The Taste of Winter in Sonoma County
Winter is a magical time in Sonoma County, with so much to do yet generally less crowds, mild temperatures, and wonderful flavors that are unique to the area, such as freshly caught Dungeness crab and other sustainably sourced seafood straight from the Sonoma Coast. Here are some of the most anticipated flavors of a Sonoma County winter.
1. Dungeness Crab
Dungeness crab is a winter tradition in Sonoma County, thanks to the wealth of amazing, fresh and locally caught Dungeness crab here.
Pair fresh crab with a creamy Caesar salad, garlic bread, and bubbly and you’ve got the perfect classic winter meal.
When it comes to crab, you cannot get fresher than Spud Point, where the crab is literally pulled out of the bay, put on ice, and sold within less than a day of being caught. An added bonus to waiting in the long line that typically forms at Spud Point to get your crab fresh-from-the-source, is that you can enjoy a bowl of Spud’s famous white or red clam chowder while you’re there.
The following markets in Sonoma County are also great places to buy your fresh locally caught Dungeness crab:
Oliver’s Market (Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, and Windsor)
Anna’s Seafood (Petaluma)
Big John’s Market (Healdsburg)
2. Sonoma County Surf and Turf
If steak and seafood sound like the perfect winter meal, look no further than Sonoma County’s local farms, butchers, and fish markets/purveyors to purchase the freshest and highest quality meat and seafood.
Voted the Best Butcher Shop in Sonoma County for seven years in a row, Sonoma County Meat Co. sources its meats from local, sustainable family farms, and provides all the cut and wrap, smoking, and sausage-making in-house.
Sonoma County Meat Co.’s cattle are free-range and grass-fed, and raised on a ranch in Knights Valley, just outside Calistoga, that practices regenerative agriculture, so you can feel good about how good the steaks taste.
For other ideas, read Your Guide to Sustainable Meat in Sonoma County.
For the “surf” part of your winter meal, whether it’s crab, lobster, halibut, salmon, or tuna you’re after, Anna’s Seafood in Petaluma is a fantastic place to pick up fresh, local, and sustainable seafood. You can also head to Oliver’s Market locations in Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, and Windsor, or Big John’s Market in Healdsburg.
There’s no shortage of good wine in Sonoma County and bubbles are no exception. The following sparkling wines, ranging from affordable to luxury-splurge in price, are some of our favorites:
Amista Vineyards Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($48)
Bodkin Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc ($25)
Gloria Ferrer 2018 Blanc de Blanc ($58)
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Magnum ($60) *
Iron Horse Winter’s Cuvee 2018 ($72)
J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Magnum ($75) *
*Magnum bottles always make it a party!
4. Freshly Baked Bread, Caesar Salad, and Other Winter Comfort Foods
The smell of freshly baked sourdough bread and warm garlic butter is a difficult one to top! Luckily, in Sonoma County, you can satisfy your craving at a few places. The following bakeries sell some of the freshest bread around:
Costeaux Bakery (Healdsburg)
Franco American Bakery (downtown Santa Rosa)
Goguette Bakery (Montgomery Dr. in Santa Rosa)
Quail and Condor (Healdsburg)
To round out your meal, whether its potatoes, salad fixings, or an artisan cheese and charcuterie platter, Oliver’s Market has you covered with a wide selection of locally made products. Oliver’s also has a great in-house bakery that turns out some of the best pies, cookies, and sweets in Sonoma County. If you’re looking to order prepared foods, we highly recommend ordering in advance online.
Oliver’s also has a great selection of local spirits and mixers to choose from, including Hanson of Sonoma vodka, Spirit Works Distillery gin, Griffo Distillery’s gin and whiskey, and a couple of other local gin and brandy options.
Written by Brooke Herron