Top Wineries with Wine and Food Pairings
Take the guesswork out of wine and food pairings at Sonoma County wineries that offer gourmet bites with flights.
Combining the talents of local chefs and seasonal produce (often from vineyard-adjacent estate gardens) means Sonoma County wineries are outdoing each other in culinary presentations that were formerly available only at top restaurants.
By law, only a handful of California wineries are allowed to have full-service restaurants. But Sonoma County does allow wineries to offer gourmet bites with a flight of wine for educational purposes — and what a delicious education it is.
Tip: Many wineries can accommodate dietary restrictions as long as requests are made in advance. Contact the individual estates to learn more.
Here are some of the top Sonoma County destinations for wine and food pairing:
A Certified California Sustainable Vineyard & Winery, St. Francis has been named multiple times by OpenTable as "Best Restaurant in America." The winery's pairing experience includes tastes of five wines chosen to complement a five-course, seasonally rotating menu created by their executive chef.
Savor the likes of parsnip bisque starring curried shrimp, ginger, and bright shiso paired with the vanilla-subdued citrusy notes of a Cuvee Blanc or five-spice pork belly served with rainbow carrots, golden beets, and fennel relish coupled with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Set in the hilly Carneros region at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley, Ram's Gate is known especially for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but also boasts a rainbow of other varietals.
The two-hour Seasonal Wine & Food Experience starts with a tour where you'll learn about the Ram's Gate farming techniques and winemaking. You'll then take part in a guided wine tasting and pairing in which you'll indulge in those famous Pinots and Chards coupled with dishes like vegan miso carbonara or sous vide salmon with forbidden garlic fried rice and marinated lotus root.
Or try the the 90-minute Caviar Experience, where you can sample small-batch American caviar while sipping beautifully paired wine selections.
This French-inspired Alexander Valley winery offers several distinctive and intimate food-and-wine experiences, featuring their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay paired with farm-to-table menus designed to showcase foods grown on its nearly 1,200-acre property. Jordan's culinary team takes sustainability to the next level, as they forage the estate and nearby areas in search of wild herbs, aromatics, and mushrooms — all of which pair divinely with the wines grown on-site, as they share a common ground (literally!).
You'll be able to take your pick from several experiences that combine tours with tastings and seasonal pairings. Relish hiromasa crudo and local beef tartare as you sip Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to the wine, these bites are also paired with stunning views of Jordan's garden and vineyards. Or tour the full estate to revel in an al fresco where you'll dine on a hilltop and also get to sample the winery's olive oil.
Keep an eye on their calendar for seasonal events — like harvest fests and holiday meals — for pairings whose flavors are amplified by a festive atmosphere.
4. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sonoma
Established in the 1980s, Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling wine house built in the Carneros region. Its Vista Terrace offers scenic views of sun-drenched estate vineyards and the rolling hills of the Carneros.
Gloria Ferrer offers several food-and-wine pairing experiences, including a seasonally curated tasting menu guided by a wine educator. The winery's sparkling and still wines are expertly paired with delights such as pan-roasted local halibut wrapped in serrano ham with pea and mint puree or brightly acidic shrimp ceviche with jalapeño, citrus, cucumber, and herbs. And desserts scream rustic decadence with options like Demi-Sec paired with strawberry-rhubarb panna cotta and fresh whipped cream.
Other options from this Certified California Sustainable Vineyard & Winery include a curated brunch on the terrace, where you can enhance the flavors of the meal and wines with the sights of grape leaves gently caressed by cool breezes and a caviar pairing that spotlights small-batch American offerings.
This small, family-owned winery in the heart of the Sonoma Valley specializes in single-vineyard wines that provide a match between terroir and varietal.
Tastings in the intimate Reserve Room, which overlooks local vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains, are extensive adventures featuring seven dishes, each designed to match a different Mayo Family wine — whether its Zinfandel, Merlot, or Viognier.
A sample menu here will take you right around the world. Expect the likes of Vietnamese spring rolls bursting with crisp herbs and house-made ravioli with tarragon pesto, fresh peas, and homemade ricotta or Creole shrimp and andouille gumbo and quesabirria with aged white cheddar and au jus.
6. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens, Santa Rosa
This elegantly sprawling, chateau-style winery also boasts a full roster of certifications and honors when it comes to sustainable practices, and you'll see why during a paired tasting. The estate is home to one of the most spectacular culinary gardens in California, much less Sonoma County. Much of this produce ends up in its tantalizing cuisine, which is created to elicit the full potential of K-J's limited production, single-vineyard whites and reds.
Their premium Wine & Food Pairing matches K-J's finest wines with a farm-to-table culinary experience crafted by their executive chef. Menu items might include palate pleasers like pork belly served over black rice noodles in soul-warming dashi broth or steak with farro, fresh vegetables, and a sweet soy sauce.
Other culinary options include a Cheese & Charcuterie Board pairing and a Pop-Up Picnic so you can sprawl in the shade with charcuterie and wine as you take in the Sonoma County views.
The seasonal Collectors Lunch Pairing from this Russian River Valley winery is an opulent affair. Enjoy a seated, multi-course meal thoughtfully coupled with Lynmar's handcrafted Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. You'll be expertly guided through the meal and tasting — which takes place in their the enchanting setting of their Quail Hill Vineyard.
Or opt for the Estate Pairing in which you'll tantalize your tastebuds with four gourmet courses, all curated to highlight seasonal ingredients from the estate and local purveyors.
Menus at each experience feature luxurious dishes, such as grilled basque-spiced tenderloin of lamb and herbed beggar's purse filled with ricotta and garden flowers. No matter the menu, expect courses to showcase estate-grown ingredients, including anise hyssop, green onions, bay laurel, herbs, olives, olive oil, blood orange, and edible flowers.
8. J Vineyards & Winery, Healdsburg
A Sonoma County favorite for sparkling wine, J Vineyards offers several sipping and nibbling options at their Healdsburg-area headquarters. The premier option is a tasting in The Bubble Room, a comfortably cushy lounge within this modern fortress of fizz: five small courses that add up to one epic experience as they tell the story of the relationship between the wines and the locally sourced ingredients used in the cuisine.
Menus are seasonal and past offerings have included melt-in-your-mouth lamb kofta with sweet potato gratin and mint chutney, green garlic risotto with parmesan foam and estate olive oil, and orange creamsicle parfait with brûléed marshmallow fluff, vanilla wafers, and white-chocolate pearls.