visit the Sonoma Valley | stay at The Farmhouse

directions to Russian River Valley vineyards, Sonoma Valley, CA

Want to visit California wine country? While everyone has heard of the Napa Valley, the neighboring Sonoma Valley (just over the mountains and to the west) has a lot to recommend it. Sonoma has slightly cooler weather in the summer months, as it's closer to the Pacific Ocean with its natural air conditioning effect. So while the "hot" Napa Valley is perfect for growing Cabernet grapes, Sonoma Valley is perfect for grapes that prefer cooler conditions.

The road less travelled (literally), driving in Sonoma County will be less of an ordeal than Napa on busy summer weekends... with plenty of good food and wine to taste. Healdsburg has great shopping and restaurants, and we loved Hotel les Mars during our site inspection last week. A boutique hotel with just sixteen rooms each individually decorated in a classic French style, it's located one block north of the Square. If you want to stay in Healdsburg, this is the clear luxury choice.

But our real "find" was The Farmhouse, a boutique, family-owned resort with its own one-star Michelin restaurant. We stayed in a gorgeous 700 square foot suite — light and bright with a two-sided gas fireplace facing inside towards the bed and outside to your private deck. The Farmhouse provides friendly and attentive service. Its large swimming pool is perfect for guests to cool off on hot summer afternoons. Two poolside fire pits are lit at night with complimentary ingredients provided to make your own Valhrona chocolate S'Mores. And try Lost & Found Pinot Noir, a wine crafted from grapes grown in the owners' Russian River Valley vineyard.

Our complimentary gourmet breakfast was great, and while The Farmhouse was closed for dinner the evening we were there, we enjoyed a truly superb dinner at Canneti Italian Roadhouse, about five minutes away in nearby Forestville. If wild boar is on the menu, it's highly recommended.

copyright (c) 2015 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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