This luxury food and wine vacation to Sonoma and Mendocino is a true ‘Farm to Table’ odyssey. Not only will you stay in style at award-winning boutique inns and enjoy mouth-watering culinary delights at some of California’s most highly regarded restaurants, but you’ll also harvest, forage and catch the fruits of the region yourself, as you spend time with local producers, ranchers, and chefs.
Northern California’s Sonoma and Mendocino counties stretch from the rolling hills of wine country to the rugged shores of the Pacific. It’s a region marked by rich, fertile soils, plenty of sun and abundant moisture from the cooling oceanic fog. Idyllic country roads lead you past groves of giant redwoods, along lush river valleys and over golden hills, adorned with neat vines and ancient oaks. Generations of families are deeply rooted here, and their small farms, acclaimed vineyards and charming villages all add to the subtle magnetism of the region. We love the sophistication of Napa but for those looking to truly slow down, a vacation to Sonoma and Mendocino is the answer.
Sonoma Coast & Point Reyes National Seashore
Leaving San Francisco, head north to the rugged beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore and the protected Tomales Bay. Here you’ll meet a local naturalist and together in kayaks explore the bay with its diverse marine life. Back on dry land, shuck your own oysters, freshly harvested from the bay, washed down with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
After lunch, take the backroads as you wind inland through Sonoma’s vineyards, hilltop hamlets and rural farming communities, ending at the Farmhouse Inn, your luxurious yet laid-back base for the next few days. Dinner at their Michelin starred restaurant is a fitting way to end your journey.
Day 2 & 3
Today venture out to some family owned vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley, in many ways quintessential Sonoma. You’ll enjoy access to wineries that are not open to the public or still fly very much under-the-radar. To experience the slower side of the wine country, pedal your way between wineries, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way.
Start the next day with a hike among the majestic redwoods of Armstrong Woods before spending the afternoon in Healdsburg, the bustling nexus of Northern Sonoma. This evening you’ll savor the ultimate farm-to-table dining experience at the highly anticipated Single Thread Farms. The innovative, ever changing eleven course tasting menu is prepared using all locally sourced ingredients. The kitchen is completely open to the dining room allowing you to witness the creation of each course and to interact not only with your server but the chef team as well. It is truly a feast for all the senses.
Mendocino via the Anderson Valley
Day 5, 6 & 7
Turning north from Healdsburg takes you into Mendocino County. Sparsely populated, rural and still true to its counter-culture history, it’s offbeat NorCal at its best. Your route takes you through the Anderson Valley, now an AVA in its own right. Stands of oak, douglas fir and coastal redwoods are interspersed with vineyards, and you’ll pass through bucolic towns like Boonville. Once you reach the coast, it’s a pretty drive north to Mendocino and the Brewery Gulch Inn.
Saddle up the following morning as you ride along the surf of Ten Mile Beach, taking in the crisp salty air and jaw-dropping views. After lunch in Mendocino, you’ll roam the inland forests with a mycologist on the hunt for oyster, chanterelle and other mushroom varieties. You’ll learn how to identify the different species and learn why Mendocino county is the perfect growing habitat for these woodland treats.
End your time in Mendocino the next day with a leisurely paddle up the Big River in a handmade redwood canoe. As the sun sets, marvel at the phosphorescent algae all aglow beneath the surface. A truly magical moment.
Highway 1 to San Francisco
Day 8 & 9
It will be hard to drag yourself away but the drive down the coast to San Francisco is something to savor. The Mendocino coast is known for its wild and rugged shoreline, its turquoise waters and inviting coastal towns.
Wrap up your wine country vacation in San Francisco, sampling the culinary delights this gourmet mecca has to offer. Wander the North Beach neighborhood with its Italian bakeries, taste your way through the artisan food outlets in the Ferry Building or head to the Mission for some of the best Mexican food north of the border. San Francisco’s Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia, offers street food treats and more traditional dishes, transporting you to a different world the moment you step through the Dragon’s Gate.