This itinerary passes through the Sonoma Coast, Green Valley and Russian River Valley wine areas. Sonoma Coast is a relatively new region in the county, and is the coolest. In close proximity to the Pacific, and more than twice the annual rainfall of its inland neighbours, it’s still warm enough to ripen grapes to their fullest flavour potential. Inland, The Russian River Valley and Green Valley, located within it, enjoy a confluence of well drained soils, maritime and river influences providing cooling fog, and warm summer afternoons. Moderate temperatures ensure fruit maturity is achieved without a loss of depth. Throughout this itinerary, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the top varietals, along with cool-climate Syrahs.
Around 30 years ago farmers in the area realized that the unique West Sonoma conditions were ideal for Pinot Noir grapes, giving them depth and character. Early plantings yielded award-winning Pinots that impressed wine lovers, and so the cultivation has grown along the Sonoma Coast. Fog lies over the gentle hills in the mornings, and the area is far cooler than Napa and the rest of Sonoma County, giving Pinot Noir the natural acidity and minerality to pair well with food. The dry, sandy soil known as ‘Goldridge’ produces grapes that are full of flavor and higher in complexity.
Kastania Vineyards. Small producer of estate grown Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winery and tasting room open Sat and Sun 11-4. 4415 Kastania Road. www.kastaniavineyards.com/
McClelland’s Dairy. Over 600 acres of beautiful rolling hills, and 800 grass fed cows. Three years ago the McClelland family transitioned to organic practices, and have recently started producing artisan dairy products. The sea salt organic butter is delicious, and there are also plans to produce cheeses. Visitors can meet the cows, see the dairy and purchase products. 6475 Bodega Avenue. www.mcclellandsdairy.com
This tranquil day spa is the ideal place to recharge yourself before continuing on the wine trail. It is the only place in North America to offer the Cedar Enzyme Bath, over 600 active enzymes combined with ground evergreens and rice bran, creating natural soothing warmth through fermentation. Try a Swedish massage in a quiet pagoda by the bubbling creek, or take a walk around the Asian-style meditation gardens. 209 Bohemian Highway. Tel.: +1 707 823 8231. www.osmosis.com
The picturesque towns of Bodega and Bodega Bay provided the backdrop to Hitchcock’s thriller “The Birds”. In Bodega, visit the famous schoolhouse and nearby St Theresa of Avila Catholic church, both appeared in scenes in “The Birds”.
Bodega Bay is a tranquil fishing village protected from the Pacific by a sweeping bay. Go walking and discover headlands and coves or find secret beaches in a kayak on a guided tour.
Bodega Head is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and plenty of sea birds, and you can look out for whales from the land here – grey whales pass on their migration between Baja and Alaska.
St Theresa of Avila is the oldest continued operated church in Sonoma county. The church was built by shipbuilders, working in nearby Bodega Bay. The land was donated by Jasper O’Ferrell, the original city planner of San Francisco. He’s buried right up the road at Calvery Cemetery.
Bodega Country Store. Excellent picnic supplies, including homemade smoked clam chowder, seafood ceviche and seaweed salad. Organic groceries and fresh local produce. Serving the community since 1874. 17190 Bodega Highway.
Sea Gull Antiques. Next door to the Country Store, and full of fun Americana and vintage surprises. 17190 Bodega Highway.
Doran Park is state-protected, and has a beautiful sandy beach with rolling surf, and a plethora of birdlife, deer and marine life.
Candy & Kites. Open for 28 years, selling a fun selection of kites and flags, chocolates, brittles and saltwater taffy. 1415 Highway 1.
Gourmet au Bay. Enjoy award-winning wines at this waterside wine bar and bottle shop. Open 11am–7pm. 913 Highway 1.
The Tides Wharf Restaurant. “The Birds” was filmed here, and there’s lots of film memorabilia on display. The Tides Wharf has its own fleet bringing in fish and crabs. Expect to see sea lions, seals and pelicans going past the many restaurant windows. Every seat has a view of the bay! The restaurant offers freshly caught seafood, as well as pasta, steaks and vegetarian selections. Pastries are baked fresh daily.
Valley Ford looks like a movie set – the main street takes about a minute to walk along, and it’s surrounded by rolling hillside, farms and cows, but there’s plenty to enjoy. The local country store is well stocked with groceries, drinks and supplies.
Rocker Oysterfeller’s. The historic Valley Ford Hotel, built in 1864, has been reopened by new owners Shona Campbell and Brandon Guenther. The inn has 7 charming guest rooms, and the wonderful Rocker Oysterfeller’s saloon bar and restaurant. Rocker Oysterfeller’s serves delicious Southern-influenced fare, using Sonoma County produce and accompanying it with an extensive Californian wine list, predominantly from Sonoma County. Dinner served Wednesday-Sunday, Mexican Nights Monday & Tuesday, brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 14415 Coast Highway 1. tel.: +1 707 876 1983. www.rockeroysterfellers.com
Sonoma Coast Fish Bank. This store sells fresh, locally sourced, sustainable fish and local products, including oysters from nearby Tomales Bay. You can also eat here, perhaps some New England style clam chowder, or some local artisan cheeses and fresh bread. 11435 Coast Highway 1.
Bistro des Copains. Traditional Provencal cuisine inspired by earthy local flavours of olives, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and goat cheese. Two wood-fired ovens add flavor to the food and warmth to the cozy dining area. Open for dinner every day. 3782 Bohemian Highway. Tel.: +1 707 874 2436. www.bistrodescopains.com
Howard Station Café. Family run café, start your day with breakfast here – famous benedicts, fresh baked pastries and organic juice bar, or visit to pick up something for lunch. 3611 Bohemian Highway.
Negri’s. Feeding Occidental for nearly a century, this fourth generation family owned Italian restaurant prepares dinner from old country recipes that have been in the family for generations. 3700 Bohemian Highway. Tel.: +1 707 823 5301.
Sonoma Fine Wine. This wine shop in downtown Occidental specializes in Sonoma and Napa wines, stocking premium brands and bottles from tiny micro-producers and hard-to-find, allocated vintages. The highly trained consultants can advise and assist you in selecting wine to suit your taste and price range. 3625 Main Street. www.sonomafinewine.com