Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country


By Meilani Naranjo on January 04, 2014

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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Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Tripadvisor, Travel and Leisure, World's Best Awards, Andrew Harper, Grand Awards, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, Russian River Valley


By Meilani Naranjo on October 26, 2013


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Topics: wine country, Sonoma County, Tripadvisor, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, farm, Hotel, charlotte, California, Green, environment


By Meilani Naranjo on October 23, 2012

First it was Sunset Magazine and their "Napa vs. Sonoma Face-off" with the two rivals slugging it out over which wine country has "the juice" and, of course, Sonoma edged out Napa. 

We thought that it might have been a little prejudicial as Sonoma is more up Sunset's alley- they are not big on the corporate style so dominate over in that "other" wine country. On top of which the Sonoma side of the story was written by Rod Smith, husband to one of the Farmhouse Inn proprietors, Catherine Bartolomei-Smith. (Perhaps just a little partial to Sonoma and the lifestyle they enjoy here.) 

Here's an excerpt from Rod's take on Sonoma County: "The county’s 1,576 square miles are a sprawling garden of organic produce, free-range meats, and since 1824, grapes. (George Yount planted Napa’s first vines in the 1830s, using Sonoma cuttings.) Napa offers the thrill of tasting wines few can afford and eating trendy food cooked by the employees of celebrity chefs. In Sonoma, you can access countryside, towns, and tasting rooms—sans appointment—to try some of the most distinctive and innovative wines available. True, pockets have trended upscale. Limos? Check. Celebs like Lady Gaga looking to buy? Check. But at heart, this is authentic country open to visitors—casual and wine snob alike."

Even though we were excited about the article (and seeing Rod's byline) and the outcome we were hesitant to crow too loudly. But then Sunset took a vote from their readers and Sonoma won hands down (at one point the voting was 10164 votes for Sonoma against a mere 236 for Napa). Those Sunset readers really know their stuff.  So take that Napa! We are no longer the poor little sister.

But now we really do have something to crow about!  The new Travelers Choice Award for Wine country destinations just came out from TripAdvisor.  The destinations are rated by the millions of travelers that use the TripAdvisor site.  And Sonoma County came out #1 in the U.S. (yes, in front of and on top of Napa) and #2 in the WORLD (just behind Tuscany- and Napa didn't even get on the world list).  So watch out world...we are on the map!

                              The Top 5 destinations in the U.S. list:                         
                                     1.  Sonoma County, California (that's us)
                                     2.  Napa Valley
                                     3.  Willamette Valley, Ore.
                                     4.  Finger Lakes, N.Y.
                                     5.  Long Island, N.Y.
(My sister-in-law is so stoked that her native Long Island is on the list...)

                                                And the top 5 in the world:
                                                                  1.  Tuscany, Italy
                                                                  2.  Sonoma County, California (that would be us, again)
                                                                  3.  Hunter Valley, Australia
                                                                  4.  Stllenbosch, So. Africa
                                                                  5.  Mendoza Province, Argentina

TripAdvisor travelers seem to love the "laid-back, unpretentious vibe of the wineries".  In speaking with our guests we often get comments like that and many guests have told us that Sonoma reminds them of Tuscany and is what they thought the wine country is supposed to look like.

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Topics: wine country, Russian River, Sonoma County, Tripadvisor, Farmhouse Inn, California

Wine country reviews...Farmhouse food and wine!

By Meilani N on September 23, 2011

This has been a crazy week...first we had a big lifestyle article about Catherine & Joe (the brother and sister team that own the Farmhouse Inn) come out in Better Homes and Gardens ("Innkeepers Recreate Their Wine Country Childhood" -page 50).  And then on Sunday Jeff Cox of the local Press Democrat reviewed the Farmhouse restaurant  (called it an "exquisite experience").  Monday night Catherine and Joe went with the chefs to the Zagat release party and out dinner to celebrate the Zagat reviews (27 for food and tops for service- Yeah!).  And yesterday Joe came in waving the new Sunset magazine issue with the Best of the West hotel awards and there we are...again!  (Specifically mentioned for best for Food & Drink.)

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Topics: wine country, Russian River, Sonoma County, Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Michelin Star, Tripadvisor, Jeff Cox, Zagat, Farmhouse Inn, dining, California

Farmhouse - (behind) The Inn Scene

By Meilani N on May 26, 2011

I was talking to Ozzy, our newest concierge the other day.  He came to us from a large hotel over in the Napa Valley.   He asked me the one question that comes up over and over..."How did you get into innkeeping?" (My business partner would reply "Temporary insanity!)  What type of person wants to be an innkeeper anyway?   It is extremely hard work day in and day out but we all love it!  I had a conversation with a fellow innkeeper yesterday and she was frustrated with trying to keep up with the new marketing possibilities, keeping the website current, getting our arms around this whole social media thing, and now we have to go mobile too?!  Geez- we used to just have to worry about what to fix for breakfast.  

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Topics: wine country, Sonoma County, Tripadvisor, bed and breakfast, inn, Farmhouse Inn, California

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