Hispanic Businesses, Wineries and Restaurants in Sonoma County
Sonoma County is home to an amazing community of Hispanic restaurants, chefs, wineries, shops and more. Sonoma County wouldn't be the place that it is without the amazing contribution of its Hispanic and Latinx community that has done so much for industries like wine, food, art and the list goes on. Fittingly then, as National Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off, we give thanks and recognize our incredible community of Hispanic wineries, restaurants, farmers, artists, makers, and small businesses.
September 15 to October 15 marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, also known as Latinx Heritage Month. This national observance began more than 50 years ago, in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson’s administration started Hispanic Heritage Week. Two decades later, President Ronald Reagan’s administration expanded it to a month.
While many cultural celebrations start on the first of the month, National Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15th, which is independence day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18. As hispanicheritagemonth.gov puts it, “Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”
Here in Sonoma County, we recognize the vital role that the Latinx community plays in the success of our wine and culinary scene, and so many other industries. It’s clearly evident when you look at the vineyards, orchards, farms, kitchens, and shops throughout Sonoma County. Therefore, we want to recognize and celebrate just a few of those important Latinx and Hispanic stories of Sonoma County.
Winemakers and Wineries
We’d be remiss to celebrate the world-renowned wine industry of Sonoma County without praising the work of the Latinx farmers, growers, and winemakers who are integral to its success. It begins at the roots, quite literally, with people like Jose Cervantes, who was Sonoma County’s 2019 Vineyard Employee of the Year. Cervantes has worked at Cornerstone Certified Vineyards for 25 of the 30 years he has worked in the wine industry and is now second in command at Cornerstone as Operations Supervisor. Jim Pratt, owner of Cornerstone Certified Vineyards shares:
“Jose is among the very best to ever have worked in a vineyard in Sonoma County. He is a very caring individual and is always available to listen to the needs and ideas of everyone, plus he is one of the very best at growing grapes.”
Elsewhere, you need not look far to see the influence of the Latinx community on winemaking in Sonoma County. That community of winemakers includes female winemakers like Zidanelia Arcidiacono at Sonoma-Cutrer and Marcia Torres Forno of Matanzas Creek Winery. Furthermore, there are many Hispanic-owned Sonoma County wineries, including Robledo Family Winery, Ceja Vineyards, Guerrero Fernandez Winery, and Enriquez Estate Wines, just to name a few.
Chefs and Restaurants
Similarly, the influence of Hispanic cultures on the culinary scene of Sonoma County is very evident. Drive down Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa and you’ll find panaderías (bakeries), taquerias, and taco trucks lining the road. Last year, Northern California’s first Mexican food park opened here, called Mitote Food Park. The small food park is located in the heart of the Roseland neighborhood on Sebastopol Road, featuring several different food vendors.
The influence of Mexican cuisine on California is apparent throughout Sonoma County. In Northern Sonoma County, the Diaz family owns a number of Mexican restaurants, including El Farolito and Agave in Healdsburg, and El Gallo Negro in Windsor. Other notable Mexican restaurants include Los Molcajetes and Cascabel Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar in Santa Rosa, Picazo Kitchen & Bar and El Molino Central in Sonoma, and Mi Pueblo, which has numerous locations. Among Sonoma County's newest restaurants is Tortilla Real, which opened in Petaluma. The Flores Family honors their Mexican heritage with dishes and flavors sourced from their ancestors' recipes that originated in Gudalajara, Jalisco.
Many Sonoma County restaurants are actually supplying locally-made hot sauce with Hispanic roots. Sonoma Hot Sauce comes from Deb Rock, who is one of the only Latinas producing her own hot sauces in America. The inspiration comes from her family roots in Mexico, where her family were farmers.
While Northern California is known for its Mexican food, there are many other great Latin American restaurants and chefs. This includes Ayawaska RestoBar and Sazon for Peruvian, El Coqui for Puerto Rican food, Vinoma for Argentine empanadas, and Don Julio's Rincon Latin Grill and Pupusas for El Salvadorian food.
Finally, there’s the dessert course. Celebrating a decade in business, Fruta founder, Salvador Cruz, has opened four locations throughout Sonoma County that specialize in all-natural artisan ice cream and fruit bars, known as paletas. The exotic fruits and flavors of Cruz's childhood in Mexico have influenced the 36 flavors that are now on Fruta's menu.
In downtown Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, visitors and locals alike line up outside of Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. Here, Ozzy Jimenez draws a crowd with pies like Peanut Butter Mousse and Maple Pecan, and ice cream flavors like Dutch Cookie and Homemade Oreo. It’s the perfect nightcap after a day of wine tasting.
Art, Culture and Shops
The influence of the Hispanic community goes far beyond just the food and drink scene of Sonoma County. It includes artists, like Mario Uribe, whose exhibits and public art can be seen throughout California and beyond. He owns Café Frida Gallery with his son-in-law, Mamadou Diouf.
Monarch Butterflies travel from Michoacán Mexico to Canada in less than 10 butterfly generations each generation passes on the exact information of where they will migrate in their lifetime. Such a beautiful species. Now we have another beautiful piece of art courtesy @mariouribeart for #cafefridagallery
In Cotati, there's Bow N Arrow Clothing, a women's bohemian boutique owned by Latina entrepreneur Mercedes Hernandez. Bow N Arrow Clothing specializes in modern, stylish bohemian clothing for juniors and women. In Healdsburg, Alma's Oilcloth and Chucherias sells traditional, handmade items like oilcloth bags, tablecloths, and unique gifts that are reflective of Mexican culture.
In the coming days and weeks, people can celebrate Hispanic and Latinx history and culture in a variety of ways in Sonoma County.Windsor, Healdsburg, Sonoma, and Petaluma are among the towns that host their own Dia de Los Muertos events, while many restaurants and small businesses will be hosting their own events over the coming days. As you plan your future trips to Sonoma County, during National Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond, we invite you to discover the amazing Latinx and Hispanic contributions and influences in Sonoma County.