White v neck tshirt: Nordstrom, This is a great scoop neck tee if you prefer that instead of a v neck. // Stripe shorts: LOFT, They are almost sold out, but this pair is very similar they just don't tie at the waist. // Flamingo espadrilles: Nordstrom // Gray cardigan: J Crew // Nude cross body: Calvin Klein // Hat: Target // Sunglasses: Ray Ban
When you first enter wine country, you'll either drive through Napa or Sonoma depending on which route you take. We actually drove through Napa on the way to St Helena and Calistoga, but only stopped at the famous Oxbow Market because we knew we would be driving back through. Even though Napa and Sonoma are next to each other they're very different.
Where to Stay
Several people recommended that we stay in Sonoma, because it was slightly more laid back than Napa. We stayed at the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa, which was a gorgeous property and it had a fabulous pool. There are individual cottages you can rent, but we stayed in the main building. The room was spacious and came with it's own patio and fireplace!
Every night they had a different winemaker come do a wine tasting and there were always munchies and fruit infused water available in the lobby. There was a cafe where you could get a quick breakfast or snacks, as well as coffee, beer, wine and liquor. They also offered yoga and a daily hike and of course there was the pool and spa. So even if you never left the hotel there was a ton of stuff to do. They also had a free shuttle that would take you into the main square so we definitely took advantage of that.
Sunflower Caffé: This is totally a place that locals frequently on the regular. We went pretty early and it was a good thing we did because it fills up quickly! Unlike pretty much every other restaurant, they actually don't take reservations so get there early. They have a patio in front and a charming courtyard and the most giant cookies I've ever seen. Honestly, when I was trying to decide when to put this on the itinerary, I had a difficult time deciding what meal to go for because everything look amazing. We ended up going for breakfast which was delicious! I would love to go back and try it for dinner because their wine menu looked so fun.
Also like a lot of places in the area, the menu changes seasonally so what we ordered may not be available when you go, but I can say that not matter what you order I'm pretty sure it will be delicious. I ordered a Belgian waffle, which was unique in that the batter was more of a cornmeal so it wasn't super sweet. Just a touch of maple syrup added just the right amount of sweetness. If Evan wouldn't have ordered this, I would have because I really wanted to try it. He got the California sandwich which has scrambled eggs, arugula, bacon, goat cheese and avocado crush...aka the most delicious guacamole!
Sonoma Food & Wine Tour: When it comes to vacations, food plays a huge part in my itinerary and one of the fun things I've started doing is food and wine tours. You get to visit some really cool places and find out where the locals are really going. The tour started with some fresh Neapolitan pizza paired with house made wines, a visit to a local cheese maker, olive oil tasting, a stuffed avocado at a California Mexican restaurant (which is totally different than Tex-Mex) and finished off at a chocolate shop. It was a fun way to experience the city and sample some great things.
Picnic at Buena Vista Winery: Unfortunately, for a good portion of the year it's too hot for picnics but I absolutely love them so when I found out you could do one at Buena Vista I immediately signed us up. I'll share more about the winery itself on Monday, but for now let's talk about the food options. There are so many beautiful tucked away spots at this winery that it was hard to pick a place, but we settled at a table in the shade that overlooked the property.
There are two options, one was more of a charcuterie option and the other was sandwiches. We chose the sandwiches and got our choice of sandwich, a glass of wine, house made potato chips and handmade caramels. And bonus...it came in the most adorable picnic basket! Sadly we had to give the basket back, but it was fun to have for the lunch. This was a gorgeous setting for a summer picnic and I would definitely suggest doing the picnic if you get to the winery.
Oxbow Public Market: This was one place that we couldn't get enough of, so we actually went twice! The first time we ordered sandwiches and wine from the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant and the second time we stopped into Gott's Roadside for burgers and fries. It's an updated diner type feel with very contemporary food and definitely had several items on the menu I would like to go back and try. I had the Texas avocado burger (because I'll never pass up avocado) and Evan ordered the classic double cheeseburger. We split an order of the garlic fries, but the onion rings looked so good. This was actually my favorite burger, but Evan still preferred his burger from Farmstead.
Even though Napa is wine country, distilling is becoming a hot new thing so we stopped into Napa Valley Distillery for a tasting. They were serving up their twist on prohibition style liqueurs with things like Meyer Lemon and brandy. We also picked up some amazing truffles and marshmallows from Anette's Chocolates and brought home a bottle of Napastak Meyer Lemon olive oil that is perfect for fish, chicken and salads. And then we wrapped up our tasting with a trio of ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream. We got lemon cookie, chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough. It was the perfect sweet finish for a successful trip to the market.
Carneros Bistro: This was the hotel's restaurant onsite that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our meal started with some oysters on the half shell and a caesar salad. I had the veggie flatbread for my meal which had mushrooms, onions and mozzarella. Evan opted for the Hanger steak frites which was also good. The service was a bit slow, so probably some where you don't want to visit if you have to be some where. We didn't have a reservation, but were able to get seated quickly. It probably wouldn't hurt to have a reservation though.
The Girl & The Fig: This country French inspired restaurant came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. It was actually a bit chilly so we didn't get to sit outside, but they had a wonderful looking patio. Set it what looks like an old home on the main square in Sonoma, the wood decor makes you instantly feel at home. This is definitely a place where you need a reservation, so don't be afraid to book it as soon as you figure out your going.
We started with a charcuterie plate that featured fresh local cheeses. The selections change so what we had probably isn't available anymore. And of course we had to try the fig and arugula which was spicy, sweet and perfectly balanced. I will usually never pass up a grilled cheese, but after thinking about it I decided I should try something more exciting. I got the potato gnocchi, which were light and fluffy and came in a delicious tomato sauce. Evan surprisingly enough ordered the flounder, which was butter, flaky and the lemon caper sauce helped bring a beautiful brightness to the dish.
El Dorado: This is actually a hotel as well which we wanted to stay at but unfortunately they didn't have any availability. But we were able to get a dinner reservation. The restaurant features a local, seasonal menu that highlights some of the best ingredients in the region. Hopefully, you seen a theme were reservations are highly, highly recommended for restaurants because you will for sure need one here.
Our meal started with the burrata topped with peas and a smoky tomato sauce. It was not a flavor combo that I would have put together, but the fresh peas mellowed out the smokiness and the creamy burrata made it feel so luxurious. I got the risotto with parsnips, mushrooms and asparagus. It was creamy and I loved all the different veggies in it, but to be honest I prefer my risotto to have just a bit more sauce. Evan got the fettuccine carbonara, served the traditional way where the egg is added at the table and you have to mix it in to cook the egg.
Have you been to any of these places? Are there any restaurants you would recommend? We will definitely be back again to the area, so I'll be keeping a list of places for next time.