Asian American and Pacific Islander Owned Businesses in Sonoma County

Asian-Americans have long been a part of Sonoma County’s history. Chinese immigrants actually built Sonoma County’s first tasting room and wine caves over a century ago, using techniques from the California railroad. The workers also farmed the vineyards, playing a vital role in improving wine quality in the fields. We have them to thank for helping build Sonoma County into the destination it is today, and therefore pay tribute to their amazing contributions and celebrate the AAPI community that is a part of the Sonoma County tapestry.

Below, you’ll find just a taste of the amazing community of Asian American and Pacific Islander businesses, winemakers, chefs, artists, and more. Check back as we continue to update this list of AAPI hospitality businesses and makers.

Restaurants & Culinary

Mason Lin immigrated to Sonoma County 20 years ago to work with his uncle in the restaurant business. Today he runs multiple Sonoma County restaurants. Three years ago Lin opened Ippinn Udon & Tempura in Santa Rosa, where guests can enjoy freshly made noodles. Recently, Lin and his partner opened Ippinn Sushu & Ramen, the first conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Sonoma County.

Picture of person reaching for sushi with chopsticks

Just south of Santa Rosa, in Rohnert Park, Ken Tominaga, chef and owner of Hana Japanese, uses local Sonoma County produce and the highest quality fish in his food. After growing up in Tokyo, Ken moved to Santa Rosa after graduation to help with his family, only to return to Japan to attend Akasaka Cooking School. Since returning to Northern California he’s made a name for himself,  adapting the secrets of sushi masters with his own style, leading Hana to be one of the Bay Area’s leading Japanese restaurants.

The Asian American culinary influence continues in Northern Sonoma County. Nozomu (Nez) Tokugawa, executive chef of Taste of Tea in Healdsburg, prepares authentic Japanese food using ingredients locally and from Japan. In addition to the menu of ramen, rice bowls, and noodles, Taste of Tea also offers adult tea cocktails, loose leaf tea, sake and beer.

In Sebastopol, discover Radical Family Farms, which grows and sells specialty produce to chefs and restaurants, and has a CSA box program. Inspired by her Taiwanese-Chinese and Polish-German heritage, farm owner Leslie Wiser and her partner Sarah Deragon run the farm, growing vegetables like bittermelon and kohlrabi, which are unlike many other vegetables grown in Sonoma County.

picture of family standing together in field
Photo by Emmalaine Berry

Then in Healdsburg, visitors can enjoy delicious peaches from Gayle Okumura Sullivan’s Dry Creek Peach farm at either their Dry Creek Valley farmstand, local restaurants, or farmers’ market. Their peaches are organic, tree ripened and hand-picked during the summer harvest season.

Wine

Sonoma is home to a number of Asian Amerian winemaker and winery owners. Growing up in India, Anisya Fritz founded Lynmar Estate with her husband in Sebastopol. In addition to celebrated wines, their culinary program menu boasts spectacular produce gathered from the edible plants throughout the estate.

Also in Sebastopol is Freeman Vineyard & Winery. Akiko Freeman, born and raised in Tokyo, founded Freeman Vineyard & Winery with her husband in 2001. The boutique winery offers cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay tastings in the wine cave. Akiko’s organically farmed wines are inspired by her grandfather’s affinity for Burgundy wine.

Picture of Asian American woman standing beside vineyards holding wine glass

In Petaluma, Yun Chu and her husband, Ron Noble, create a welcoming environment at Ron Noble Wines. Chu, born in South Korea to Chinese parents, speaks fluently in English, Mandarin Chinese and Korean, and spent many years in the food and restaurant business. She and her husband have traveled extensively and enjoy meeting people from all over the world.

Another Asian-owned Petaluma winery is Azari Vineyard. Born in Shiraz, Iran, Dr. Kamal Y. Azari was one of the founding members of the Iranian Studies Association at UC Berkeley. Along with his wife Parichehr, the family founded Azari Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap in 1988, specializing in small lots of Sonoma Coast estate wine, including award-winning Pinot Noir and cool-climate Shiraz.

At the intersection of winemaking and craft distilling is Barber Lee Spirits, where Aaron Lee is distiller and co-founder. A San Francisco entrepreneur, Aaron Lee knew the Barbers, Lorraine and Michael, for their wine, which focused on single vineyard, organically grown grapes. But after tasting their whiskey, Aaron knew they had something special, and so shortly after, Barber Lee Spirits was formed, dedicated to the art of traditional distilling.

Artists

The Asian American and Pacific Islander influence extends to Sonoma County’s art scene. Relocated from San Francisco’s Chinatown to Healdsburg, Legion Projects features the work on Asian American artists Adrian and Chelsea Wong in their collective. While in Santa Rosa, mid-century modern Flamingo Resort showcases a variety of artists throughout their newly renovated property, including a custom piece by Windy Chein, called the Diamond Ring, in the ballroom lobby.

Small Business Owners

Botany Zhi, a newly opened indoor plant jungle in downtown Santa Rosa, features rare indoor plants grown by Lewis Deng, who moved to the city with his husband during the pandemic. From the province of Chengdu, Lewis began growing indoor houseplants when his mother was diagnosed with cancer to provide an oasis of healing. What began as a passion has grown into a beautiful boutique in Santa Rosa.

In downtown Petaluma, fourth-generation Sonoma County resident, Japanese acupuncturist, and Traditional Chinese Herbalist Erin Wilkins opened Herb Folk in 2016. In addition to owning the herb shop and clinic rooted in old-school Asian traditions, Erin, a proud Asian American, educates her community with Adrian Chang through a virtual workshop entitled Asian American Folk Traditions.

Picture of woman standing in boutique shop
Photo of Erin Wilkins by Sarah Deragon

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