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Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

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California coast, Jenner

With summer quickly approaching many people are making their vacation plans. Whether you’re living in California now or plan on visiting, a road trip up or down California’s coastline should be on your bucket list. We recommend you take a week to explore everything from Northern California’s wine country to Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn and all the little gems in between. We’ve put together our dream California coast road trip to share and hopefully inspire you to do your own. We’ll begin at the top and work our way down with some trip highlights.

Start in Sonoma County- many people don’t realize this but Sonoma has its own regional airport with direct flights to/from San Diego, LAX, Portland and Seattle. 

Once you’ve arrived head over to the Farmhouse Inn to check in for at least a 2 night stay in the wine country. Enjoy a glass of wine on your private balcony, unwind from a day of travel and head down to the Farmhouse Restaurant for a fantastic dinner with wine pairings. Begin the following morning with the famous Farmhouse breakfast before you head out for a day of exploring. 

Swing by Armstrong Redwoods for a quick hike, down to the Russian River for some kayaking and out to Jenner for a glass of champagne and oysters at River’s End. Return to Farmhouse for a little self-indulgence: a spa treatment with steam shower sounds about right. If you’re wiped out from a big day then we recommend an in-room picnic- stop by the Front Desk to check out their wares. The following morning its off to Highway 1 after another amazing breakfast.

Take Highway 116 from the Farmhouse through the Russian River area out to the Sonoma Coast and Highway 1. Make a quick stop at Goat Rock Beach to stretch your legs and work off some of that breakfast. As you wind down Highway 1 enjoy a crab sandwich at one of the highway shacks. Stop in Bodega Bay for some sight seeing and to enjoy the town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.” As Highway 1 curves in you’ll come to Tomales Bay, home to Hog Island Oysters. It is on our list of must-see stops. We recommend making an appointments but you can drop in without one.  As you finish the day’s driving you’ll arrive at the stunning and historic Cavallo Point for a 2 night stay. Be sure to dine in the Murray Circle Restaurant and to try out the spa at least once during your visit.




rosso rosticceria eventi

If you’ve been to Sonoma wine country before than you know that it seems to be an ever changing mix of new wineries, restaurants, shops and places to stay. That propensity to constantly be changing and being on the cutting edge of what is new won’t be any different this summer as new restaurants, tasting rooms and even old fashion ice cream and pie shops open up. From Sebastopol to Healdsburg there are exciting new businesses coming in time for summer and we can’t wait to sample them ourselves. We decided to focus on three in particular- we want to pique your interest in hopes that you’ll visit soon!

Established in 2009, Rosso Pizzeria in downtown Santa Rosa has been a local’s favorite from the day they opened. So popular in fact that they now have a mobile pizza oven and have been catering events all over Sonoma County for the last several years. They were a hit at the Farmhouse Inn Christmas party a few years ago. Their newest venture will open in Santa Rosa but will be a new take on their other 2 restaurants- a mix of food, ping pong and cooking classes. What really sets it apart from their other two restaurants is the new location’s offerings and hours. Unlike the downtown Santa Rosa and Petaluma locations, Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi will be open for early diners beginning at 7 am and closing at 6 pm. They’ll also only be a Monday through Friday location. Offering espresso, pastries, pizzas and ping pong the new location is sure to appeal to the local set- that’s why we’re telling you - check out the wine country like a local.  Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi opens this month and we’ll be sure give it a try and fill you in on an upcoming post on Facebook; be sure to keep checking for our review.

The Barlow in downtown Sebastopol opened  about a year ago with a few wineries, a bakery and some distilleries. It is now in full swing with restaurants, a local market, coffee houses, art galleries and a lot of great events. One of the official Farmhouse Winery Partners, La Follette Winery, opened in the spring of 2013. Another unofficial winery friend is Wind Gap Wines and we’re incredibly excited to see their tasting room open at the end of April, beginning of May. Wind Gap is a favorite of Farmhouse Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, who features several of their wines on the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant Wine List. Their “new” style of winemaking is popular with younger wine drinkers and local wine critic Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle). Wind Gap offers a wide range of wines from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley. Their claim to fame may be their skin-fermented white wines- skin fermentation often causes the wines to take on an orange hue and can really change the aromatics and body of a wine. While this technique is not new to the world of wine, it is a technique that hasn’t been popular in American wine culture until recently. Wind Gap’s wines are very high in demand so if you do visit their tasting room,  don’t be surprised to hear that many of their 2012 and 2013 wines are already sold out. We recommend stopping by on your next visit to the area and get on join their mailing list.

Our last teaser for new offerings in Sonoma is located in Healdsburg. This one is especially near and dear to us as it is the second shop for Moustache Baked Goods, a Farmhouse favorite. We often work with Moustache on special occasion baked goods for our guests, as well as the occasional dessert bar for staff parties. Their current shop on the square in Healdsburg offers everything from cupcakes to macaroons and Blue Bottle coffee drinks. If you haven’t visited yet we are telling you not to miss it on your next trip and take some items home to share. Their newest venture is Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. They’ll be offering up truly unique ice cream flavors as well seasonal pies. If the shop is anything like the bakery we can’t wait to see what they come up with. 

For more insider tips on discovering our Sonoma county secrets be sure to contact your concierge today. For up to date news on happenings at Farmhouse Inn and in the area follow and like us on Facebook. We hope to see you at the Farmhouse Inn soon.


Andrew Harper Grand Awards 2014

As we mentioned last week, 2013 was a year for the record books at the Farmhouse Inn. Not only did our fans vote for us on Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best List but we came in at #38 in the world.   Our restaurant team was invited to fly to New York and prepare a Sonoma wine country dinner at the James Beard House. And to cap off the year  Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report featured us with extremely high ratings after his anonymous review and we are now an Andrew Harper member.


Like we said, a hard year to top but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try. 2014 has already kicked off with a great start and things just keep getting better. With everything from the Andrew Harper Grand Awards to a partnership in Tuscany, Italy, we’re looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year with bring. Here’s a roundup of 2014 so far and things to come.

At the beginning of each year Andrew Harper  announces their Grand Award winners. The Grand Awards are selected by Andrew Harper and to be considered “properties must be relatively small in size, possess strong individual personalities, offer relaxing atmospheres and demonstrate a consistent devotion to personal service.” The Farmhouse Inn was one of seven winners of a Grand Award in North America and one of three from California. This honor was a great surprise to us here at the Farmhouse Inn and extra special since we had joined Andrew Harper only a few months before. We’re delighted to be partnered with Andrew Harper and we hope the good news keeps on coming!

Before the end of 2013 the Farmhouse Inn was approached by Travel and Leisure’s #2 pick from their 2013 World’s Best Hotels list, Castello di Casole in Tuscany. Castello di Casole is a 4,200 acre historic property with a 41 room boutique hotel in the heart of Tuscany. Castello di Casole was looking for another world-class property to partner with on creating a culinary fanatic’s dream vacation. The answer was "yes,of course" (would you have said no?!). Out of the original request a six day culinary extravaganza has emerged and we couldn’t be more excited. This June Farmhouse Inn owners, Catherine and Joe, will bring a bit of Farmhouse Inn (including Executive Chef Steve Litke and Master Sommelier, Geoff Kruth) to Castello di Casole for everything from winery dinners to pizza making and more. June is one of the most popular months to visit Italy, so if you’re just starting to think about your summer vacation plans be sure to check out this package. Space is extremely limited. All reservations may be booked through the Timbers Group. We hope to see you there! Salute!

If you can’t make it to Italy than we sure hope you can make it to the Russian River to visit us here at the Farmhouse Inn! Both Conde Nast and the Wine Enthusiast listed the Russian River Valley as one of the top wine and food destinations of 2014. What could you possibly want out of a vacation that we don't have? The Sonoma Coast, the Russian River Valley, hiking, biking, wine tasting (300+ wineries), fabulous restaurants, farms, art galleries, shopping and much more. We were running out of breath on that one or we would have kept going. If you're considering a trip to California's wine country then trust us and Conde Nast and the Wine Enthusiast- you don't want to miss the Russian River Valley.


To wrap up our roundup we’ll circle back to Travel and Leisure. In 2014 they released their World’s Best 500 Hotels list for the year. This list gives each hotel a rating based on a 100 point system. The scores come from Travel and Leisure voters and once again the Farmhouse fans came through for us! With a score of 94.09 the Farmhouse Inn was #38 in the top 50 in the World and it was the first time we’d made the list. We can’t wait to see where we end up next year and we truly appreciate each and every person who voted for us. If you’re up for it one more time, here is the link to this year’s Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best Survey: (Hint: You'll find us listed under Sonoma- just in case you wanted to throw a vote our way.)

Oh. and just one more thing we are super excited about...we have just joined Preferred Hotel Group as part of their Preferred Boutique Collection. You will find us there soon as part of this collection of the very best small luxury hotels in the world.


Farmhouse Inn


2013 was an exceptional year for many reasons but for the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant some of the press and accolades that came our way this last year were truly amazing.  Our guests made some of it happen for us but we were featured in quite a few distinctive press pieces too.  Here's a hint of just a few of them and more detail to the end (we have a special request).



You know how excited we are about romance and it was great to be recognized as a top mini-moon destination by Martha Stewart in July. Then right on the heels of that came the announcement that our guests had voted us #38 in the World on Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best Hotels list. This was our debut on the list so you can imagine how excited we were. We shared the celebration with our guests...the champagne was flowing the whole month of August.



In Spring our restaurant team
(and owners, Joe
and Catherine)
flew to New York
to prepare a big
dinner at the
James Beard House,
something that
all culinary professionals have
on their bucket

It was quite an honor to be invited.

Here's Joe, Chef Steve,
Catherine, Pattie, and Neil
hanging out in New York.



The excitement continued with a feature in Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, something we’ve been hoping for since we purchased the Inn in 2001. We are not quite sure when he visited but he gave us a score of 94 on his anonymous review (and the highest score from his visit to Northern California). It was a big surprise for us (a very nice one).

Those are just a few of the highlights from 2013; it was a phenomenal year for us and looks quite impressive when you see the whole list on our press page on the Farmhouse Inn website. Here's a bit more detail on the most exciting events in 2013 for Farmhouse Inn. 

To be voted to Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best list at all is quite an honor, but to debut at #38 in the World is truly stunning. We couldn’t have done it without our Farmhouse guest's support. The voting window for the list is every January through March and those fans that voted for us made our debut on the list splashier than we ever could have dreamed of.  Not only were we on the Best Hotel in the World list, but we were also voted as the #3 BEST Inn in the United States. For some perspective other hotels on the World’s Best list included Castello di Casole in Tuscany (we’ll circle back to them next week) and The Peninsula Beverly Hills. Nice company; we were truly honored to be included on this list of  world-class properties and we hope our fans do it for us again in 2014! If you haven’t voted yet we hope you do before the voting closes in two weeks because we hope to celebrate with our fans again this summer!


In April of 2013 our Restaurant Team (Chef Steve Litke, Sous Chef Neil Corsten, Pastry Chef Pattie Taan, and Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth) all flew to New York to prepare a meal at the renowned James Beard House. To be invited to the James Beard House is something that chefs dream about and we couldn’t have been more excited to have received the invitation. The menu was beautiful, the Sonoma County wines Geoff selected were a perfect compliment to each course, and the attendees were ideal dining companions. After several days of too much good food, sight seeing and soaking up New York we headed back to California and started planning how we could do that trip all over again. No plan for a New York repeat yet, but just to stimulate your foodie brain click here for last year’s Farmhouse Inn at the James Beard House menu. And on your next visit to the Farmhouse be sure to checkout the wineries that were featured at this dinner.


For those of you not familiar with Andrew Harper a good introduction to them is a look at the  Hideaway Report, a publication released every month focusing on 1 to 3 travel destinations around the world. The Hideaway Report is highly respected as a source for travelers, much like wine lovers refer to Wine Spectator. What we love about Andrew Harper is their amazing attention to detail, their honest reviews in the Hideaway Report and their truly excellent customer service. The Farmhouse Inn was included in the May 2013 Hideaway Report in a larger piece, “A Blissful Road Through California’s Wine Lands”. A quick peek at what they had to say: “Butter-yellow clapboard siding, shuttered windows and a front veranda make it look country simple at first glance, but it is also wonderfully sophisticated, seamlessly merging the rural and the contemporary.” Makes us want to spend the night! We feel so lucky to be a part of Andrew Harper and look forward to an amazing 2014 with them. Be sure to read next week’s blog that will share the Andrew Harper Grand Awards (could Farmhouse Inn be there?).


Enough about stellar 2013;  we have a lot of work to do to make sure that 2014 surpasses it. Next week we’ll talk about things to come in 2014 including a partnership with an amazing property in Italy (yes, you are invited), the Andrew Harper Grand Awards and the 2014 Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best list. One more plug and we’re done, we promise: Vote for Farmhouse on TL’s World’s Best Survey! Click here to go to the survey. (Hint: we are listed under Sonoma County)


budbreak in Sonoma County


We don't usually see the beginning of the grape harvest until August (our busiest time in the wine country), but spring in Sonoma Wine Country is pretty busy and just about our favorite time of year.  All around the Russian River Valley we see vineyard crews pruning vines getting ready for the growing season. The worst of winter is over and Spring is just getting ready to bust out all over.


I just heard about the first hints of budbreak from a couple of the wineries. Hold your breath now...the vineyards can't stand any hard freezes during this time. You wouldn't think something like this would get us all excited but just look...the beginnings of that amazing wine in your glass.



Gary Farrell Winery

At the Farmhouse Inn we are lucky to work with some truly great partners that make every visit to the wine country an amazing experience.  From our Winery Partners to our Spa Team, and our favorite bicycle guide and transportation company, the Farmhouse Inn has cultivated some of the best relationships in Wine Country.  If you haven’t stayed with us yet or you have an upcoming reservation we hope that you get to meet some of these people and that you have the chance to indulge in the wonderful experiences we have to offer in Sonoma County.  We decided that it would be a good idea to tell you a little bit about each of them. And if you’re looking to book any of these experiences don’t hesitate to contact a Farmhouse Inn Concierge; we’re happy to share some of secrets of the wine country with you!





best of Sonoma Wine country


We've been seeing Sonoma Wine Country featured in both the local and national press quite often lately.  Whether discussing wine destination regions, reviewing up and coming winemakers or focusing on sustainability practices, recent press mentioning Sonoma has inspired us to do a roundup just in case you missed something.



Russian River Valley


If you haven’t checked your calendar since the New Year, than you may not have realized that Valentine’s Day is less than a month from now. Not to worry - if you haven’t started planning yet...because Farmhouse Inn is declaring the whole month of February as the Month of Romance.  Tell your significant other that you don't want to limit the celebration of your love to a single day- you want to celebrate all month long- then sneak in a little trip to the wine country.



Sonoma Wine country

This is the time of year when we reflect on the trials and tribulations of the past year.  What a list! Sonoma County has been getting much noticed as a desired destination but nothing has topped the "#1 Wine Destination in the U.S." by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards - Napa Valley was #2 in the U.S. (and Sonoma was voted second in the World- right behind Tuscany at #1- I guess we can live with that).  


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