Sure, Northern California Wine Country has good wine, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find there’s so much more to it than just a good glass of vino. Wine Country neighborhoods have a style all their own. For a relaxed feel, where chances are you’ll enjoy the food just as much as the wine, head to Kenwood.
Kenwood is located in the heart of Sonoma County Wine Country, about an hour’s drive from the Golden Gate Bridge. It sits in between Sonoma and Santa Rosa, with each just 15 minutes away. Highway 12 cuts right through the neighborhood, home to wineries, vineyards and plenty of actual people. It’s the type of place where you’ll see little red wagons rolling along, loaded with groceries and kids.
Wine, Food & a View at VJB Vineyards & Cellars
Where to Sip
There’s plenty of big-name wineries to choose from in Kenwood. No matter the season, flowers are always blooming at Landmark Vineyards. The Ledson Winery and Castle are hard to miss. Names like Kunde Family Estate, Deerfield Ranch Winery and Kenwood Vineyards are members of a very long list of options in the area.
If you’re in the mood to try something new, check out Naked Wines. They’re doing wine different here. With 36 winemakers under one roof, odds are in your favor you’ll leave with a new favorite. Instead of joining a wine club, you can become an angel investor, funding talented winemakers and scoring good wine at wholesale prices. 8450 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)
Taste Something other than Wine
There’s more to Kenwood than just wine. Figone’s of California Olive Oil Company offers complimentary tastings of its olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Visit during harvest time, typically November through January, and you might actually see some pressing action. 9580 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12) corner of Warm Spring Road
There’s no excuse not to eat well in Kenwood. Just outside Figone Olive Oil Company is cibo di strada Italian Street Food. Using locally sourced farms, everything’s prepared in a wood oven and over an open flame. Recycled and compostable products are used and the menu is plantable. Yes, plantable. Plant it in two inches of soil, water and watch it grow. 9580 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12) corner of Warm Spring Road
Locals swear by the whole roasted chickens at Café Citti. There’s also sandwiches, pizza, and assorted pastas to choose from. The restaurant closes daily between the hours of 3:30 and 5 pm. 9049 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)
Work of Art from Wine Truffle Boutique
At VJB Vineyards & Cellars you can do it all. Sip in their tasting room then eat in the piazza. Not lunch time? The Wine Truffle Boutique will blow your diet with gelato and assorted chocolates and sweets. 60 Shaw Avenue, at Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)
And there’s always the road and fieldside stand at Kenwood Strawberry Farm. You can’t get berries much fresher. It’s next door to Swede’s Feeds. Pull in and walk around, some of the garden art will make you laugh out loud. 9140 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)
Enjoy some sculpture art in a peaceful, quiet setting at Wildwood Farm Nursery & Sculpture Garden. Along with local art, the five-acre, family-run nursery is home to plants from all over the world, including 250 different Japanese maples and 50 varieties of dogwood. Wander on your own during business hours, or make arrangements in advance for a personal tour. 10300 Sonoma Highway (Highway 12)
Kenwood Inn & Spa
Want to Stay?
The Mediterranean-inspired Kenwood Inn and Spa is a nice fit for those looking for an intimate getaway. With only 29 guestrooms and a guests-only restaurant, you’ll never have that crowded resort feeling or have to wait in line for one of their tasty breakfast cinnamon rolls.
Ann Davis is the Inn’s dedicated wine director and she does a great job of demystifying wine. She’s holding a series of tasting classes throughout the summer on why certain foods and wines either love each other or hate each other. You don’t have to be a guest to take the classes; they are open to the public, but reservations are required. $40 per person or $70 per couple, 10 percent of ticket sales benefitting Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley.
Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann
Dana received a complimentary class and stay at Kenwood Inn and Spa, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.