The ultimate picnic basket on the lawn with cheese, charcuterie, games and Jordan Chardonnay.

The Ultimate Summer Picnic Items List

There’s something charmed about sharing a delicious meal outdoors, surrounded by nature’s beauty, miles from the nearest restaurant. This is especially true in wine country, with its extraordinarily diverse tapestry of windswept coastal ridges, rolling hills, lush green valleys and majestic redwood forests. Our Sonoma County region is truly a stunning place to enjoy a picnic. While we didn’t invent the concept of simple-but-elegant outdoor dining, some might say we perfected it. Our chic, wine country picnic items list goes above the norm, providing a complete picture of what we think is the ideal set up to host the most elegant of affairs. Read on to uncover all our secrets, or join us for Picnic Lunch Day at Jordan every summer.

The word picnic comes from the French pique-nique, which loosely translates to “pick a little something.” First appearing in print in the late 17th century, the term was originally used to
describe people who carried in their own wine to drink in a restaurant. The picnic concept eventually morphed into an outdoor potluck, with each guest bringing along something for the party. While picnics were once the domain of the upper classes, they became popular with the greater population after the French Revolution, when the royal parks of Paris opened to the public. Americans, wishing to emulate the sophisticated Parisians, followed suit. By the 19th century, they had enthusiastically embraced the picnic. We obviously still do today.

The Ultimate Wine Country Picnic Items List

Our checklist includes, of course, a variety of food and drink, all easily designed to “pick a little something.“ Elevating picnic fare is an equally important consideration for an inspired, fit-for-royalty picnic. Try to incorporate local foods by hitting a nearby farmer’s market for things like local meats, fresh produce and olives. Ingredients such as nuts can also be transformed in simple ways to create unique and delicious snacks. Then consider the tablescape – incorporating your surroundings into your eating environment. We’ve got the essentials covered in our picnic items list to create a beautiful scene anywhere.

Marinated olives, pickled vegetables and spiced nuts in mason jars with Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon for a picnic
Jars filled with pork rillettes and pickled vegetables, charcuterie from Journeyman Meat Co. and Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon complete a wine country picnic.

Food & Drink

  1. Lower-alcohol, higher acid wines that pair with diverse foods. We think Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the ideal selections.
  2. Salumi from Journeyman Meat Co. or your favorite craft charcuterie purveyor. Be sure to read our post on how to create a beautiful charcuterie board.
  3. Wine-friendly cheeses, such as Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, Bellwether Farms San Andreas and French Comte
  4. Jars filled with pork rillettes, vegetable terrine and chocolate mousse for dessert
  5. Portable snacks, such as homemade, spiced nuts and pickled vegetables
  6. Fresh, seasonal fruit
  7. Citrus-marinated olives
  8. Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Mineral water
  10. Artisan baguette or your favorite bread
Setting up for a coastal picnic with a simple floral centerpiece
Get inspiration from the natural beauty of your surroundings with simple floral centerpieces and string lights.

The Tableau and How to Make Your Picnic Picture Perfect

Creating a picnic tablescape isn’t about silver candelabras and pricey stemware. It’s about making guests feel comfortable and enhancing the natural beauty of the surroundings. It begins with a natural centerpiece made from greenery and flowers foraged near the site. Keep it simple and look for succulents, simple wildflowers, eucalyptus or cypress. For the outdoor table, we prefer muted, neutral colors, and natural materials such as linen and wood mixed with rustic metal elements. Places are set with stemless wine glasses or short tumblers, real flatware, ceramic dinner plates and soft linen napkins. Hurricane lanterns and string lights complete the setting for sunset picnics. Here is our picnic items list of decoration suggestions:

  1. Peterboro Traditional Picnic Basket
  2. Turkish linen blanket and Zero-Waste cutlery wraps with bamboo silverware from Etsy
  3. Melamine plates and linen napkins from Sur La Table
  4. Cutting board and knife
  5. French mason jars with lids
  6. Reusable wine glasses
  7. Tray for placing glasses and plates on level ground
  8. Corkscrew
  9. Carafe for non-alcoholic beverages
  10. Ziplocs (for storing leftovers)
  11. Lawn games
  12. Bug spray and sunscreen
  13. Trash bag
Picnic table on the coast made from an old barn door and wooden boxes
No need to find a picnic table; make your own with an old barn door and wooden boxes.

Other Picnic Ideas

  1. Create Your Own Makeshift Table. Some of the best picnic spots are off the beaten path, with no picnic tables in sight. A couple of wine crates and a rustic, wooden door can easily be repurposed into an elegant table when surrounded with comfy cushions and throw pillows.
  2. Get Rolling Easily. If there’s too much food to fit inside a traditional picnic basket, bring along a collapsible beach wagon. Most are large enough to tote all of your edibles to the picnic site in one trip, plus dishes, glassware and other essentials.
  3. Transport and Serve in the Same Vessel. Prepare dishes in advance and pack them into Le Parfait glass jars. The jars are resealable, attractive and they make it easy for guests to pass food around the table.
  4. Keep Warm. For fall and winter picnics (even summer days can be chilly on the coast and in wine country), bring along a couple of cozy throw blankets.
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