You can drive all the way through Valley Ford (pop. 147) in western Sonoma County in less than five minutes, which doesn’t leave much space for wineries, or wine tasting rooms. The town spans just 2.6 miles, but that doesn’t mean that the little burg doesn’t celebrate its Wine Country location.
For more than 60 years, the family-owned Valley Ford Market (14400 Coast Highway 1, Valley Ford, 707-876-3245) has been catering to its residents and also the many tourists passing through on their way to Bodega in the west or Sebastopol and Petaluma in the east. Which means the market carries lots of lovely, local wine.
This is a farmers and ranchers’ grocery, so you’ll find pretty much everything you could need, whether it’s PVC plumbing fixtures, wading boots, fishing tackle, or a superb bottle of sparkling wine and a picnic basket brimming with homemade sausages, home smoked salmon, fresh daily soups, and a glorious meatloaf sandwich on white bread with mayo, tomato and lettuce.
The wines showcase the area’s boutique reds, whites, and rosés, plus larger local stars like Korbel. Many of the wines are made by the store's western Sonoma County neighbors, so the store staff can often suggest the best pairing for your selected meal, like their best-selling tri-tip sandwich stacked with mayo, onions, and Swiss cheese on a toasted roll. And if you want something a bit stiffer, there’s liquor, too, in every variety and rounded out with good beers.
Part of the joy of Valley Ford Market is its ever-changing selections. If they’ve got it, they’ve got it (and they usually do), though a glance at the bulletin board-style sandwich list shows this a creative line-up. Daily specials and new recipes are pinned here and there, next to handwritten offerings like the hot Volcano towering with roast beef, peppers, jalapeños, onions, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island on a toasted roll.
Whether you want wine or fresh-brewed gourmet coffee with dessert is up to you, but don’t forget to pick up some sweet treats, displayed in a large spinning case. The cakes and pies are locally baked, such as carrot cake and the toffee crunch cake.