I wouldn’t consider myself a francophile so much as a wineaux. Growing up in California and having travelled to all the major wine regions in in France and Spain, I have always been struck by how Sonoma and France are kindred spirits in wine and food culture, even sharing similar Mediterranean climate and similar ecology. Now that we have passed the toddler tantrum years, we have been considering packing up the family for some overseas travels but then COVID. Boo. How about a day trip to France with the kids instead? Thank you beautiful Sonoma County!
You can start with a winery that feels like the bucolic French countryside, visit a lavender farm like the ones in Provence, taste some real Champagne, and end the day with a fantastic al fresco dinner at a family friendly French restaurant.
All of the attractions on this day trip itinerary will require an advance reservation, due to limitations in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Links to the reservation web sites are provided to make the trip planning as easy as possible.
First stop, DeLoach Vineyards
DeLoach Vineyards is a certified organic and biodynamic winery located on the west end of the city of Santa Rosa, in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Their specialities are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
DeLoach learned about biodynamic farming in Burgundy, France and brought it back to their farm in Sonoma County. Biodynamic farming is very special and whenever I see a winery described as biodynamic, I know it is going to be a hit with the kids because in biodynamic farming, the farmers are committed to maintaining biodiversity on their land. This means they grow many other plants along with their grapes including cover crops, fruits, and vegetables. To bring balance to the farm, they also have animals such as chickens, bees, sheep, and goats.
When visiting DeLoach, you can enjoy outdoor wine tasting by appointment, which costs $20. You can visit the animals and gardens as you explore the “Theater of Nature,” a self-guided tour through their 20-acre farm.
Reservations can be made at this link: https://deloachvineyards.com/reservations/
Personally, I ate my way through France! So many delicious cheeses and meats to go with my baguettes and wine. For me a bountiful picnic is the easiest way to surface all those great French memories. You can make arrangements with Kerri the owner of The Tilted Platter, and she will deliver the most beautiful platter you have ever feasted on right to you, just in time for you to bring it to your next stop for a light picnic lunch.
Second Stop, the Lavender Farm at Monte-Bellaria di California
Monte-Bellaria di California is also located in the Russian River Valley in Sebastopol. They grow french lavender, bees, honey, and olives for olive oil. They make culinary and personal care products as well. You can explore and frolic with the children on the 14 acre farm via nature walkways (not between the rows due to lots of bees!) with beautiful views of the valleys and neighboring vineyards. They also offer a 15- minute educational tour which includes the barn, distillation equipment, bee hives and lavender fields if weather permits. You can enjoy a quick picnic during your hour-long visit at one of the picnic tables near the pond.
Tickets to the farm are $5 for adults, and an added farm tour will cost an additional $5 for adults and free for children. Reservations can be made at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/monte-bellaria-lavender-high-fragrance-season-2020-tickets-112120744164
Third Stop, Korbel Winery
Korbel Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma County, and they specialize in the most iconic french beverage, which is champagne, of course! As you approach the winery, you are greeted by an historic brick building covered in beautiful ivy with cheerful gardens all around.
Korbel makes a variety of champagnes from sweet to dry, so you are sure to find a champagne you would like to take home with you. Normally, the wine tasting takes place indoors, but at this time, all wine tasting is stand-up style outdoors, and by appointment. Thankfully, there is still a free tasting option at Korbel, if you have already spent enough money on your adventure. If you feel like going all out, their most expensive tasting is only $10. Since the wine tasting is standing only, this will probably be your quickest stop of the day. The kids will appreciate it since there is not a lot of entertainment for them, other than a little fountain where they can put their hand in the stream of water. Korbel also offers a gourmet deli, in case you need lunch or snacks. The outdoor deck has seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
To make a reservation call (707) 824-7319 or email Reservations@korbel.com.
Fourth and final stop, dinner at Gravenstein Grill
Gravenstein Grill is located in Sebastopol, and has one of the largest outdoor dining patios in Sonoma County. The patio is so beautiful, with wine barrels all around and trees that look like they could be in a park in Paris. The menu exclusively uses local products from Sonoma County, with many items that are French inspired. A few items on their menu include truffle fries, house made charcuterie, cheese plate, quiche, duck confit, and steak frites. Some kid friendly items on the menu include cesar salad, avocado toast, mac n’ cheese, steak, and the classic hamburger.
Reservations can be made at this link: http://www.gravensteingrill.com/
Would you like to find out about more places close to home that remind you of other destinations around the world? This post was featured as a part of a much bigger world tour post over at Family Roadtrip Guru Blog where other guest bloggers have shared many ideas for an international experience in America.