Get Fired Up: Best Cooking Classes in Healdsburg, Sonoma and Napa
Many wine travelers looking for things to do in Sonoma County seek out the best wineries, wine tours, restaurants and outdoor activities. If you’re a food lover, cooking classes in Healdsburg, Sonoma or Napa should also be at the top of your foodie vacation must-do list. The good news is that there are more options for fun-filled cooking classes in Wine Country than ever before, especially for pastry lovers, hosted in-person and online.
Here are the best cooking class experiences (including baking classes) offered in Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Some chefs offer classes as events on set days, while others host private cooking classes in their kitchens—or they’ll share secret recipes at your Airbnb or virtually. The cooking classes scene is continuing to evolve post-pandemic, so be sure to visit all websites for the latest updates. Most offer baking and cooking classes year-round, but many classes are group events hosted on set days. Book early for your girlfriends’ getaway, anniversary trip or honeymoon activity, because cooking class events sell out quickly.
Best Sonoma Cooking Classes
A hands-on culinary adventure like those offered by Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg is not to be missed. Since 2003, Relish has been sharing its passion for cooking farm-fresh cuisine with consumers, offering epicurean excursions throughout Sonoma County wine country—first as a roving, free-range cooking school and later as an immersive cooking school with demonstration kitchen just off the Healdsburg Plaza. As the twentieth anniversary of Relish Culinary Adventures approached, del Rey made the decision to return to her pop-up, roaming cooking class roots and close the brick-and-mortar Relish Culinary Center in 2023. She will focus exclusively on hosting private cooking classes and ticketed events for up to 20 people maximum, such as her wildly popular winter fungi foraging/cooking classes, cooking at Dry Creek Peach Farm, grilling at Dragonfly Floral Farm and more. Healdsburg Farmer’s Market tour cooking classes are on pause until further notice, so be sure to visit their website for updates.
Relish Culinary Adventures, 14 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA, 707-431-9999, relishculinary.com
Wife-and-husband superstar chefs Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey left Michelin-starred SingleThread in 2020 to open Quail & Condor, not long after she was crowned the Food Network’s 2019 Season 6 Holiday Baking Champion. Even though the grab-and-go bakery’s lines have not subsided in more than two years, the owners have made room in their busy schedules to offer in-depth classes on everyday techniques practiced in the bakery. Baking classes take place on set days each month and can be booked on their website. They allow bakers 12 years and up in any class, so this is a great option for families looking for things to do in Wine Country with kids (well, teenagers). The couple makes headlines for much more than their cooking classes, so they regularly appear in What’s New in Healdsburg.
Quail and Condor, 149 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, quailandcondor.com
One of Sonoma County’s oldest running cooking schools, Ramekins closed during the pandemic, and management still working on revamping its public cooking classes. The good news is that they still take requests for private cooking classes and group team building events on their website. Located in a Spanish Mission-style building a few blocks from the historic Sonoma square, Ramekins receives rave reviews for its family- and group-friendly, hands-on classes. The boutique inn where the school is located is known for its weddings and has changed names—it’s now called Seven Branches Venue and Inn—and we hope Ramekins can bring back its themed cooking class events in the coming years.
Ramekins Culinary School, 450 West Spain Street, Sonoma, CA, 707-933-0450, ramekins.com
If you love cheese with your wine, this is the cooking class destination for you. Founder Sheana Davis is a Sonoma Valley cheesemaker, culinary educator and supporter of the artisan and farmstead cheese movement for more than 25 years. She offers in-depth cheesemaking classes to groups regularly on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. She shares teaching responsibilities with her husband, Ben Sessions, a wine educator and fellow expert. The duo also offers private in-person, as well as virtual, cheesemaking classes, butter making and other culinary classes for foodies and companies seeking interactive culinary experiences. This sounds like a much better idea for a bachelorette party than drinking White Zinfandel at Sutter Home in Napa Valley.
The Epicurean Connection, 19670 8th St E, Sonoma, CA, epicureanconnection.com
Williams-Sonoma’s flagship store is one of the few in the country offering private, in-person cooking classes. The store opened in 2014 and features a grand island for cooking classes up to seven people. Prices vary based on the culinary experience, all led by Williams-Sonoma in-house chef. If you’re staying in Sonoma, Glen Ellen, Carneros or downtown Napa, it’s situated in the perfect location for a private cooking class for your girls’ getaway trip, a family reunion or a couples’ date idea. Online classes are also offered.
Williams-Sonoma, 605 Broadway, Sonoma, CA, williams-sonoma.com
Central Milling of Petaluma is part farmer, part miller and part baker. They supply high-quality grains to top chefs and bakers in the area, and they also opened an Artisan Baking Center at their corporate headquarters in 2017. They are located in an office park, but don’t let that deter you. Their state-of-the-art baking research and development center serves as a culinary education facility for a series of in-person and online baking classes. So, if you’re not ready to sign-up for a class while in Sonoma County, try one of their online cooking classes first. Online classes (around $50) are led by chefs from around the world, such as Didier Rosada and François Brunet, and in-person baking classes and workshops topics range from milling and baking to artistic design, chocolate desserts, pasta making and other culinary techniques (around $150 per person). Whether you’re a home baker or a seasoned pro, the Artisan Baking Center has classes tailored to different skill levels. They also specialize in private cooking classes for groups or team building events.
Central Milling, 1120 Holm Road, Petaluma, CA, centralmilling.com
Sur La Table’s location in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village offers private and group cooking classes with topics ranging from artisan bread baking, cookie making and gnocchi making to fancy date night recipes and ethic cooking from many different countries. Some classes are 18+ while others welcome foodies ages 14-17, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Sur La Table, 2323 Magowan Drive, Santa Rosa, CA, surlatable.com
Best Napa Cooking Classes
The pioneer of Napa cooking classes, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) offered hands-on training for chefs and consumers alike at its Greystone campus in St. Helena for decades. Over time, demand for cooking classes outgrew their historic stone building, and they purchased COPIA in downtown Napa in 2016 with the goal of relocating all of the CIA consumer cooking classes there. After two years of building out a dream kitchen for hands-on classes, CIA at COPIA opened in 2019—and we know what happened soon after. Now that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, experiencing a cooking class at CIA at COPIA is definitely an item for your Napa Valley bucket list. There’s a vibrant program for consumers of various skill levels and interests, from three-hour classes (prices start at $250 per person) to five-day Boot Camps (around $3,000 per person). The one-day Basic Training Boot Camp is one of their most popular classes, which dives deep into classic cooking techniques. Cuisine specific classes, such as Mediterranean and plant-based, also draw crowds. CIA at COPIA’s pop-up series, featuring award-winning international and alumni chefs, is expanding in 2023, and dates will be announced on their website. COPIA is more than a cooking school, so be sure to set aside extra time to explore the restaurant, café, wine bar and the grounds.
CIA at COPIA, 500 1st Street, Napa, CA, 707-967-2500, ciaatcopia.com
There’s another academic campus in Napa offering cooking classes to hobby enthusiasts, not just students. Consumer cooking class attendees are combined into groups or can work individually under the direction of their professionally trained chefs. Classes are kept small, allowing for a good amount of one-on-one team with the instructor. Recent class themes included Filipino cooking, sushi making, masa, American desserts, wine and cheese pairing and many more. Prices start around $175 per person, and tickets are sold via Eventbrite through their website.
Napa Valley Cooking School (Upper Valley Campus), 1088 College Ave, St. Helena, CA, 707-302-2452, napavalleycookingschool.org
During the pandemic, three local chefs and two industry friends decided to funnel their energy into a new kind of cooking school in Napa and launched PLAYTE Kitchen. They offer in-person and virtual cooking classes with a weekly events calendar featuring topics, such as Spanish tapas, handmade pastas, Thai cooking, ricotta cheese making and classic sauce making. Prices range from $30 for virtual classes to $150 per person for in-person classes. Private cooking classes are also available. The chefs also offer recipe development and food photography services using their stylish kitchen as a backdrop.
PLAYTE Kitchen, 1100 Lincoln Ave Suite 202-A, Napa, CA, 707-492-5789, playtekitchen.com
Considered one of the best Napa cooking schools, Silverado Cooking School offers hands-on cooking experiences led by professionally trained chefs. Owner/Chef Malcolm De Sieyes, who teaches both private events and public cooking classes, centers the seasonal menus around fresh ingredients right from his farm, located just a few miles from the cooking school. Themes include knife skills, Spanish tapas, pie making, holiday hors d’oeuvres, pasta making and more. The public classes are geared towards adults and teens ages 16-plus and are limited to up to 14 people. Private events can accommodate up to 24 guests with a customized experience and menu. Many companies book these Napa cooking experiences as team-building exercises for employees. After the dishes are completed, everyone joins together at a communal table to enjoy the meal together. Many local wines are available for purchase to compliment the menu.
Silverado Cooking School, 1552 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-927-3591, silveradocookingschool.com
Since 2005, Julie has been teaching Napa Valley cooking classes, and sadly, she lost her kitchen partner during the pandemic. But she is still offering private cooking classes upon request at your home, your vacation rental or another partner venue.
Cooking with Julie, Napa, CA, 707-227-5036, cookingwithjulie.com
Cooking Classes By Private Chefs
Several chefs with small catering companies also offer private educational classes in addition to cooking for private events. They include Carlo Cavallo, the former corporate executive chef for Giorgio Armani & Louis Vuitton; chefs Laura and Eric Lee, who met while cooking at Simi Winery and have been cooking as a couple ever since; Gerry Castro of Castro Catering, offers private cooking classes in both Napa and Sonoma valleys; and many local chefs featured on TakeAChef.com can also be booked for private cooking classes in your home or vacation rental.