7 wineries where the food is as good as the booze

By Christina Mueller

Del Dotto

A visit to a winery is one of Northern California’s true epicurean pleasures, and more of these destinations than ever are now amping up the experience with the most welcome appearance of wine’s natural partner: food. With everything from full multi-course sit-down meals to smaller bites and more casual sips and nibbles, the options in wine country today are as diverse as they are delicious. One thing is for sure: Your wine adventure never tasted so good.

Freemark Abbey
With the finishing touches nearly complete, the renovation at Freemark Abbey has beautifully preserved its iconic, century-old stone building and launches the property into wine’s future with the opening of a new wine library and an on-site restaurant, Two Birds/One Stone. Led by acclaimed Napa chef Douglas Keane (Cyrus) and chef Sang Yoon of LA’s Father’s Office and Lukshon, Two Birds/One Stone brings California-inspired yakitori to unexpected heights. Dishes like duck egg custard with lemon verbena and uni, or foie gras parfait with cherry blossom gelée, buckwheat groats, and sakura salt are the norm here. The eclectic and international wine and cocktail list, Developed by Master Sommelier Kevin Reilly, reinforces the cosmopolitan tone.
Where: 3020 St. Helena Highway N., St. Helena, CA 94574
Phone: 800-963-9698 (winery); 707-302-3777 (restaurant)
What’s What: reservations and walk-ins welcome
Hours: tasting room 10 AM–5 PM daily
Two Birds/One Stone Thu–Mon 5 PM–9 PM; closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 60 minutes

Patz & Hall
Not far from downtown Sonoma is Patz & Hall’s Sonoma House, where “The Salon Experience” awaits. Six chardonnay and pinot noir single vineyard–designate wines are paired with canapés and small bites. For summer, that means a menu of crispy wonton with French onion and tobiko-smoked trout tuile, fennel pork nacho on forbidden rice, or a short rib torchon with huckleberry, all crafted by Natalie and Jonathan Niksa of nearby La Saison. With sweeping views of the estate’s vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains, the Salon Experience at Sonoma House captures the spirit of the region.
Where: 21200 8th St. E., Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-265-7700
What’s What: reservations required
Hours: Thu–Mon seatings at 10:30 AM, 1 PM, and 3:30 PM by appointment only; closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 45 minutes

Del Dotto Vineyards
At Del Dotto Vineyards, the “Delicacies” experience begins in the caves, where a host guides a barrel tasting of four wines. You’ll then walk past the Italianate marble and glowing chandeliers of the tasting lounge to a more secluded upstairs salon, where a seat at the large mahogany table awaits. Here, you’ll experience the tranquility and elegance of a five-course tasting menu designed by chef de cuisine Joshua Schwartz, whose menu of high-end proteins like American Wagyu beef–black truffle slider, and a Maine lobster roll with toasted brioche match the glamour of the vineyard’s Venetian estate.
Where: 1445 Saint Helena Hwy. S., Saint Helena, CA 94574
Phone: 707-963-2134
What’s What: reservations required
Hours: Thu–Sat seatings at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM (through September)
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 75 minutes

St. Francis Winery
Voted the number one restaurant in America by Open Table diners in 2013 and 2015, St. Francis Wineries Wine & Food Pairing program has truly hit its stride. An assortment of small dishes from executive chef Bryan Jones, such as pan-seared arctic char with chorizo and grilled onions, or elderflower panna cotta with sous vide vanilla apricots, tempt even the most indifferent palate, while the killer views and intimate communal dining seal the deal.
Where: 100 Pythian Rd. (at Hwy. 12), Santa Rosa, CA 95409
Phone: 800-675-9463 (winery); 707-833-0240 (food pairings reservations)
What’s What: reservations required
Hours: Thu–Mon seatings at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM; closed Tuesday and Wednesday;
Winery 10 AM–5 PM daily
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 80 minutes

Traffic on route 29 in Napa can make St. Helena seem as far away as Seattle, but the folks at Brasswood make it worth the trip. A bakery, deli, restaurant, wine lounge, tasting room, and gallery on premises make it conceivable to while away an entire day without moving more than 100 feet across the well-manicured lawns. The recently reimagined Brasswood Bar and Kitchen features executive chef David Nuño’s (Tra Vigne) Californian-by-way-of-Italy dishes. A refreshed green apple risotto with confit of duck leg has loyal advocates, while a marvelously marbled, dry-aged bistecca alla Fiorentina will knock the socks off of any steakhouse fan.
Where: 31111 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, CA 94574
Phone: 707-302-5997 (tasting room); 707-302-5997 (restaurant); 707-302-5104 (bar and bakery)
What’s What: reservations and walk-ins welcome
Hours: restaurant noon–9 PM daily; tasting room 10 AM–5 PM daily; bar and bakery 9 AM–5 PM daily
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 75 minutes

Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Lauded with awards, including Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef,” Maria Helm Sinskey anchors the culinary experiences at her husband’s vineyard. Grab a seat in either the great hall, the terrace, or the fig garden to experience Eat Drink RSV, a hosted tasting that pairs Robert’s wines with Maria’s seasonal small plates. Summer’s treats include gougères stuffed with a porcini Mornay sauce, summer garden tartlets, and savory Parmesan shortbread with organic fruit jam from the vineyard’s orchards. A visit to meet the sheep grazing in the vineyards promises one way to finish up the day—or not.
Where: 6320 Silverado Tr., Napa, CA 94558
Phone: 707-944-9090
What’s What: reservations required
Hours: winery 10 AM–4:30 PM daily; The Communal Table is by appointment only
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 50 minutes

Lynmar Estate
Served in the tasting room courtyard overlooking the Quail Hill Vineyard and Estate gardens, the seasonal, three-course, farm-to-table Lynmar Lunch crafted by chef David Frakes features dishes made mostly with estate-grown ingredients, masterfully prepared with Lynmar Estate wines. Lunch begins with a bowl of organic popcorn sprinkled with lemon infused olive oil and roasted beet and lavender thyme salt. A salad of heirloom tomato and aged chèvre topped with toasted, puffed quinoa gives way to summer vegetable beggar’s purses brimming with grilled skirt steak and local ricotta served alongside olive confit. To conclude, guests have the choice between a savory local cheese or a sweet treat prepared by the chef. It’s enough to make even the most finicky foodie sigh with contentment.
Where: 3909 Frei Rd., Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: 707-829-3374, ext. 102
What’s What: reservations required
Hours: Thu–Sun 10 AM–4:30 PM by appointment only (The Lynmar Lunch is offered April through October)
Drive from San Francisco (with traffic): 75 minutes

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