By Greg Aragon
Sonoma County is known for its beautiful wine country, but the fertile region is also rich with farms, restaurants, unique and luxurious hotels, and lots of fun things to do. The area has been on my radar the past few months and now as more destinations reopen, I would like to plan a getaway there.
The first thing I’m going to need is a place to stay and I think I found a couple options. They are the New Tree Ranch in the town of Healdsburg, and the AC Hotel in Santa Rosa.
The AC Hotel in downtown Santa Rosa is centrally located in the historic Railroad Square. The hotel is easily accessible to Sonoma County wine country and is just 11 minutes from the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS). The hotel offers a blend of Spanish roots and European style, paired with the authentic urban vibe of Santa Rosa and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The property features 142 guest rooms and includes a state-of-the-art fitness center, two LEED-Certified meeting rooms and an inviting lounge. Guests will enjoy a comfortable patio experience with an outdoor fireplace, large TVs, and comfortable lounge seating. The AC Kitchen serves up a European-influenced breakfast and the AC Lounge features delicious tapas-style shareables and carefully selected local wines. For more information, visit: marriott.com/hotels/travel/stsaw-ac-hotel-santa-rosa-downtown.
Another property I am looking at is New Tree Ranch, a real ranch with animals and a produce farm that gives guests an experience that models a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, plant-based nutrition, and wellness. The property is “committed to embracing the principles and practices of Biodynamic farming; producing food and agriculture that is beneficial, clean and fair, respecting planet earth, and the people that live on it,” says the ranch’s website. “It is our hope that a luxury stay or visit with us will inspire guests to make small changes in their lives that will yield great personal gains in a way that is sustainable for the world.”
Nestled on 120 acres in the secluded Pacific Redwood Forest of Northern California, the New Tree Ranch is currently accepting long-term reservations as well as four and six-night retreat reservations. The hotel’s Ranch Estate boasts four luxury suites sleeping eight guests comfortably. For guests who want to sleep beneath the stars, the hotel offers a “glamping” experience, featuring a luxury canvas tent that can sleep up to two guests and is equipped with an outdoor soaking tub, wood-burning stove and lounge chairs.
Once checked into a hotel, I will venture out to experience more of the beauty of Sonoma County. And now is a great time. As summer gives way to fall, leaves turn yellow, orange and red, while restaurants also change their menus to feature colorful root vegetables, squashes, and other seasonal local produce.
A restaurant that I have heard good things about is Kivelstadt Cellars Wine Garden & Eatery in Sonoma. Known for a tasty brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, the eatery invites guests to dine in a half-acre outdoor space or in a tree-covered wine garden. Diners can enjoy a delicious Carneros breakfast, buttermilk griddle cakes, avocado toast, KC-quiles or a French omelet, while sipping coffee, mimosas, bloody marys, or margaritas. “Our menu reflects a new wave of California food and wine,” reads the winery’s website. “It is meant to be enjoyed and thoughtfully crafted, but never taken too seriously.”
While in Sonoma County I will also want to see some wineries and a great way to do this is with Sonoma County Concierge. This full-service company provides transportation, a curated schedule of tastings, goodie bags filled with Sonoma County’s artisanal goods, commemorative photos, and discounted bottle purchases. Guests can also add on a personalized charcuterie board from locally owned Field + Farm, or add made-to-order gourmet cookies from Cookies by Carina to enjoy during the experience.
Located about 30 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County is one of California’s top food and wine destinations. The region is home to more than 425 wineries ranging from rustic to regal. Visitors can hike among towering redwoods, cruise along rugged Pacific coastline, and get to know inviting small towns. For more information on visiting the region, go to: sonomacounty.com.