Certainly, Sonoma’s top wine event of the year, Taste of Sonoma.  Sonoma State University hosts wine and food lovers to sample delicious wines and savory cuisine from top vintners and chefs.  Insightful wine seminars guide you through different varietals, terroir, and fermentation techniques involved in viticulture. Over 120 participating wineries showcase their prized pours and themed lounges offer limited edition and reserve wines.  In addition, a marketplace opens for a shopping artisan goods.

Reserve your Wine Stay weekend for one of Sonoma’s most anticipated events of the year.

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Wine Country — a foodie’s paradise

Did you know that foodies are everywhere? A foodie is a crossbreed. You can be a jock, an artist, or a go-getter and, at the same time, appreciate good food and drink. Almost everyone likes to sample and compare culinary experiences. In fact, that’s exactly what entices so many to visit Sonoma and Napa Wine Country.

Culinary tourism is defined as the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.  And the experiences are always changing — new recipes, new vintages, new flavors, new seasonal ingredients. And with so many restaurants, food events, and ways to immerse yourself in the food scene, people keep people coming back.

More and more travelers are choosing their destination because of specific restaurants they want to visit. Shopping and culture are secondary. And unlike museums or architectural sites, which are more or less always the same, sort of a “been there, done that” sort of thing, food and drink offer a new sensory experience every time. And foodies love to share.

Food tourism is about experiencing local gastronomy with friends — farm to table eateries, breweries, wineries, cheese shops, markets, harvest dinners, and wine tastings, as well as learning about food and interesting food and wine pairings. And we’re not just talking about gourmet food. Foodies are keen to taste their way through a new city’s street vendors and food carts. The emphasis is local.

Wine Country offers up lots of ways to immerse yourself into its foodie paradise. So make yourself at home at a Wine Stay luxury vacation rental. Use it as your home base to explore local food and drink. Here are three ways to deep dive into the local food experience: tasting tours, cooking classes, farmer’s markets.

Guided Food & Wine Tasting Tours

One way to experience the flavor of Sonoma and Napa Wine Country is to join a walking tour. You’ll find several options to choose from online. Although each tour has its own spin, the common thread is sharing delicious food and drink with others. This is a fun way to find out what a local foodie is up to and enjoy fresh, seasonal food and local beer and wine. Plus, because the itinerary is planned out, it’s easy.  Here are a couple of tours we recommend:

Wine Country Walking Tours — Healdsburg

Stroll around downtown Healdsburg and satisfy your taste buds on this easygoing, guided wine and food pairing walking tour. Perfect for a real foodie!

Gourmet Food and Wine Tours — Sonoma / Yountville

Here are a couple fun tours nearby Calistoga. There’s an interesting guided tour that couples wine or beer tasting with the history of the town of Sonoma.  And they offer a guided food and wine tour in Yountville, the foodie heart of Napa Wine Country, which highlights Michelin-guide restaurants.

Cooking Classes and Demonstrations

To immerse yourself in the “foodism” of Wine Country, why not check out a cooking class or demonstration? There’s nothing like getting hands-on with local produce to fully experience the bounty of this rich agricultural wine land. There are plenty of opportunities where you’re welcome to play with your food. The ones below are within easy reach of your Wine Stay vacation home.

Relish Culinary — Healdsburg

Located in the center of Healdsburg, this is where you can learn about food and wine at cooking classes taught by local chefs or attend culinary events that will inspire your cooking!

Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — Napa

Close by Calistoga is the renowned Napa culinary arts school, which also offers a full calendar of food demos and hand-on classes at Copia food and wine center in the town of Napa — a delightful way to explore wine and food.

Farmer’s Markets

If you’re inspired to whip up your own meal in the privacy and comfort of your vacation rental, shopping local markets is the way to go. Just about every town in Wine Country hosts a farmer’s market. Products are always farm fresh and seasonally ripe, and often organic. Some markets include handcrafts from local artisans, as well as entertainment. The markets below are held Tuesdays and Saturdays. Pick out your favorite ingredients and get cooking!

Farmer’s Market — Healdsburg

Shop for fresh-from-the-farm produce, meats, cheeses, honey, and much more. Snack on food to-go, enjoy entertainment — a true foodie’s paradise.

See our blog post for more about the Healdsburg Farmer’s Market.

Farmer’s Market — Napa

Frequented by locals and tourists alike, this market often hosts food demos, offers gardening info, specialty foods, in-season produce, and handmade items and homemade goodies.

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Don’t know whether you’ve been in Healdsburg Wine Country lately, but the buzz in town is all about Single Thread Restaurant— a whole new approach to farm-to-table restaurants. I haven’t been there yet, but it is definitely on my 2017 must-do list.

It’s a farm-to-table sensory experience

It just opened at the end of 2016 after a lot of fanfare about how great it was going to be. It seems to be living up to expectations. Single Thread isn’t just well-prepared food — it’s a sensory experience. The eleven-course tasting menu extends over hours, immersing guests in each morsel, each moment. Andrew Dalton in Eater San Francisco called the food “culinary bliss.”

Owned and run by husband and wife team, Katina and Kyle Connaughton, the concept behind Single Thread has been building over time. Kyle’s credentials run from SoCal to New York to Japan to England, where he was head chef of research and development at Fat Duck, a Michelin three-starred restaurant. During his time there, Restaurant magazine named Fat Duck the “best restaurant in the world.“ He developed a signature multi-sensory cuisine for their menu. A culinary scientist and foodie extraordinaire, Kyle is also an award-winning author of several cookbooks.

It’s a local, farm-to-table food experience

Katina oversees Single Thread’s farm, located only ten minutes from the restaurant. Many of the menu’s fresh ingredients come from their five acres along the Russian River. The farm is not only fruit and veggies; Katina also tends olive trees, beehives and chickens. Sourcing Sonoma County ingredients, this is a true farm-to-table approach.

From raising crops to exquisite presentation, this place seems to get it right. The secret sauce of this dining extravaganza is in the details. With an emphasis on hospitality, the staff welcomes each guest with a fully personalized experience. Each step of the meals brims with grace and style.

It’s an unforgettable farm-to-table restaurant experience

To get a seat, you buy a ticket in advance. Then you’re contacted to arrange menu details specific to the preferences of you and your guests. Sounds like an awesome way to celebrate an anniversary, Mother’s Day, or any occasion that you want to be unforgettable. I’ve heard that you don’t even get a menu until the end of the meal, a sort of memento of your evening.

It costs about $300 per person, which includes gratuity and tax. Add on wine-pairing for more. Single Thread is right downtown, just a block off the central plaza. Open 5:30 – 11:00, closed Mondays singlethreadfarms.com. If you go, let me know what you think!

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