The citizens of Santa Rosa have reason to be in a continually celebratory mood as their microbrewery of choice takes top honors nearly every year at Denver's Great American Beer Festival. Since its inception in 1997, it has won such accolades as “Small Brewing Company of the Year,” “Innovation in Craft Brewing” and "Large Brewpub Champion Brewmaster." Indeed, gold medal winners include such eloquently named brews as Damnation, Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder. Many of them can be found in pubs throughout the Bay Area, but the headquarters is a must-see destination. Russian River Brewing Company is also credited with inventing the Double India Pale Ale. The entire list of ales is fascinating, each of them unique in blend, texture and flavor. At the tap room, live music entertains crowds as they savor pizzas made thin, crisp and fresh.
Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley, St. Francis has a talented wine-making team that focuses on producing high-quality varietals from hand-harvested grapes. Its two wine clubs give you the opportunity to sample new wines that are not available in retail stores and restaurants, while the Visitor Center offers a fantastic view of the mountains and vineyards (it can also be booked for weddings and other family functions). A knowledgeable staff is at hand to guide you through the intricate details of wine-making.
Built by Peanuts comics creator Charles M.Schulz, the Snoopy's Home Ice is a renowned ice rink. Offering a number of activities like figure skating, the arena also offers opportunity people of all ages to wear their skates and have fun throughout the year. The arena is home to the Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament where 64 international hockey teams compete for a week.
Safari West is a 400-acre (162-hectare) sanctuary in the center of the wine country, where exotic mammals and birds reside. Started as a private facility, the preserve is now open to the public and conducts tours and field trips for those interested. Attracting over 60,000 people annually, Safari West is dedicated to the preservation of species and conducts interaction with students and educational programs. Tent cabins and other lodging is provided for those who wish to stay at the reserve. Amenities on-site include swimming pool, restaurant, and massages.
The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is a dynamic performing arts center showcasing a brilliant selection of events through the year ranging from family events to comedy, theater, music and dance. Besides this, it also has a dedicated visual arts program, working with upcoming as well as renowned artists for its year-round schedule of exhibitions. Ranked among the top performing arts centers in the world the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts welcomes prestigious names and offers world-class facilities to host events. Its education programs are nationally recognized, and it is home to regular community events as well.
Located in Downtown, the Historic Railroad Square is one of the most well-preserved neighborhoods. Its origins can be traced back to 1871 with the emergence of railways in the town. The historical buildings built by Northern Italian stonemasons are especially famous for surviving the earthquake of 1906. Today, it is a famous tourist area thanks to restaurants, cafes, shops and upscale hotels.
The vineyards in Sonoma are lush and extensive, and Domaine Saint George is no exception—it capitalizes on the natural richness of the area by cultivating top-notch grapes, the flavor of which is sure to cheer up many a barbecue or dinner party. The winery has been around for a long time, so expect quality produce. Boasting an excellent cellar, it takes utmost care in the preservation and blending of the varietals. Saint George has won enough Barrel Reserve Awards to fill up a keg, so fix up a date and let the wines flow!
A small winery located in the Bennett Valley, Sable Ridge introduces a minimum of four new wines in the market every year, and has been the proud recipient of several awards since 1998. Grapes grown in Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Sonoma Valley are bottled to produce a number of varietals, including "rich and balanced Zinfandels" that top the list of Sable Ridge's hand-crafted wines. You can buy their wines both online and from various restaurants and retail shops in California.
Organic farming and wine-making is the hallmark of Helena View Johnston Vineyards. What started off as just appreciation for good wine has grown into a winery of exceptional Bordeaux Red varieties. The winery and tasting rooms are tucked into full grown trees with a cave built in for the storage and maturing of wines. The winery also buys top quality fruits from the neighboring farms to make its signature wines. You'll need to call ahead for a tour.
1998 Stony Hill White Riesling leaves a distinct tang of melon and apricot with each sip. Another vintage treasure of Stony Hill Vineyard is the 1996 Stony Hill Chardonnay that imparts a unique toasty taste with every sip mingled with a bit of apple and pear. Their wines are produced by crushing the grapes in oak cooperage and then left to age in oak barrels. This is something that helps in producing fine and aptly flavored wines. They say 'balanced' is the way to be.
The father-son duo of the Merlo family work together to produce varietals of Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah, Moscato, and Cabernet Franc. Located on the Dry Creek Valley Appellation, the 200-acre (81-hectare) estate not only grows its own grapes, but also sells the fruit to other wineries. Wine barrel tastings are hosted for visitors to the place, while other events like Winemaker dinner, have its own fan base.
If Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sound like music to your ears, a visit to the Freeman Vineyard and Winery in the charming Russian River Valley town of Sebastopol awaits you. The brainchild of Ken and Akiko Freeman, this family-run winery is among the finest in the area, and the wines produced here are full-bodied and can go with haute cuisines. Check the website for more information.