Top Wineries with Wine and Food Pairings
Take the guesswork out of wine and food pairing at Sonoma County wineries that offer gourmet bites with flights of wine.
Combining the talents of local chefs with Sonoma-grown 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 (ask about vegetarian options, and chefs are often happy to accommodate) with a flight of wine for educational purposes — and what a delicious education it is.
Here are 10 top Sonoma County destinations for wine and food pairing:
Named twice by OpenTable as "Best Restaurant in America," St. Francis' 90-minute wine-and-food pairing includes tastes of five wines chosen to complement a five-course, seasonally changing menu created by the winery's executive chef.
Sample menus might include pan-seared day boat scallops with corn and ginger puree paired with a zingy Sauvignon Blanc, or a sumptuous Sonoma County Meritage paired with honey dijon-glazed pork cheek, popcorn grits, and onions braised in red wine.
Set in the hilly Carneros region at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley, Ram's Gate makes great Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and a rainbow selection of other wines.
The 90-minute Seasonal Wine & Food Pairing includes five courses of delicious food paired with Ram's Gate's single-vineyard vintages.
The three-hour, six-course Arbor Experience is served beneath the terrace arbor, featuring a guided tasting of six of Ram's Gate wines paired with a seasonal menu. Allow three hours for the experience.
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.
For the one-hour Library Tasting, guests enjoy an intimate seated tasting in the winery's private library, featuring Jordan Wines, estate olive oil, and food pairings by the winery chef. The Paris on the Terrace tasting includes a seated, bistro-style lunch on the terrace of the iconic Jordan chateau.
During the wine harvest, guests can book a two-hour, seated Harvest Lunch from a series of rotating seasonal menus, and the Holiday Tour & Tasting celebrates Christmas with a winery tour, holiday treats, and a seated food and wine pairing.
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 Culinary Wine Pairing that's guided by a wine educator and paired with the winery's sparkling and still wines; a decadent Caviar and Wine Pairing that includes four different sparkling wines; a Terrace Lunch paired with wines both sparkling and still; and a sweet-and-savory Weekend Brunch Pairing designed to highlight a selection of sparkling wines.
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 comfortable and 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.
A sample menu here might include Feta and Leek Crème Brulee, Seared Scallop Succotash, Beet and Goat Cheese, Mushrooms, Spring Lamb Meatball, Grilled Chicken with Blueberry Gastrique, and Strawberries and Cream.
This elegantly sprawling, chateau-style winery 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, seated Wine & Food Pairing experience matches K-J's finest wines with original bites from their on-site chef. Menu items might include delights like Dungeness crab cakes with carrot, persimmon and radish slaw, or sunchoke soup stocked with Liberty duck confit, dried cherries and mushroom.
Other culinary options include a Cheese & Charcuterie Board pairing, and a Wine & Chocolate Pairing that features dessert wines.
The Seasonal Lunch Pairing from this Russian River Valley winery is an elegant affair, with a seated, three-course meal thoughtfully paired with Lynmar's handcrafted Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays and served on the veranda overlooking the gardens and vineyards. The menu changes every other month, to highlight all that's growing on-site.
If you'd prefer lighter fare, a Provisions Basket could be added to a traditional wine tasting for an on-site picnic experience. Including locally sourced cheese, charcuterie, bread, olives and more, one basket is suggested for two people and must be ordered at least a day in advance.
This family-owned tasting room in downtown Healdsburg started out small, but with such a big passion for pairing wine and food they're now known for their 90-minute seated culinary food and wine pairings, which match bites with their Icon series of wines, usually only available to their wine club members.
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 glass-and-concrete fortress of fizz: five small courses that add up to one epic experience.
Find more info about Sonoma County wineries here.