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Romantic Ideas for Valentines in Sonoma County

There’s little more romantic than Wine Country year-round, but in February, Cupid sharpens his arrow and takes straight aim for your heart – it’s Valentine’s Day, after all, and the sassy little matchmaker does everything he can to bring more happy couples together.

He’s got an easy assignment, since there is so much to do in Sonoma County that inspires togetherness. Maybe you want to gaze into that special someone’s eyes over a romantic restaurant supper, or perhaps you want the thrill of soaring hearts in a zip line adventure soaring over redwoods. A couples’ day at spa beckons, as does a private retreat in an oh-so-cozy Wine Country inn.

So fire up your love machines, and get you and your beloved to these gems.

EAT

Madrona Manor, Healdsburg

The historic 1881 Victorian mansion that houses the restaurant is also an Inn, lovingly restored by Manor owners Bill and Trudi Konrad. The eight acres of meticulously landscaped gardens and wooded grounds are home to 18 rooms/suites with fireplaces, and some with large balconies or decks. So the restaurant itself is nearly a secret, run by executive chef Jesse Mallgren in an exquisite setting of crisp white linens, fine silver, china and candlelight in five intimate, parlor-style rooms. The New Californian-Global cuisine changes with the seasons, but some signatures include roasted brassica with estate persimmon, pickled cippollini, and charred onions sauce; pumpkin risotto with Alba truffles; and roast squab breast and confit thigh with barley and kale. The wine list is exceptional.

K&L Bistro, Sebastopol

This magical little spot was recently expanded in order to serve its many fans, but hasn’t lost an inch of its charm. The setting is bistro, down to white linens, and the service is old-school delightful, meaning it’s attentive, friendly, and professional, without being obtrusive. The food is elegant but Wine Country approachable, offering seasonal and local fare such as house-made crab cakes, fresh oysters, and house made charcuterie. New to the menu are chef-caliber craft cocktails, more wood-fired grill items, a greater variety of craft beers, and an expanded raw bar. And it all adds up to a dreamy place to gaze into each other’s eyes — more oysters, please?

Terrapin Creek Café, Bodega Bay 

This charming, Slow Food-style destination comes from chef-owners Andrew Truong (formerly sous chef at Bacar), and his wife, Liya Lin (previously a cook at Ducca and Michael Mina). Set in a relaxed but stunningly chic space in the quiet ocean town of Bodega Bay, the cuisine wows with the finest ingredients in inventive pairings. That might include artfully arranged cold crab salad with the seafood plucked straight from the sea outside, or panko crusted crab over green lentils and sautéed cabbage with roasted mushrooms, currants and curry oil. Simplicity shines, for recipes like a Fuyu persimmon and prosciutto salad with mixed lettuces, toasted almonds and goat cheese in tart cherry vinaigrette, yet the kitchen revs things up, too, with more complex dishes like homemade pappardelle pasta tossed with braised beef oxtail, Swiss chard, caramelized onions, and Parmesan. In a friendly touch, the restaurant also serves lunch.

PLAY

Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental

“You take my breath away.” You can say that to your honey, but also to your zip line instructor, as he or she straps you into the gear and Go Camera you’ll wear for this high-speed scream through space. That’s because hidden away off Bohemian Highway is a zip line course waiting to wing you up to 25 miles per hour through a redwood forest, over a ravine 300-feet below, and along a creek. Part of the challenge is just getting to the jump canopies, since eleven different platforms test your clambering skills, too, daring you to scale a skinny spiral staircase 30 feet up, and wobble across a 175-foot-long sky bridge. And when all is done, you’ll fall… straight into the arms of your new spouse, sharing the thrill of the zip.

J Winery Bubble Lounge, Healdsburg

What’s more romantic and playful than wine tasting, especially when the wine is sparkling wine? And this luxury destination spot is so much more than just tasting, it’s a true adventure. The newly renovated and expanded Bubble Lounge at J Winery is a delight to behold, glittering with hand-blown glass bubble chandeliers, and a décor of beautiful gray and cream furnishings plus a giant window overlooking the gardens. New chef and former Mea345555dwood talent Carl Shelton crafts five course feasts paired with sparkling or still wines or a combination of both, for artful dishes like pheasant with black truffle, grilled beets over black quinoa, and many delightful amuse bouches.

Restaurant Week March 6-12, 2017

Give your special someone a list of the hundreds of restaurants offering fantastic meals at bargain prices all during the eighth annual Sonoma County Restaurant Week. Hand him or her a highlighter. Together, mark up all the fabulous places you’d like to dine at, and voila, you’ve got an entire Valentine’s worthy week. This is a great time to explore new dining options or enjoy old favorites, and build many more romantic memories.

 

LOVE

Timber Cove Inn, Jenner

The new Timber Cove Inn is a romantic oasis, even more so than before. For 56 years now, the resort has been a coastal gem, as a secluded lodge and restaurant tucked on the very cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Jenner. Yet in 2016, it got even better. An extensive remodeling turned what was somewhat rustic into pure luxury, and added a fantastic new restaurant known as the Coast Kitchen. What better reason to make the long, winding and impossibly scenic drive up California Highway 1, and stay over, of course, in the new, elegant rooms? The 46 rooms and suites are captivating with natural boulder rock protrusions coming through the walls, ocean and cliff views from private balconies, and salon touches like mini fridges stocked with complimentary beer and snacks. Give the in-room turntable a spin, too – vinyl records are stocked in the shelves. Some suites boast fireplaces, the perfect place for sipping sparkling with your sweetie.

Landmark Vineyards Cottage, Kenwood

Have you ever dreamed of having your own vineyard? This is the next best thing, with two private cottages tucked on the edge of the vines of an award-winning estate. Nestled in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, the charming guest suite bungalow offers a king-size bed, private patio, and fireplace, while the one-bedroom farmhouse features a cozy kitchen, sunny sitting room, bath, and laundry facilities. Both are detailed in rustic-luxury farm style, with amenities like continental breakfast, a bottle of Overlook Chardonnay, and an estate tour and tasting. 

Valentine Weekend Escape, February 10-12, 2017

Grab your special someone and join the Mazzocco Winery team in Downtown Healdsburg at the beautiful Grape Leaf Inn for an intimate Valentine Weekend Escape. The itinerary is secret and super romantic – but email them for more details

Looking to pop the question in Sonoma County

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