Updated: Jun 18, 2019
There are many options for lunch in Sonoma, California. On our last trip there, we decided to spurge on several lunches offered by some of the wineries where the food is paired with their wines to get a truly immersive experience. The food was all much more elegant than how I’ve described it. Here are three lunch with wine pairing experiences we recommend at wineries in Sonoma. We rate each wine using smiley faces. For more information, check out our rating system.
1) Lynmar Estate: Roaming through the garden
Lynmar, in Sebastopol, offers several types of wine tasting experiences in addition to the food and wine lunch pairing. We opted for the four-course farm-to-table lunch. We started with a Rosé of Pinot Noir and a stroll through the winery’s extensive flower and vegetable garden, which is also a certified bee garden.
Lunch was on the covered patio.
Our server Mandy started us with warm organic popcorn paired with Lynmar’s Quail Hill Vineyard Chardonnay 2013. 😊😊
Second course was a crisp spinach lavash, paired with the winery’s Sweeney Vineyard Chardonnay 2015. 😊😊 We also got to try Suzanna’s 2015 Chardonnay, which was more buttery. 😊😊
Third course was flank steak marinated in Korean spices with potatoes and carrots from the garden, paired with Lynmar’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2016, a flagship pinot for the winery. 😊+
Dessert was roasted summer peach on toasted buttermilk spice cake, and we got to try both a Kanzler 😊😊 and Lynmar’s Block 10 Pinot Noir. 😊😊
What was particularly nice is that estate chef David Frakes came out to explain that the food was chosen to pair with the wines, not the other way around. He also noted that the winery provided additional wine tastings for some of the courses, so that we could compare what went together best.
2) Jordan Vineyard and Winery: A two-pronged tasting experience
One of the most beautiful wineries in Sonoma is Jordan, in Healdsburg. The winery specializes in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. It offers several wine/food pairings, including one in a hidden “private library.” We opted for Jordan’s estate tour and tasting.
The winery began the experience with champagne, scones and fruit in front of its chateau-like building.
Our guide, Rennie, then drove us around the estate, including a tour though the garden and a visit with Jordan’s donkeys.
We stopped twice for wine and food pairing. The first was in front of Jordan’s lake, called Seven Oaks, where we had Jordan’s olive oil, a vegetable medley, and a polenta cake. These were paired with both the 2013 and the 2016 Jordan Chardonnays from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Both years earned 😊😊. The 2016 was lighter, more Chablis style. The 2013 was more typically California Chardonnay, with a crème brûlée finish.
Rennie then drove us to the top of a hill, called Vista Point, with stunning 360-degree views through floor to ceiling windows. This is where we compared Jordan’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon to its 2014, both from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. The wines were paired with local cheeses, a salad of fruits and seeds, honey from Jordan’s apiary, and beef with vegetables.
Both wines here also earned 😊😊. The 2005 was more earthy, with a dry finish.
3) Chalk Hill Estate Winery: A gourmet experience
Chalk Hill, also in Healdsburg, provided one of the more personalized and elegant wine/food pairing experiences. We opted for the culinary tour and tasting. Our guide Jesse gave us a tour of the grounds (in a hummer!).
We ended at the top of a hill on the estate where we were feted with a full-scale gourmet lunch:
Amuse Bouche: fritter with a welcome wine 2012 Pinot Gris. 😊😊
First course: squash with peppers, paired with a 2015 Viognier. 😊😊
Second course: Onion risotto and a riff on a caprese salad with 2016 Wright Creek Chardonnay. 😊😊+
Third course: braised octopus with Spanish blood sausage, paired with a 2016 Mt. Eden Pinot Noir (which our guide called “the Cabernet lovers Pinot”). 😊😊
Fourth course: brown butter roasted Wagi beef tenderloin with a 2014 Carménère, a Bordeaux varietal.
Fifth course: blueberry sorbet with olive oil and sea salt, with a dessert wine called Botrytized (that “Noble Rot” that helps make a great dessert wine) Semillon. 😊😊
The chef de cuisine, Alan, came out to explain each course and the wine it was paired with.
Chalk Hill is also part of the Foley Food and Wine Society, which offers experiences at some of its sister properties, as well.
All three wine and food pairing experiences were fun, educational and delicious. Not a dietetic vacation! If you’re visiting the wineries in Sonoma, checking out at least one of these experiences is definitely worth it. Each experience was unique and worth trying. Looking forward to going back!
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of our related articles: