Thursday, January 08, 2015

Best Sonoma County Restaurants - 2015

The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2015 was recently published. Zagat, which in years past has published a guide book that included wine country restaurants, only included restaurants in San Francisco in this year's Top 50 list.  While we're a little late this year, here's Blue Heron's annual summary of the critics' choices for the best restaurants in Sonoma County. 

No Sonoma County Restaurants received two or three stars from Michelin.  The Sonoma County recipients of one Michelin star are Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Forestville, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, and Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay. 

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars. No Sonoma County restaurant received 3.5 or 4 stars.  Sixteen restaurants are the recipients of three stars.  In Sonoma city only Cafe La Haye received three stars.  In Healdsburg, the recipients are Barndiva, Chalkboard, Madrona Manor, New Campo Fina, Ravenous Cafe and Lounge, Scopa, and Spoonbar.  

Lunchtime on my tours in Sonoma County usually finds my guests in either Healdsburg or the town of Sonoma. My favorite lunch spot in Healdsburg is Willi's Seafood, which features small plates of the freshest seafood. In Sonoma city, I recommend The Girl and the Fig for French influenced California food, El Dorado Kitchen for American cuisine, La Salette for Portuguese food, and Della Santina's for Italian food. If you would like to take a private tour in Sonoma County that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Best Napa Valley Restaurants - 2015

The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2015 was recently published. Zagat, which in years past has published a guide book that included wine country restaurants, only included restaurants in San Francisco in this year's Top 50 list.  While we're a little late this year, here's Blue Heron's annual summary of the critics' choices for the best restaurants in the Napa Valley.

The French Laundry in Yountville and The Restaurant at Meadowood near St. Helena once again received three stars from Michelin.  Thirty Bay Area restaurants received one star from Michelin. The Napa recipients are Bouchon in Yountville; La Toque in Napa city, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Terra in St. Helena, and Solbar in the Solage resort in Calistoga.

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars, which were awarded to two Napa Valley restaurants:  French Laundry (Yountville) and The Restaurant at Meadowood (near St. Helena). The following Napa Valley restaurants received 3.5 stars: Bar Terra (St. Helena), Bistro Don Giovanni (Napa city), Redd (Yountville), and Terra (St. Helena). Thirteen restaurants are the recipients of three stars.

My favorite lunch spot in the Napa Valley remains Auberge du Soleil. The combination of food, service, and view can't be beat. I've taken many happy guests to this restaurant. If you would like to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Monday, December 15, 2014

More Winetasting in Paso Robles

This past weekend, I returned to Paso Robles for some more winetasting.  I visited some old favorites as well as some tasting rooms that were new to me.  As in the past, staff were uniformly friendly and knowledgeable about the wines they were pouring.  There seemed to be some creep in the tasting fees.  Most fees were $15/person with some wineries' fees at $10/person.  I was quite surprised by the increase in wine prices.  Most of the tasting rooms had wines selling between $50 and $75.  Some tasting rooms had no wines for less than $45.  Those prices were a little too steep for my budget, but I did find some good wines in the $30 - $35 range.

While walking around the square in Paso Robles, we saw a sign for the Paso Underground tasting room.  This collective houses tasting bars from four small wineries, Edmond August, Turtle Rock, Dilecta, and Aaron.  All, except Aaron, were staffed when we visited.  The staff were all terrific; answering our many questions about their wines and the region as a whole.  Here you'll find interesting Zinfandel, Rhone Varietals, and other wines.  If you are strolling around the square in Paso Robles, stop in.  The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday from 1:00 until 7:00 p.m.  On Sunday, hours are from 1:00 until 5:00 p.m.

Turley is a very well regarded Zinfandel producer.  I had visited Turley's tasting room in Amador County but not the one in Paso Robles.  Again, we found very good wine and friendly staff.  One wine on the menu had made both the "Wine Spectator's" and "San Francisco Chronicle's" top 100 lists.  At $29/bottle, the  Old Vines California Zinfandel was a great buy.  Turley's tasting room is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

I still have many more wineries to check out so I'll need to come back for another visit.  If you would like to take a private tour from San Francisco to Paso Robles and/or the Hearst Castle, please contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at rick@blueherontours.com or (866) 326-4237 (toll free).