Sample superb varietals paired with regional specialties at winemaker dinners. Seghesio Family Vineyards in
Healdsburg plates scrumptious Italian comfort food like polenta with chicken and sausage with their award-winning Italian varietals. Nicholson Ranch
serves local lamb and artisanal cheeses with varied chardonnays and pinot noirs.
Splurging in Yountville
Considered the finest restaurant in California Wine Country, the French Laundry
wows visitors with nine unpredictable courses of the region’s best food. Dishes range from plain-Jane braised tongue to a lavish version of mac-and-cheese -- lobster and orzo with mascarpone. The experience is pricey but memorable, one of the top 10 culinary things to do in California Wine Country.
6640 Washington St., Yountville 94599 French Laundry Website
Wine flights at Ferrari-Carano Vineyard & Winery
Ferrari-Carano Vineyard & Winery’s cathedral windows overlook the rugged Sonoma County countryside from its hilltop location. Wander past waterfalls and wisteria, then head to the marble-and-alabaster Enoteca for flights of cabernet and sangiovese.
8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg 95448 Ferrari-Carano Vineyard & Winery Website
Olive oil tastings
The silvery olive trees of Wine Country produce some of California’s finest oils. Tasting rooms throughout the valleys let visitors pick out the best from all the rest. Napa Valley Olive Oil
in Napa presses its own oil, as does The Olive Press
Cooking classes at Ramekins
Hone your kitchen skills at Ramekins Culinary School. Hands-on instruction covers cheese-making, Basque country cooking, Thai seafood and Bavarian game dishes, among others. And there’s even a hotel at this school in California Wine Country.
450 W. Spain St., Sonoma 95476 Ramekins Website
Sipping bubbly at Domaine Chandon
Domaine Chandon, founded by French champagne-maker Moët et Chandon, welcomes visitors to its Napa location amid a meticulously groomed garden. Tour the winery’s extensive wine-making facility and its caves or just purchase a celebratory glass to sip on the patio.
1 California Drive, Yountville 94599 Domaine Chandon Website
Vendors sell bushels of fresh peaches, figs and cured olives on the Plaza at the Sonoma Farmers Market.
Other farm-to-market fare are homemade cheeses, California almonds and fresh-fruit compotes. Locally-grown products, ideal for picnics, are sold weekly at Napa’s Napa Valley Wine Train
and at towns throughout the Sonoma and Napa valleys.
Touring and tasting at Robert Mondavi
Robert Mondavi’s sprawling, mission-style winery sits among acres of orderly vineyards and hardwood trees. Tour the high-tech winery, where the wine-making process is effortlessly managed by computers, before tasting fumé blancs, chardonnays and cabernets in the tasting room.
7801 state Highway 29, Oakville 94562 Robert Mondavi Winery Website
Mixing art with wine
Swiss art collector Donald Hess blends fine art with wine, displaying museum-quality pieces at the Hess Collection
estate. Sample syrahs, cabernets and chardonnays, then tour the contemporary paintings, sculptures and multimedia displays in the art collection – or vice versa.
4411 Redwood Road, Napa Hess Collection Website
Cheese shopping in the valleys
If there’s anything Wine Country locals love more than wine, it’s cheese. Look for shops throughout the region. Favorites include the Sonoma Cheese Factory
on the Sonoma Plaza, with house-made cheese and imported salamis and hams. In Healdsburg, the Cheese Shop
supplies regional cheeses to the area’s finest restaurants.