5 Clever Places to Propose in Sonoma Wine Country
A Wine Country wedding proposal may seems like the stuff of movies, yet in Sonoma County, it's real, thanks to our splendors that include magnificent forests, oceans, and vineyards.
Those are the obvious choices for popping the question. But why not think outside of the (ring) box, and announce your intentions deep underground, at an artsy restaurant, or in a fabulous tasting lounge? Sometimes, the element of surprise can make that 'yes' even more delicious.
Kunde Family Winery, Kenwood
More than 32,000 square feet of wine caves tunnel through ancient volcanic lava flows, tucked into a steep hillside just behind the winery, on an 1,850-acre estate. The wine caves burrow 175 feet below the earth, welcoming with a deep perfume of aging wine and oak barrels. And they encourage all kinds of special celebrations, such as private food-paired tastings in the dining room that sits encased in five million year old volcanic rock, complete with a volcanic rock stage and elegant redwood tables. (Hint: ask the concierge to present the cork to your sweetie, with the ring wrapped around it). Comfort is guaranteed, too - the caves are ideal for aging premium wines, with year-round temperatures of 58°F and a natural humidity of 78 percent, which decreases evaporation of wine from the barrels.
Details: Kunde Family Winery, 9825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5501.
Are you planning on having your fur baby pup be part of your bridal party? Then include him in the proposal, too. (Who can say no to those soulful puppy eyes?) This is one of the fanciest places Rover will ever be able to come over. The lush garden patio welcomes him with water and biscuits, though it's unlikely you will want to share your award winning dinner. People treats cause Pavlovian responses with lunch, dinner, and brunch dishes like crispy rabbit rillettes over French green lentils, quince, and apple marmalade; pork belly with Yukon gold potatoes, poached egg, Béarnaise, avocado, and bacon; and roasted chicken with dandelion greens, pickled onion, ricotta, and egg yolk ravioli. For dessert, a sparkling diamond ring.
Details: Barndiva, 231 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-431-0100.
Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa
The gasps will start when your sweetie arrives at this 16,000 square foot French Normandy winery known as "The Castle." He or she will be so blown away by the lavish setting, that he or she will be in the high romantic mood to say 'yes, yes, yes!' Start by tasting and selecting favorite wines at the hosted bars, then tour the manicured grounds with picnic areas shadowed by majestic, 100-year old oak trees. And here's the tip: before bringing your loved one, visit on your own earlier in the day and buy a custom picnic from the winery's fully stocked gourmet market (slip the goodies into a backpack). After you've found the perfect spot beneath the trees, enjoy a feast of salads, sandwiches, cheeses, and cookies. The sweetest treat of all: presenting the ring.
Details: Ledson Winery & Vineyards, 7335 Sonoma Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-537-3823.
Walter Hansel Wine Bar & Bistro, Santa Rosa
The setting is an old-style roadhouse on a country lane; the eatery is a project of Stephen Hansel, who also owns Walter Hansel Winery and Vineyard nearby. The French-trained chef infuses a true taste of Europe in this ambitious menu, such as beef cheek bourguignon with button mushrooms, lardoons, sweet carrots, and buttered noodles, and a Floating Island dessert of poached meringue, caramel, crème brulee, crystallized ginger, and toasted almonds. The wine list, naturally, features plenty of Hansel labels, as well as French selections. Practice saying this to your sweetie: 'Je t'aime, veux-tu m'épouser?' (I love you, will you marry me?).
Details: Walter Hansel Wine Bar & Bistro, 3535 Guerneville Road, 707-546-6462, Santa Rosa.
Pangloss Cellars Tasting Lounge, Sonoma
It feels oh-so-civilized to sitting on a tufted vintage couch in a historic, 113-year-old building overlooking the Sonoma Square, nibbling on caviar, Cowgirl Creamery crème fraiche, and Rustic Bakery crackers. This creation from Sonoma's Repris winery owners is elegance all the way, down to its literary namesake, Dr. Pangloss, the eternal optimist in Voltaire's novel Candide (that's him in a portrait on the wall). Tastings include flights of three wines with a wood board draped in delicacies – may we suggest the Burgundy flight of reds with Point Reyes Toma, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, Bleating Heart Fat Bottom Girl, honeycomb, Castelvestrano olives, and blackberry lavender conserve from Gabriel Farms of Sebastopol? That's certainly the way to a guy or gal's heart!
Details: Pangloss Cellars, 35 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-933-8565.