There are countless ways to see the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country- most of them require a thirst for some of the best wines in the world, a hunger for great eats and appreciation for the simple marriage between country and chic. "Sonomads" are those who embrace the wanderlust of Sonoma County, and no one knows more about that than our Farmhouse Inn Concierge team. As your personal concierges, we're always seeking out the most exciting, exquisite and extravagant ways to get out and explore Sonoma Wine Country!
We've given you the best ways to see Sonoma County by air, but with such a strong agricultural industry here, we'd be silly not to tell you about the 10 best ways to see Sonoma County Farms. There is a reason Sonoma Wine Country is such a foodie destination- we understand what it means to eat locally and can grow just about anything here!
Start with last month's Artisan Cheese Festival in Santa Rosa, where we met the cheese makers, toured the creameries and indulged in all that cheesey goodness! Keep your eye on next year's Inaugural Meet the Cheesemakers event featuring specialty cheeses, beers and wines, and the Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition where over 25 cheesemakers and restaurant chefs pair up to melt your mind like fondue with their delicious cheesey creations.
If you missed the cheese festival, there are still tons of ways to get your fix of every day farm life here in Sonoma Wine Country. So here are 10 of the best ways to follow the Sonoma County Farm Trail (follow the rainbow).
Whether you want to try your hand at milking a cow, see how cheese and butter are made, or just want to pet the baby calves, there's a dairy or creamery in Sonoma County that delivers exactly what you're looking for.
1. McClelland's Dairy is a Sonoma County Organic family operated dairy that offers tours typically once a month for $15 per person over 13 years of age. Join them to learn the history of the farm and family, pet their baby cows, and watch their herd of dairy cows being milked in the milk parlor. You can also sample their decadent european style butter and take some home for your own family!
2. Petaluma Creamery & Spring Hill Jersey Cheese are certified organic producers of hand crafted, artisan estate cheese. Since Jersey cows produce milk with higher fat content then any other breed, the rich Jersey cheese is exceptionally flavorful and creamy. They feature a wide range of cheeses including cheddar and jack in their traditional forms, or naturally flavored with herbs and spices such as crushed pepper, pesto and garlic. Join them after the Butter & Egg Day Parade on April 27th, 2013 at their Petaluma creamery for 10% off any cheese product or a free kids' scoop of ice cream!
3. Pug's Leap Cheese at White Whale Farm demonstrates that not all cheeses are created equal. These producers of fine Goat cheeses took over from the original owners in 2010, and continue to sell their delightful cheeses at local farmers markets. Give them a call if you're interested in taking a tour and meeting the goats!
4. Preston Winery and Farm is tucked into the northwest corner of Dry Creek Valley and produces such a wide variety of crops and livestock, they are a must-see Sonoma County Farm. Not only do they produce stellar wines, but their biodynamic and organic farm produces everything you'd need for a great meal- from eggs and bacon to olive oil and fresh baked bread. Preston also produces tons of fruits and vegetables, tree nuts and their own grains. The farmstand is open next to the Preston tasting room, and you can catch them at the Healdsburg Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings.
5. Tara Firma Farms is a seasonal Produce and Meat CSA in Petaluma, California and is operated by Tara and Craig Smith. This duo is living proof of their motto that brings the "Meet Your Local Farmer" slogan to life. "Grow the mind to grow the soil to grow the food that strengthens the community". Their commitment to beyond organic seasonal produce and pasture raised meats, coupled with a continuing education program set them apart from may other farms in the county. Visit them every Saturday and Sunday for a farm tour at 10am, 12 noon and 2pm and a glimpse at why it really is better to know your farmers!
6. Green String Farm: Just off Lakeville Highway in Petaluma on the way to the town of Sonoma lies a vegetable oasis with produce so fresh it should be slapped. Green String Farm's focus is biodiversity in the field and on the plate, with winter citrus, greens and spring celery, garlic and onions available now. Visit any time of the year though for a list of seasonal produce that includes delicious summer stone fruits, fabulous peppers and tomatoes, and yummy winter greens and gourds for the colder months. They also offer free farm tours every Saturday at 12:00 noon if you'd like to see how your food is grown before you take it home!
7. Dragonfly Farm: If you are looking for the most inspired, creative and beautiful floral arrangements for a wedding, party or just a table arrangement for home, there is no better place to go than Dragonfly Floral and Farm. Mother-daughter owned, their flowers are grown on 5 acres just outside of downtown Healdsburg. Dragonfly is an oasis for anyone who'd fancy a stroll along the rows of roses or amongst the willow circle, and allows entire families to enjoy the picnic grounds while young ones amble after the ducks that roam freely about the property. Their arrangements utilize the soft, traditional flowers we all love while adding drama and texture with out-of-the-ordinary material like succulents or basil flowers. Stop by daily to visit the shop and for a self-guided tour of the gardens, or pop in on Lazy Sundays for a help yourself flower bar (payment is on the honor system).
8. Luther Burbank Gardens & Home and Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiemental Farm: The home and experimental farm of one of the most famous botanists in US history lies just down the road from Farmhouse Inn. If you've ever enjoyed a Russet Potato, a Santa Rosa Plum, or planted Shasta Daisies in your garden, you have Luther Burbank to thank for it. Early on, he was inspired by Charles Darwin's Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication and eventually developed hundreds of plant varietals in his 50 year career. You can visit the Gold Ridge Farm daily for a drop in, self-guided tour or visit his home and gardens in downtown Santa Rosa from Tuesday thru Sunday for a guided tour at 10:00am. Luther knew what he was talking about, when he said "I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as nature is concerned." Amen.
But Sonoma County farms are even more diverse than those! Check out these unusul farms...
9. Hog Island Oyster Farm (okay, technically in Marin, but you have to drive on Sonoma County backroads to get there..)
Ever wondered what it takes to grow your own oysters? Well these guys can tell you all about it over a tray of freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, preferablly doused in their very own "Hog Wash". The farm is tucked into the protected cove of Tomales Bay in Marshall, California and their picnic tables are available for reservations if you are keen to head out for a day by the bay. Your picnic table includes a grill, the tools to shuck your own oysters and Friday thru Monday The Boat is open so you can purchase local cheeses, charcuterie, beer and wine to compliment your picnic!