Sonoma County’s rich agricultural heritage is alive and well. Throughout the county, in all sorts of terrain, family farms and artisanal growers are creating agricultural products that reflect their own unique terroir.
And thanks to the county’s vibrant approach to agri-tourism, residents and visitors alike can enrich a beautiful country drive with adventurous and educational stops at local farms.
Depending on your choice, you and your family could pick produce, pet sheep and goats, milk a cow, learn how to irrigate a field, or take a cooking class. Some adventures are free, while others carry a fee that helps supplement the farm’s income.
It’s easy to plan your trip if you use the free and downloadable map and guide provided by the non-profit Sonoma County Farm Trails, devoted to keeping a strong bond between the grower and the eater (you!).
Member farms/producers of the organization are listed and described, along with days and times they’re open for visits, and other pertinent information. Some farm visits are only by appointment.
Maps are included for eight different geographic regions, allowing you to visit farms in a specific area — along the Russian River or the Pacific Coast, for example.
Take the 90-minute tour at Petaluma’s McClelland’s Dairy Farm and you’ll learn about the family-owned farm’s history (it dates back to 1938), get to pet calves, tour a pasture, visit the milking parlor, and enjoy a sample of organic artisan butter. Visit the online shop.
Visit the Bear Foot Honey tasting room in Santa Rosa — owned by third-generation beekeepers — and you can experience the difference between, say, mint-thistle and raspberry honey. All honeys here are unpasteurized, unfiltered, unprocessed, and unblended, and you can also pick up fresh bee pollen, pure beeswax candles, and more. Visit the online shop.
Or buzz by the Sebastopol farm stand of Bloomfield Bees to pick up fresh, unheated, unfiltered gourmet chunk, creamed or raw honey — along with Royal Jelly honey straws, bee-based beauty products (soap, lip butter, hand salves), beeswax decorations and much more. Visit the online shop.
Tour the grounds of Petaluma’s rose-filled Garden Valley Ranch, producer of Garden Roses (grown totally outdoors). You’ll marvel over floral sights such as the 220-foot-long by 14-foot-wide display border, edged in local stone and containing roses, perennials, shrubs, and annuals arranged in color sequence as in the Gertrude Jekyll style of old. Buy plants and gift certificates online.
And on certain weekends throughout the year, Sebastopol’s Redwood Hill Farm — a goat dairy farm and creamery — offers farm tours, artisan cheesemaking tours, and a cultured dairy tour. Redwood Hill Farm produces award-winning handmade artisan cheeses, including chevre, feta, and crottin, as well as goat milk yogurt and kefir. Visit the online shop.
You can also visit farms for produce in season. Buy peaches at Dry Creek Peach & Produce in the Dry Creek Valley, apples and pumpkins at Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol, and just about anything at Sonoma’s Oak Hill Farm, Petaluma’s Green String Farm, or Windsor’s Farm Stand at Tierra.
There are many, many more farm adventures awaiting you in Sonoma County. Have fun — and bon appétit!
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez