the Count, where guests concoct and take
home their own blends.
This year, entrepreneurs forged ahead
by unveiling tasting rooms. On Sonoma’s
Vine Alley three new independents are
popping corks. At Cochon Tasting Bar,
customers toast with Rhône and Spanish
varietals. Galatea Effect showcases small
batches from California vineyards. Inside
Jean Edwards Cellars tasting room, the
curious see why Wine Spectator Magazine
called the winery “one of the twenty new
cabernet producers to watch.”
Chef Sondra Bernstein has opened
The Rhône Room in a former art studio.
Guests can sip red and white Rhone
varietals on the patio that overlooks her
Nearby, the historic Joseph Hooker
House in downtown Sonoma is the place
where wine lovers can taste the libations
from Bedrock Wine Company.
For something completely different, try
vodka made from grapes at Hanson of Sonoma distillery. Embark
on a tour and visit the new tasting room while learning about its
vegetable- and fruit-infused vodkas.
EAT Thompson, executive director for the Rebuild Northbay
Foundation, calls Sondra Bernstein a hero in the midst of the
devastation. Thompson reports that the owner of the prestigious
girl & the fig restaurant and the fig café in the town of Sonoma
coordinated thousands of meals a day to feed people in shelters
while having no electricity in her home. “Her unrelenting love for
Sonoma shone through,” she says. “She kept her focus on helping
her community get through this crisis.”
Since the fire, business remains challenging, Bernstein says. She
has observed that the number of tourists and residents in Glen
Ellen has declined, but the stalwart fig café intends to regain its
88 South Bay Accent
footing. The 50-seat restaurant features a daily $29 three-course
plats du jour. On Wednesdays, a winemaker presents free tastings.
The restaurant offers complimentary corkage. Gotta-have-it items
include pot roast, pizza, steak and fries. Although not a chef by
trade, Café La Haye owner Saul Gropman whipped up an evening
of three-course dinners for diners for free soon after the fires broke
out. “I just wanted people there, and it was wonderful,” he recalls.
The 34-seat downtown restaurant serves California-sourced entrees
such as its signature dish, plump quail stuffed with herb sourdough
stuffing from Wolf Ranch. Foodies will know it’s the same farm
that supplies quail to French Laundry, says Gropman. Meanwhile,
diners rave over its beef carpaccio and fried-oysters appetizer.
For two weeks, Ari Weiswasser prepped and cooked thousands
of burritos for firefighters. The owner of the Glen Ellen Star used
up everything in the kitchen for the cause. Like most businesses in
Glen Ellen, the farm-to-table restaurant
closed and reopened. The 60-seat eatery
is revered for its fire-roasted veggies
and main entrees as well as its homemade
breads and pizzas. “The one dish
that doesn’t change is our wood-roasted
Brussels sprouts with brown sugar and
bacon marmalade. When people talk
about it, that dish often comes up,” he
says. The regulars know to save room
for the house-made ice creams: vanilla
maple bourbon, peaches and cream,
and salted peanut.
STAY On Nov. 27, a month after fires
and construction delays, downtown’s
Archer Hotel Napa finally opened.
It was a great feeling for all those who
worked so hard to launch the six-floor
NAPA KING SUITE
WITH BALCONY AND
Sonoma THE GIRL AND THE FIG
FROM TOP: COURTESY OF ARCHER HOTEL NAPA, MEGAN STEFFAN; OPPOSITE: BURGESS CELLARS