Love is always in the air in Wine Country, as happy couples fall head-over-heels with Sonoma County, then fall in love with each other all over again. And why not, with so many wonderful places to cuddle – in front of a winery fireplace with a glass of wine, perhaps?
You can also gaze into each others’ eyes at an exquisite restaurant, cozy up in a romantic room at a beautiful resort or inn, or scamper hand-in-hand through a spring meadow.
FEED YOUR PASSION
Restaurateurs Kyle and Katina Connaughton finessed every last detail of the combination restaurant and luxury inn. They planted their own five-acre Single Thread Farms property between the Russian River and the historic San Lorenzo Ranch nearby, and established a 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden above the restaurant, both dedicated to growing boutique ingredients for the food and cocktail menus. The concept is kaiseki — elaborate multicourse meals crafted as art — and donabe — rustic clay pot cooking. Menus change daily, but might means delicacies like black cod Fukkura-san (donabe style) with root vegetables, cabbage, charred onion and walnut-nori pesto; plus wild salmon donabe-smoked over cherry-blossom-wood with fermented rice, salmon roe and wild ginger.
Former Dry Creek Kitchen talent Dustin Valette is rocking the food world, bringing in crowds for his contemporary Cal-global cooking and a sexy, reclaimed wood-trimmed, open kitchen ambience. Reservations are recommended to score a table laden with seasonally (and often weekly) changing dishes like slow cooked celeriac soup with toasted pistachios, yellow beet tartare and goat cheese meringue, or crispy skin local sable fish with MIX garden bok choy, roasted ginger dashi, toasted soba noodles and spicy kimchee purée. Be sure to start with hand crafted charcuterie from the custom-made curing case, and if you’re feeling adventurous, tuck into the “Trust Me” menu where Valette sends out a multi-course feast of his daily picks.
Lodging here is unique, whether you’re looking for a posh, modern retreat like the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, a quaint, historic B&B amid the vineyards like the 1880 Raford Inn, or flat out luxury like Madrona Manor’s classic European mansion. But first, be sure to explore the terrific, insider-only savings and specials on accommodations, at www.sonomacounty.com/sonoma-listings/deals. Plus, note that many Sonoma County hotels and inns offer passes for complimentary wine tastings at dozens of nearby wineries. Here are two extra-special deals for this extra-romantic time of year:
The Farmhouse Inn of Forestville was recently named the #3 destination in US and Canada on Condè Nast’s 2019 Gold List of editors’ favorite hotels and resorts. Farmhouse restaurant also earned their 13th consecutive One Michelin Star. So to share the love, the Inn is featuring a “Golden Star Celebration Package” running through March, 2019. Amenities include a sparkling wine toast on arrival, a savory welcome amenity paired with a lovely Russian River Pinot Noir, an artisanal organic handcrafted Bath Bar Tub Turn Down, a Michelin Star signature two-course breakfast credit daily, and personal concierge service to curate a winery visit itinerary with VIP access, complimentary tasting fees and membership benefits. And how sweet is this: stay in a King Deluxe or Luxury Suite for two nights and the second night is up to 50% off.
Kenwood Inn and Spa is a lavish, Tuscan style castle on a hillside overlooking vineyards. The Wine Country Uncorked package offered through June 27, 2019 beckons with discounted room rates plus two pampering spa credits (tip: opt for a couples massage in the privacy of your suite). Other complimentary goodies include the signature breakfast and evening wine and cheese tastings.
EMBRACE MOTHER NATURE
Romping through grassy meadows, strolling through whispering mountaintop forests, playing Frisbee on the beach, and plucking flowers from vast gardens to wear in your hair. Does that sound like a greeting card? It’s reality in Sonoma County, which spans more than one million acres of gorgeous Mayacamas Mountains range to Pacific Ocean coast. With near-endless parks, preserves, babbling streams, greenbelts and vast open agricultural and grazing areas, there’s something new to discover every day.
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We had a beautiful sunny Saturday morning hike at #TaylorMountain yesterday! It felt good to get back on the trails. I was on cold medicine the whole hike and took a long nap after but today I feel so much better! I hiked the cold right out of my head! 😂 . . . . . . . . #smilinginsonoma #sonomacounty #sonomacountyparks #mysonomacountyparks #wwhmember #everytrailconnects #seekmorewilderness #visitsantarosa #thegreatoutdoors #getoutstayout #liveoutdoors #localadventurer #abc7now #californiacaptures #outsideculture #betterouthere #naturalcalifornia #outdoormaster #lovewhereyoulive #rawcalifornia #exploremore #takemoreadventures #forceofnature #liveauthentic #womenwhoexlpore #igersnorthbay #womenwhohike #hikelikeawoman #tree_magic
Explore the newly debuted trails at Taylor Mountain Regional Park in Santa Rosa; they wind through oak woodlands, across ridges overlooking Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley, over the headwaters of Colgan and Cooper creeks and past historic hot springs.
For another noteworthy hike, the new trails at North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park include the 4.25-mile North Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail. The path begins in the ferns and redwoods on the south fork of Matanzas Creek, then climbs through forests of oaks and bay laurels to nearly 2,000 feet. Perfect for a romantic picnic.
THE ROMANCE OF WINE
There’s no denying the pleasure of a fine glass of wine, and shared with a loved one, a sip adds an extra special statement to even the most simple moment. Sonoma County boasts some 425 wineries, pouring everything from Albarino (Paradise View from Sonoma Coast is a knock-out), end with Zinfandel. Then, as you’re ready to fly home, Alaska Airlines invites you to check up to a case of wine for free when you depart from the Sonoma County (STS) / Santa Rosa Airport.
Taste Albarino at Marimar Estate in Sebastopol, from grapes grown on the Don Miguel Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Famous in Spain and rare in Sonoma County, the wine is increasingly popular as savvy sippers here enjoy its aromas of citrus, lime and white peach, with floral honeysuckle overtones and bright acidity. Add in an extra-authentic touch with the guided tour of the Don Miguel Vineyard, ending at the winery house and the owner’s personal cellar, where you select a bottle to enjoy with a tapas platter.
Take a deep dive into Zinfandel at Mazzocco Sonoma winery of Healdsburg, which crafts nearly two dozen variations from nearly a dozen vineyards each year. Reserve a private table just for you and your lovebug in the garden, where, over two hours, you can enjoy a five-pour wine flight, plus, if you like, a BYOB picnic paired with a bottle of your favorite Mazzocco wine.
Because Sonoma County encompasses such a broad range of landscapes, the recreation is equally expansive. You and your honey can horseback ride at wineries or along the coastal bluffs of Bodega Bay, zip line through the redwoods, hike and bike, kayak the Russian River, and go hot air ballooning over vineyards, lakes and valleys. Perhaps you’d like to take a winery tour through off-the-beaten-path vineyards in a horse drawn carriage, it’s all at your beck-and-call.
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma impresses with horseback rides spanning the world famous Dry Creek Valley Wine Region and Lake Sonoma from atop the area’s overlook mountain. A variety of trails are available for guided rides of two to 30 guests; the Heritage Oaks Lake View Ride is popular for its extensive coverage of up-and-down trails, meadows, creek crossings, forest of oaks, madrone, and bays, and stunning Valley vistas.
Because your love leaves you breathless… at Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental, your zip line instructor straps you into the gear and Go Camera you’ll wear for this high-speed scream through space. Indeed, 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 sweetheart, sharing the thrill of the zip.