Living and working in Sonoma County offers many benefits; one of which is that we get do all the things the press write about as being a “must do on your next visit to California’s wine country". It's no secret that summer is an amazing time of year to visit wine country and only next to harvest in terms of things to do and general excitement . Here's a few summer perks we enjoy every day : Farmers’ markets, floating on the river, Music on the Green, and an all time favorite; dining al fresco with wine and friends. The Farmhouse Inn concierge team is often asked what we would do for a perfect day in the wine country. Fear not- we’ve done it before and are excited to share the wonders of life in Sonoma County with our guests.
If you’re anything like us, the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is “where is my coffee?”
A great start to the perfect day in Sonoma would be a visit to one of the great independent bakeries found all over the county. Up in Healdsburg a local favorite is Downtown Bakery - small, unassuming, always packed with locals, they offer up some delicious pastries as well as larger breakfast plates. They can be busy so you might grab a cup of coffee at Flying Goat one block over in case there is a bit of a wait at the bakery.
Starting out in the Sebastopol or Bodega Bay direction? Do not miss Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone. The heavenly aromas of freshly baked pastries and breads float up the Bohemian Highway. This is such a popular spot you might just follow the traffic (or your nose) - there's not much else they could be going to. Just ask any local for directions- it's in a tiny, tiny town but is worth a special trip. The coffee served here will perk you up immediately.
You can't go wrong with anything at either bakery; but at Downtown you might try the sticky buns or donut muffins (no joke, that’s a real thing). At Wild Flour try their Fugase and they make this cinnamon roll (you have to see it- it's the size of a football). Purchase a baguette to take with you- you’ll be needing it later.
Coffee and pastries must be worked off; time for a walk or hike at one of our local parks. Just outside of Healdsburg is Riverfront Regional Park- with a very easy two mile loop around a lake nestled in the redwoods. It is incredibly picturesque and just across the road from Copain Winery. (It is flat so no need for hiking boots.) Further west is the Sonoma Coast with your choice of state beaches. A couple of our favorite coastal parks are Bodega Head or Goat Rock Beach. Goat Rock is in Jenner - it's a pretty drive all the way- with lots of different trail options and close to the Highway 1 and 116 exchange.
Perhaps you are in the mood for a walk/hike in the redwoods at Armstrong Redwood Park in Guerneville. (It's like walking in a cathedral.) Incredibly popular with locals and visitors alike; it's our version of Muir Woods outside of San Francisco but without so many people. There are many different levels of hiking and walking trails at Armstrong so check with the Park Rangers to find out which would best suit you. Set aside at least an hour or so for your morning walk- you have to burn off at least a bit of that donut muffin.
By this time the wineries should be open- note that it is much better to visit them early in the day as your palate is fresher and the afternoons tend to be the busiest time of day for the tasting rooms. Sonoma County has over 300 wineries to choose from so there is an option for everybody. We prefer the smaller, boutique style wineries (of which we have many) that are not quite as well known and maybe not yet on the tourist map. Appointments may be required but with advance notice we would be glad to help you with arrangements.
If you are searching out some terrific Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays then Russian River Valley is where you’ll want to be (Home base: Farmhouse Inn, perhaps?). Our favorites in the area include Gary Farrell (we love the Terrace Tasting as a first appointment), Porter Creek and Iron Horse.
If you a fan of bigger reds Alexander Valley is where Cabernet is king. We love Garden Creek- small, run by a husband/wife team and easily some of the best Cabernets in Sonoma County. Other Alexander Valley wineries on our favorites list are Medlock Ames and Stonestreet.