With so many great wineries surrounding the Bay Area, travelers to San Francisco will definitely want to find their way out to wine country. But where to start? Napa? Sonoma? Calistoga? We discovered the perfect weekend retreat in northern Sonoma County: The Farmhouse Inn.
S’mores Under the Stars
Located in the Russian River Valley city of Forestville, California (about 15 minutes off the 101 freeway near Santa Rosa), this little slice of heaven is the perfect place to relax and kick back in the country. Surrounded by fields of grapes, this yellow wooden inn is a boutique luxury retreat spread over a property that boasts bright country flowers, a swimming pool, a spa, and an exceptional restaurant run by Michelin starred Chef Steve Litke, serving up some of the best seasonal gourmet cuisine in the region. It’s the perfect place to soak in the silence and roast s’mores over an open fire beneath the stars. The property is filled with expanses of lawn and flower gardens where you can sunbathe in deck chairs by day and stargaze by candlelight at night.
If you feel like a splurge, go for the barn-house rooms. These roomy digs are located in a new building at the back of the property, and boast two-sided fireplaces that open both into the room and onto an outdoor patio. Rooms are filled with abundant amounts of white and feature rustic country-chic decor like industrial looking lamps, 4-poster beds with wooden birds perched on top, and decorative weathervanes.
Bathrooms feature heated marble floors (I could get used to that!), a temperature controlled steam sauna/shower combo, and Sumbody bath products that smell so sweet they’ll fill the room with a scent akin to freshly baking cakes. The brown sugar and honey scrub is particularly heavenly and will leave your skin moist, glowing, and refreshed. Choose from rich, creamy soap made with goat’s milk and a hint of vanilla and citrus, or go for the floral-derived lavender and oats, or the citrus-infused avocado bar. Why not all 3? In the lobby you get to choose your own bath products for your stay.
Breakfast is included with your stay and can be taken in the inn’s elegant restaurant or outside on the sun-filled deck among flowers and a softly splashing fountain. The spread features a changing 2-course menu brought to you by breakfast chef Trevor Boosinger and pastry chef Ti-Jael Stafford. The first course features pastries that are baked fresh on the property accompanied by fruit. Think scones filled with blackberries from the garden, organic Sonoma lavender and honey pastries, or sweet and flaky cream biscuits slathered with house-made Meyer lemon curd. Farm-fresh entrees include hashes and scrambles made with eggs from Bartolomei farm and locally smoked ham. There are also sweet entrees like waffles and crepes with fresh fruit. To drink, Mimosas and Bellinis are a staple, and you can help yourself to orange juice, water, teas, coffee, and cocoa as well.
Local Day Trips and Wine Tasting
The best course of action is to fill your days with wine tasting and hiking in the redwoods, then unwind at the Farmhouse Inn afterwards. Don’t forget to leave time for relaxing by the pool or a spa treatment.
Only minutes away are dozens of top wineries. Best of all, the Farmhouse Inn has a selection of partner wineries that offer complimentary wine tastings to guests. Russian River Vineyards, Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Gary Farrell were a few of our favorite vineyards, although the choices are endless. Korbel has free vineyard tours hourly and a deli where you can have lunch. After wine tasting take the scenic wine road all the way to Healdsburg for some boutique shopping and perhaps a meal in town. For casual Italian eats, try Campo Fina. Better yet, grab dinner back at the Farmhouse Inn.
The next day, be sure to stop by nearby Armstrong Woods to hike among the majestic redwoods. You can park just outside the state park for free and enjoy a network of easy hikes that will take you past highlights like The Parson Jones Tree, the park’s tallest tree, The Colonel Armstrong Tree, the park’s oldest tree, and The Icicle Tree, with its unusual burl formations. All of the main park features can be seen along the Pioneer Nature Trail, an easy 1.5 mile round-trip flat hike.
The Sonoma Coast
When you check out, head for the Sonoma coast for winding sea views and gourmet treats on your way back to the city. Stop for a seafood lunch of Fish and Chips at Fishetarian Fish Market in Bodega Bay, or go for oysters at Hog Island and fresh cheese at Cowgirl Creamery in Tomales Bay.
There’s no better way to combine the cosmopolitan allure of San Francisco with the quaint charm of wine country than heading north for a little R&R.