Play: The wineries of Kenwood are part of the Sonoma Valley AVA. The appellation is bordered by the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west.
In any wine region, it’s often challenging to decide which tasting rooms to visit. This time, we chose those with full-time chefs offering food and wine pairings.
We started our culinary and wine adventure at Mayo Family Winery, specializing in single vineyard wines. At their Reserve Room in Kenwood, we experienced seven wines paired with a scrumptious seven-course tasting menu. It’s an intimate setting with vineyards views. Highlights from the seasonal menu include the 2008 Reserve Barbera, Kunde Ranch Vineyard with California yellowtail filet, tomato orzo and tobiko caviar; the 2007 Reserve Meritage “Oliver’s Twist” Napa Valley (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) accompanied by grilled New York strip steak, asparagus and couscous and the 2009 Reserve Zinfandel Ricci Vineyards Russian River paired with grilled pork tenderloin, turnips and blue cheese steel cut oats.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards is at the north end of Kenwood. With an emphasis on green practices, all of their grapes are grown in Sonoma County. At their picturesque location surrounded by vineyards and mountains, we sat at a communal table and relished five wines paired with five culinary delights. Favorites included seared white sea bass with English peas, bacon and green garlic broth with the 2011 Chardonnay Behler, Sonoma County; Sichuan style slow roasted pork shoulder with fava leaves and charred yams served with the 2009 Zinfandel, Amann Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley and for dessert, chocolate mascarpone cheesecake with raspberry whipped cream paired with the 2010 Port, Sonoma County.
If you’re interested in tasting olive oil, stop at Figone’s of California Olive Oil Company. From the Persian lime infused oil to the Tuscan blend, you’ll find luscious oils and balsamic vinegars as well as olive oil based body products.
When it’s time to exercise (on foot or horseback), head to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Explore more than 20 miles of trails that wind through the forest and past a 25 foot waterfall (after winter rains). There’s a campground near Sonoma Creek at 1,200 feet. Climb 2729 feet to the summit of Bald Mountain. You can also visit Ferguson Observatory, the largest in the western United States.
For a more staid outdoor experience, try Alder, Shaw or Plaza Park – all three located not too far off Sonoma Highway. Next to Plaza Park is the historic Kenwood Depot. From1888 to 1934, it was the main railroad station in central Sonoma Valley.
When it’s time for pampering, The Spa at Kenwood Inn delivers with its focus on vinotherapy and restoring the vitality of your mind and body. Products and treatments target all the right places guaranteeing a relaxing experience. Lounging at one of the pools, beverage in hand, is also an option.
Shop: Swede’s Feeds advertises they have everything under the sun for your pet and garden needs. One look at the products and goods they have for sale, and you know they’re serious. Find great garden art, birdhouses, plants and more.
Wineries and other tasting rooms hope you’ll buy their products and other goodies when you visit, so don’t disappoint. Kenwood Village Market has everything for a picnic in the park or a hike in the hills (707) 833-5053).
OTHER ESSENTIALS: Sonoma County Visitors Bureau; Sonoma County Vintners
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb