses. The décor is shabby chic and rooms have clawfoot tubs. It is located in Coloma, where the first gold in the US was mined. Everything in the town centers around gold--the state park, museums, gold tours, you name it. It also happens to be the center of white water rafting for the South Fork of the American River.

The Honor Mansion
14891 Grove Street
Healdsburg, CA
(800) 554-4664
www.honormansion.com
Rooms start at $230

Honor Mansion is a magnificent bed and breakfast owned by a husband and wife team who purchased the Honor Estate from Dr. Honor 15 years ago and then renovated it. Somewhere between a B&B and a resort (they wanted to create an "un-B&B" and break all the rules), the Honor Mansion offers all the amenities of a luxury hotel in an intimate setting. The rooms are self-contained suites with beautiful stonework done by the owners. Each suite has a private garden, hot tub, fireplace, and sunken tub. Old World games, like croquet and bocce ball, are available, as well as basketball, tennis, swimming, golf, and jogging trails. There is a connecting vineyard as well as a vegetable garden and a rose garden. In the morning we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of Grand Marnier Stuffed French Toast with fresh fruit bellinis.

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa
1325 Broadway
Sonoma, CA
(707) 935-6600
www.thelodgeatsonoma.com
Rooms start at $249

At The Lodge at Sonoma, a Marriot property, guests have a choice between cottage and lodge rooms. Most rooms have queen or king beds, a fireplace, and a balcony. There is a wellness center, a spa, and a large, inviting outdoor pool. Grab a glass of wine and a snack at the Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar or relax with a cup of Joe in the fireside coffee bar. Or visit the Cellar Door Tasting Room, where small, family wineries pour samples of their small-production wines for you to taste.

Meadowood Hotel
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, CA
(707) 963-3646
www.meadowood.com
Rooms start at $450

Whether you stay in a studio room or a suite, you’re guaranteed luxury at Meadowood Hotel. It’s ideally situated to explore Wine Country and is comfortable for long stays (we felt as though we never wanted to leave). Started as a private club in 1964, Meadowood was purchased in 1979 and turned into the hotel and resort that it is today. The white-washed cottages are reminiscent of Nantucket, except they are tucked into the woods instead of the beach. Croquet, tennis, golf, hiking, and swimming are all at your fingertips in the sprawling 250-acre valley where Meadowood is located. Paths meander through hills and forests, and you could get lost wandering around the sprawling property. Fix the damage winter (and long hours in the kitchen) have done to your skin at the spa, where you can indulge in body wraps, exfoliation, and massages. Rising Star Chef Christopher Kostow cooks seasonal, creative food that is worth the stay (and the trip) alone.


 
 
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  • Napa Sonoma Rising Stars 2009
  • Napa Sonoma Why They Shine
  • Letter From the Editor: Vol. 38
  • Letter From the Editor: Vol. 36

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