Wine grapes may not grow on the rock cliffs that line the Pacific Coast of Bodega Bay, a charming Sonoma County fishing village, and seagulls are more common than vineyard hawks, but that doesn’t mean a wine lover risks going thirsty.
Bodega Bay restaurants feature primarily local wines, and thanks to a gem of a wine store, filling your personal cellar is as easy as one-stop shopping.
Since 1995, Gourmet au Bay on Highway 1 has kept locals and visitors well quaffed, with an impressive collection of local wines hand selected from Sonoma County wineries. There are two rules: Each wine must be boutique, produced in 1,000 cases or less, and designated 90-plus points or bear a gold medal award.
In a salute to the shop’s seaside location, instead of simple tastings, guests embark on “wine surfing,” where they choose three wines from daily menu, and receive two-ounce pours placed on a little wooden surfboard. Wines can be sipped on the deck overlooking the bay, and paired with optional cheese and crackers.
When you find the wines you favor, you can purchase a full glass or a bottle, and in nice, neighborly touch, the store owners Bob and Sissy Blanchard will point you to area restaurants that waive their corkage fee for customers bearing Gourmet au Bay bottles.
Many guests also grab a bottle to-go for their own picnics, filling their food baskets with gourmet cheeses and charcuterie from the on-site gift shop and deli. Sometimes the taco truck parks there, too.
Here’s another local secret: Periodically, the wine store hosts its own dinners, such a Saturday night burger feasts, and “Feature a Farm” dinners, where purveyors like Salmon Creek Ranch are celebrated in full menus such as heirloom Jenner tomatoes in apple cider reduction, crispy duck sausage wrapped duck eggs, salmon chowder, duck fat fries, and crispy duck confit.
Details: Gourmet au Bay, 913 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-9875, gourmetaubay.com