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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Having lunch at a Sonoma County winery

You've got a day of wine tasting planned. Don't forget to plan for lunch. You'd be surprised how many people do. Then about 3 pm they're thinking, "I'm starved!" You want a break from tasting to load up on some food.

Some options in Sonoma County:

In some parts of the country (and in other countries) it's common to find restaurants at wineries. In Sonoma County, and in all of California, it is not common, but there are a few.

In some parts of Sonoma County you might be close enough to a small town where you can take a break and find something to eat. In other areas you may find yourself a half-hour drive or more from food. Plan ahead!

Many wineries have food and wine pairing programs, but these don't qualify as a meal. It's more nibbles.

This likely isn't a complete list. It's what I know about. Check with wineries you plan on visiting to see what they may offer.

Coppola's Rustic
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Alexander Valley: Francis Ford Coppola's Rustic Restaurant.
Russian River Valley: Russian River Vineyards Corks Restaurant.

These are open for lunch and dinner, of course.


Russian River Valley: Korbel has deli and you can sit outside under the Redwoods while you eat.
Sonoma Valley: Chateau St. Jean, Ledson and Viansa have delis. Last time I checked Ledson had the best looking one. VJB also fires up their outdoor oven on weekends for more choices besides the basic deli stuff.

Picnic lunches
A wine & food pairing at Lynmar
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Russian River Valley: Lynmar provides picnic lunches.
Sonoma Valley: Ram's Gate will supply you with a picnic basket.

Some will require advance notice to prepare the picnic goodies for you.


Many will have somewhat over-priced crackers, cheeses, and salami available.

Bring your own

This is my favorite way to have lunch while wine tasting. Stop at a sandwich shop on the way out and pick up sandwiches and bottled water then find a nice picnic spot at a winery. There are numerous Subway and Togo sandwich shops around. Some local delis are: Dry Creek Store, Glen Ellen Market, Jimtown Store, and Oakville Grocery.
A few notes on BYO to a winery picnic ground:
  • If you use a winery's picnic facilities you should buy tastings or a bottle. It's best to check and see what are their requirements.
  • I don't recommend doing a tasting while eating as your food and the various wines you sample aren't always going to complement each other. Ever had potato chips and Zinfandel?  Yuck.
  • Wineries that provide lunches may not allow outside food. None allow outside alcohol.
Even little Loxton Winery in Sonoma Valley has a few tables
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