Five Fabulous Winery Patios for Al Fresco Wine & Food Pairing in Sonoma
A few of our favorite Sonoma wineries with food
Eating and drinking is always on the agenda in Sonoma County’s vine-carpeted corner of Northern California, and visitors’ desires to nosh and swirl with sunshine on their shoulders and grapevines in their sights continue to rise. Here are five must-see Sonoma wineries with food pairings served on Instagram-worthy patios all summer long. Many travelers seek out Sonoma wineries with restaurants (Francis Ford Coppola and Russian River Vineyards aee technically the only ones), but Jordan, St. Francis, Chalk Hill, Lynmar, J, Mayo Family, Kendall-Jackson, Ram’s Gate and Rodney Strong all have full-time chefs. These wineries offer some of the best food and wine pairings in Sonoma County.
Alfresco Wine & Food Pairing at Sonoma Wineries
John Jordan has reimagined the idea of patio pairings, creating an excursion where guests sip and taste across his 1,200-acre estate in Alexander Valley. Two Jordan Chardonnay vintages, garden-driven food pairings and Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil are served on a stone island under towering blue oaks that overlook a tranquil lake (pictured above). The culmination of the four-location Estate Tour & Tasting is a seated food and wine tasting at Vista Point–the highest point on Jordan Estate with panoramic views of three wine valleys. Two Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon vintages complement winery chef Todd Knoll’s estate and locally sourced food pairings. An oceanfront-resort-style pavilion with retracting glass walls on three sides holds a communal table where guests savor the scenery, wines and food in grand Sonoma style. If you don’t have time for the three-hour tour (a pity), opt for the 90-minute Winery Tour & Tasting, which begins with a Chardonnay pairing on the terrace, served under a majestic, two-centuries-old blue oak tree. Reservations required. Located five miles north of Healdsburg.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Estate Tour & Tasting
Alexander Valley, Healdsburg, CA
Since summer of 2015, the modern farmhouse-meets-tasting lounge in the Russian River Valley has offered a Sonoma food and wine pairing by appointment on weekends. Limited to a few guests, the Elevated Tasting experience includes six wines–an array of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, including multiple single-vineyard bottlings. Pairings are simple but elegantly presented, from a caprese salad skewer and stuffed dates to marinated nuts and charcuterie. Elevated Tastings are typically hosted in the MacRostie Estate House’s private room, which opens to a side terrace with beautiful views of hillside pinot noir vines. Guests can request one of the three tables on its front terrace, overlooking their nascent, river-facing Thale’s Vineyard, named after proprietor Steve MacRostie’s wife. Reservations are required; limited to 12 guests maximum for $55 per person. Located five miles southwest of Healdsburg.
Russian River Valley, Healdsburg, CA
Launched last year, Rodney Strong’s food and wine pairing experience takes advantage of the recently created winery terrace tasting area boasting umbrella-covered tables, lounge areas, a wood-fired oven and spacious tasting bar–all overlooking the winery’s back lawn (known for its summer concerts) and adjacent estate vineyard. The experience features five seasonal bites from the winery chef, paired with five Rodney Strong wines from three Sonoma County appellations. Menu changes a few times each year, all served on the winery patio. Offered Friday through Sunday, April through November for $55 per person. Reservations recommended. Located just outside of Healdsburg.
Rodney Strong Vineyards
Food & Wine Pairing Experience
Russian River Valley, Healdsburg, CA
Known for its sparkling wines for three decades, Gloria Ferrer recently renovated its entire tasting room and terrace, expanding the winery patio in multiple directions to take advantage of the serene views of the Carneros wine region’s cascading hills. Food pairing has become a central focus since the extensive renovation with Chef Danny Banales creating pairings for both the Bubbles and Bites and A Taste of Spain experiences. Carneros is known for its afternoon winds, so these Sonoma food and wine pairings are usually hosted in a private room located directly off the main tasting bar with views of the grand terrace. (Guests can request to be seated outdoors, winds permitting.) Chef Banales prepares five bites to complement five wines, four sparkling cuvées and one Pinot Noir. The selection offers an opportunity to compare and contrast different styles of wines with different appetizers, from mini jamon and cheese sandwiches to roasted brussels sprouts. Limited to 12-14 guests and priced from $50 to $60, depending on food pairing. Reservations required, but guests can also opt for charcuterie and cheese plates, served in the main tasting hall or on the terrace, which can be ordered à la carte anytime. Located just over an hour southeast of Healdsburg.
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves
Bubbles and Bites
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, CA
Located just east of Santa Rosa in the western reaches of Sonoma Valley, St. Francis Winery (like Jordan) has focused on offering Sonoma food and wine pairing experiences for many years. The winery’s substantial, multicourse food pairings by Chef Bryan Jones are served in a private dining room off the back terrace, overlooking a lawn that opens to an experimental vineyard filled with almost a dozen different grapes. Those who wish to sip and nosh outdoors can relax on the winery’s patio and enjoy the charcuterie pairing, which welcomes walk-ins. One white wine and two reds are served with a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, greens and other accoutrements. St. Francis’s walled patio is sheltered from the sun all afternoon long, giving guests shady seats to sip and savor the views of grapevines and Hood Mountain during the tasting. Prices range from $35 to $68 per person, depending on the experience.