Whether you're on a tight budget, or want to drop some serious coin, these are the best places for Wine and Food pairings in Sonoma County. Sonoma County, home to over 400 wineries, is like a food and wine playground for adults, but it can be hard to know where to start. Wine and Food make a tremendous pairing and regarless of your budget, this list of wineries can satisfy anyone from broke college students (we know of a *free* wine and cheese pairing) to millionaires. Simple, elegant, and satisfying, the only way you can go wrong with a wine and food pairing is if you don't go to one!
No Budget, No Problem
Chalk Hill Vineyards: $100/person
The Chalk Hill Culinary Lunch Tour consists of two and a half hours of pure joy. Starting off with a quick tour and a look at their estate vineyards then leading into the garden where organically-farmed produce is grown, you will never want to leave this beautiful site. With 360 degree views of the landscape around the estate, the Pavillion, where lunch is served, will leave you speechless. Lunch consists of assorted small plates from the Executive Chef and, of course, their delectable wine. Depending on the seasonal ingredients, the menu can change up a bit, but a few staple are the Thai Red Curry Soup with Tiger Prawns paired with their Pinot Gris, Lobster Risotto with Tarragon Lobster Bisque paired with their Chardonnay, or Pork Belly marinated in orange and ginger paired with the Estate Red. Visit Chalk Hill Vineyards' website for more information on the Culinary Lunch Tour and their other delightful tours and tastings.
J Vineyards and Winery: $75/person
Looking for some sparkles on a warm spring day in the Russian River Valley? J Vineyards can provide you with their outstanding five-course meal in their "J Bubble Room," where they serve you only the best locally-sourced organic food. You will leave satisfied after trying their "Aphrodisiac Menu" which include pairings like their 2005 J Vintage Brut with Foie Gras, 2012 STRATA Pinot Noir with Black Garlic Pasta, and last, but certainly not least, their dessert choice of Molten Chocolate Cake with J Brut Rose.
Ballin' On A Budget
Portalupi Winery: $20/person
Portalupi is one of the best wineries in Sonoma for wine and food pairings if you are not a big spender. Tim Borges and Jane Portalupi grew up in northern California and decided to open their tasting room in their hometown of Headlsburg in 2002. Their wines are robust with lots of character and have an old-world style to them. After being greeted at the door by Tim and Jane, you will get to try six wines with local artisan cheeses and cured salami in a casual, yet chic, tasting room. If you want more details on what wines they have for sale, Portalupiwine.com has many unique wines to choose from.
Williamson Winery: FREE!
Some would say it's crazy to open a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, offer a free tasting therein, and be open until 7:00pm. Dawn and Bill Williamson, owners of Wiliamson Winery did exactly that. Chefs Patty Schroeder and Todd Muir will provide you with what they call "fridge foods," with options that can include small bites such as curried cashews (Viogner), tri tip with mustard (Red Blend), and brownie bites (Merlot) or honey and blue cheese (Cabernet Sauvignon). Williamson will accomodate six guests or less for a complimentary tasting, or $15/person if there are 6-15 guests. Even if you want to drop by for a quick visit, try their tasting flight where they pair many different types of cheeses with some fine wines!
By Sharon Haag