WHAT’S NEW IN SONOMA COUNTY MAY 2023
SONOMA COUNTY (May 1, 2023) With awe-inspiring views, trees that are older than most buildings, and countless opportunities to immerse oneself in nature, the natural surroundings of Sonoma County will literally stop you in your tracks and cause you to pause. And it is within this pause that the magic happens. Because in that extra moment, that breathtaking beat where time catches in midair, mindfulness has space to do its work. Pausing yields big effects that can be felt and seen all throughout Sonoma County, making your visit—and your life—more meaningful in many ways. In Sonoma County Life Opens Up and offers endless opportunities to practice mindfully pausing and the effects can be felt long after one has departed. One of the best parts about mindfulness is that it’s portable—and you can take that Sonoma County feeling with you wherever you go.
New Sonoma County Accolades
The Donum Estate has achieved Regenerative Organic Certified status for its four estate vineyards as recognized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). Considered the highest level of organic certifications, Donum is one of the first wineries in Sonoma County to receive this milestone recognition.
Travel + Leisure magazine announced its 18th annual “It List” of the best new and renovated hotel properties in the world. Among the 100 properties on the prestigious 2023 list is The Madrona in Healdsburg.
Healdsburg also appears on Travel + Leisures list of “Best Places to Travel in May 2023.”
Condé Nast Traveler has included The Madrona on their Hot List Winners of 2023.
The city of Sonoma was ranked as one of the top “trending destinations” to visit in the United States in 2023 by TripAdvisor as part of the travel website’s annual Travelers’ Choice awards.
Voted on by readers of USA Today, Safari West was rated #5 in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest for Best Safari Park in the United States.
TravelPulse.com, the most visited travel trade website in the world, has named Sonoma County Tourism’s CEO, Claudia Vecchio as one of 2023’s Most Influential Women in Travel. Each woman on the list was named by peers as a leader, change maker, and visionary in her own way.
USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice named Sonoma Raceway among the top 10 NASCAR tracks in the US in 2023.
Petaluma’s Della Fatoria was included in Mashed magazine’s “Where to Get the Absolute Best Bread in America.”
Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times picked the Glen Ellen Star in Glen Ellen, The Mathison in Healdsburg, and Valley Bar + Bottle in Sonoma as his favorite Sonoma County restaurants. According to Asimov his picks combine intriguing, good-value wine lists with “terrific food” and “a welcoming, relaxed ambiance.”
Jordan Winery was named 2022 Monarch Sustainer of the Year by Pollinator Partnership, the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated to the protection and conservation of vital pollinators. The award recognizes the winery’s leadership and action in providing habitats for monarchs along their migratory corridors.
New in Restaurants
Redwood Wine Bar focuses on minimal- or no-intervention sparkling, white, red, and skin contact offerings from California paired with a Mediterranean-inspired food menu that features delicious spreads, tinned fish, scallop crudo and braised lamb shank. Owners Chef Ryan Miller and Beverage Director Geneva Melby will change the menu seasonally and share their passion for the fast-growing field of low-intervention, native yeast, and unfutzed-around-with styles of wine.
Brew Coffee and Beer House has opened in Forestville. The new outpost, the second coffeehouse for Brew, will serve the same full food and drink menu as at the Downtown Santa Rosa location, including 18 taps with rotating selections of Sonoma County craft beer, cider, and wine. With its recognizable rainbow crosswalk and LGBTQ+ flag, Brew has become a beacon for local artists and the queer community.
Ethel’s Bagels, a popular purveyor of Northern California bagels has opened a Petaluma bakery. The bakery produces chewy and flavorful bagels, melding East and West Coast sensibilities. They’re boiled in malt syrup New York-style but made from a sourdough that builds flavor over a 30-hour fermentation. Sonoma County’s own Lagunitas malt beer is used in the boiling mixture.
New in Outdoors
Safari West recently announced the birth of a Southern white rhinoceros on the Sonoma Serengeti. This historic birth is the first calf of Eesha, a female rhino, and the first rhinoceros ever born in Sonoma County. The birthing process has a level of risk for every animal. Safari West is especially cautious, because while it is very common for female white rhinos to have babies at Eesha’s age, it is uncommon for female white rhinos to have their first calf at Eesha’s age. She is 18 years old. Given the challenges rhinos are currently facing in the wild, a pregnant rhino anywhere in the world is reason to celebrate. Safari West is humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the growth of rhino populations and aid in the conservation of this protected species.
Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve in Guerneville has been incorporated into the nationwide Old-Growth Forest Network, a project aimed at protecting and promoting old growth forests around the country. The 805-acre reserve has become one of more than 185 forests in 32 states to receive the designation from the 11-year-old nonprofit network. The designation is an acknowledgment that gradual aging of forest habitat provides critical habitat and nourishment for plant and animal species that share the space, generates new topsoil, and produces oxygen while storing carbon.
New in Wine
J Vineyards & Winery has announced the second year of its groundbreaking culinary series Shifting the Lens, highlighting underrepresented cuisines and chefs. Curated by chef Preeti Mistry, the mission of the four-part program is to expand Sonoma Wine Country’s vision of wine and food pairing — cheese, charcuterie, European cuisine — to include global ingredients and the culinary talents of women, people of color and international food thought leaders. Shifting the Lens residency includes weekend tasting experiences in J’s Bubble Room as well as two special dinners where guests may partake in the five-course pairing menu and join an intimate discussion with the guest chef, winemaker Nicole Hitchcock and other winery leaders about their perspectives on food, wine, and culture.
Tracey Shepos-Cenami has been promoted to executive chef and director of culinary development for Jackson Family Wines. Shepos-Cenami gained notoriety at Jackson Family Wines for her wine and cheese program and cookbook, “Season: A Year of Wine Country Food, Farming, Family & Friends” (Cameron, 2018). Shepos-Cenami has been a familiar face on Food Network shows “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Guy’s Tournament of Champions.”
Barber Cellars is offering a several uniquely inspired European board options to enhance their wine pairing experience; a “Sonoma Board” for a selection of local cheeses and charcutiere, or their “Zakuski Board” for a selection of traditional Ukrainian meat, cheeses, salads, dumplings, and pastries, many of which are drawn from co-owner Lorraine Barber’s grandmother's recipes from Kiev, Ukraine.
New in Events
The Pride parade begins on Old Courthouse Square and heads down Fourth Street in Downtown Santa Rosa. Immediately after the parade, follow the music and explore the community festival, newly expanded onto Fourth Street. Enjoy a bite to eat from one of the food and snack vendors offering a variety of delicious options. Quench your thirst with a cold beer or cocktail at the festival bar and enjoy live shows, drag acts, and special performances throughout the night. Attendees can check out a wide range of non-profit organizations and learn about the excellent work for the Sonoma County LBGTQ+ community. June 3. 6:00 pm
NBA All-Star and TNT basketball commentator Shaquille O’Neal will rev up the crowd with electronic dance music prior to the start of the NASCAR Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The four-time NBA champion and platinum-selling recording artist will drop the beat on the pre-race stage to headline festivities for the 34th annual NASCAR Cup Series race. Sonoma Raceway is a 2.52-mile and 12-turn road course and hosts one of the few NASCAR Cup Series races each year that are run on road courses. It is one of the world’s busiest and most popular racing facilities with track activity scheduled an average of 340 days a year. June 11. 12:30 pm
The Wine & Sunset series at Paradise Ridge Winery is set on the winery’s hillside amphitheater which provides guests with an expansive view of the estate vineyards and the Russian River Valley. This weekly outdoor event features festive music, wines by the glass or bottle, and gourmet food trucks. 6:00 pm. Wednesday evenings through September.
Home to one of the largest accessible private sculpture collections in the world, Donum now offers an art tour without wine tasting. The 90-minute Donum Collection Art Tour introduces visitors to the collection with more than 50 monumental works, including open-air sculptures, throughout the Donum Estate, with over a third being site-specific commissions. This evolving collection brings together a global community of artists, featuring works from leading artists from 18 nations, across six continents.
New in Arts
Heralded as part of a reawakening in downtown Santa Rosa, Barrel Proof Lounge is a new performance venue that stands between two spots that have brought momentum to the live entertainment scene: the Lost Church music club and The California, a new theater, comedy and music space that opened last September. Barrel Proof has brought nationally known A-list comedians to the Sally Tomatoes venue in Rohnert Park and continues to do so at the new Barrel Proof Lounge.
Cheesemaker, chef, and culinary educator Sheana Davis has teamed up with her daughter Karina Davis to author a new book, “Buttermonger.” Drawing on decades of experience with butter through Sheana’s catering company and retail shop, The Epicurean Connection in Sonoma, the authors share more than 40 sweet, savory and novelty butter recipes in the book. In addition to recipes, the book highlights American artisan butters from high profile organic and environmentally conscious Sonoma County dairies such as Straus Family Creamery and Clover Stornetta Dairy among others.
New in the Digital Landscape
A great source of buzzworthy story ideas, check out the latest segments of “What’s Happening in Sonoma County” video series.
About Sonoma County Tourism
Sonoma County Tourism is the region’s destination stewardship organization. Inspiring travel to the region through a variety of sales and marketing programs aimed at consumers, meeting and event planners, the travel trade, and media, the organization strives to ensure responsible tourism helps create a robust economy for the Sonoma County region. For more information visit sonomacounty.com.
Birgitt Vaughan, Director, Public Relations
Chris Vomvolakis, Senior Manager, Consumer Public Relations