Summer Sizzle in Sonoma

Photo courtesy Up & Away Ballooning

Sonoma County is America’s premier wine, spa and coastal destination, featuring more than 300 wineries and 50-plus miles of stunning Pacific coast. With the Santa Rosa Wine Trail, the opening of a sculpture exhibit at Paradise Ridge Winery, and a new restaurant – Glen Ellen Star – summer is sizzling in Sonoma!

Go beyond the wineries and splash down into the Russian River for a kayak ride or simple swim and splash at one of many beaches. Hike through Armstrong Redwoods and let your skin drink in the cool dampness of a 1,000-year-old forest. Build sand castles or launch a kite at one of several beaches along the 55-plus miles of Pacific coastline.

The options are endless for a weekend of indulgence. Here are just a few of our favorites that are new to Sonoma this season:

Jazzy Summer Nights at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards hosts a new jazz series called Jazzy Summer Nights during the summer months. Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards is located on 400 picturesque acres in the heart of the Russian River Valley and is host to the annual North American Croquet Championships held on world-class croquet courts. The winery also has great outdoor accommodations for concerts. The Jazzy Summer Nights series has two more concerts coming up:

** THIS SATURDAY, August 18: Deborah Winters with The Peter Welker 10- piece all-star band

All concerts are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will be intimate gatherings with limited seating. Tickets are $35 for each concert. Yucatan cuisine, made by local Mateo Granados, will be available from his food truck parked at the winery.

Jazzy Summer Nights at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards
4401 Slusser Road
Windsor, A, CA 95492
Sonoma-Cutrer Tasting Room 707-237-3489

Photo: Peter Griffith

Santa Rosa Wine Trail

Meander the Santa Rosa Wine Trail, where a collection of 12 small wineries and three restaurants offer some of the best food and wine in the county. Located only a few miles apart from each other in northern Santa Rosa, a Santa Rosa Wine Trail card is a visitor’s passport to wine tasting fun during the day, and fine dining at night.

Participating wineries include: Robert Rue Vineyards, Old World Winery, Inspiration Vineyards, D’Argenzio Winery, Sheldon Wines, Krutz Family Cellars, Carol Shelton Wines, Vinoteca Winery, Siduri/Novy, Two Shepherds, and Paradise Ridge Winery.

Participating restaurants include: Willi’s Wine Bar, John Ash & Co., and Stark’s Steak & Seafood.

The benefits are simple:
1. Print out or receive the card from one of our members and receive a complimentary tasting at each winery.
2. Collect a stamp from each winery and be entered automatically to win a mixed case of wine, each month.
3. While the card is in progress bring a bottle from one of the member wineries along with your card to Willi’s, John Ash & Co., or Stark’s Steak & Seafood for free corkage.

Santa Rosa Wine Trail
1301 Cleveland Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Acclaimed Caterer Opens New Restaurant
Bruce Riezenman, chef and owner of Park Avenue Catering in Cotati, has opened a new restaurant at Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma. It’s called Park 121, taking its name from its location on Highway 121.

The restaurant is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and serves salads, pastas, sandwiches and warm plate entrees. Look for Duck Confit and Asparagus salad, Joe’s Sweet Pea and Ricotta Raviolis and the Best Adult Grilled Cheese, made with local Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese. Top it off with Reizenman’s signature dessert, Triple Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies. All of the dressings, seasonings and baked goods are made in house.

The wine list showcases wine made in the Carneros region, where Park 121 is also located. Also look for artisan California beers.

In keeping with the artistic spirit of the nine-acre Cornerstone Gardens, Riezenman has decorated the inside with mobiles and sculptures. Outdoor and indoor seating is available.

Park 121
23570 Arnold Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476

Photo: SCTB

A Star is Born in Glen Ellen
The quaint town of Glen Ellen welcomes a new restaurant, Glen Ellen Star. It is a cozy space, with just eight dining tables, and a handful of chairs at the counter that surround the open kitchen. At the center is the star of the show, Chef Ari Weiswasser, who has previously worked at the French Laundry, and Picholine in New York. Another attraction is one of the chef’s favorite tools – a custom built wood burning oven that helps create food that combines classic French techniques, and exotic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors in every dish.

Weiswasser is married to Erinn Benziger Weiswasser, of the Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma, which is also located in Glen Ellen. It may be the pull of family that lured him to Sonoma County, but he also says he loves the fresh produce, dairy, wine, meat, and poultry available to him.

Menu prices range from $5 for appetizers or house-churned ice cream, to $65 for a Spring Lamb Supper that will feed a crowd, and requires 72 hours notice to order. Reservations are strongly recommended, although counter seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Open for dinner Sunday-Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 9:30 p.m. Lunch will be served Friday through Sunday starting in July.

Glen Ellen Star
13648 Arnold Drive
Glen Ellen, CA 95442

The Jaded Toad Opens in Windsor
Follow the irresistible smell of smoky barbecue and garlic fries lures customers to the newly opened Jaded Toad, just a block from the Windsor Town Green. The menu features baby back ribs, barbecued chicken, pulled pork sliders, cornbread, steamed clams, salmon, and pan-fried frog legs. Owner Leo Tocchini is a culinary school graduate and alum of Tony Roma’s, the national restaurant chain known for barbecue cuisine.

The Jaded Toad is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Jaded Toad
275 Windsor River Road
Windsor, CA 95492
707- 838-8336

The Green Music Center’s Inaugural Season
The music of internationally acclaimed musicians is about to fill the air in wine country. Located on the Sonoma State University campus, Weill Hall at the Green Music Center officially opens Saturday, Sept. 29 with an inaugural concert featuring Lang Lang. The 29-year-old pianist has been heralded as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times.

The inaugural weekend continues on Sunday, Sept. 30, with a Choral Sunrise Concert, a concert with Bruno Ferrandis and the Santa Rosa Symphony, and a special evening performance with Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas.

A focal point for music in the region, the inaugural season in Weill Hall features an array of internationally known performers. Tickets sales for individual shows begin July 29, however music lovers who select four or more performances from the inaugural season lineup will save 10 percent on ticket prices.

Weill Hall is a traditional shoebox shaped 1,400 seat hall made with beautiful warm woods, with views of the rolling Sonoma mountains from large windows lining the walls.

Acoustically, the hall has been designed to support a broad range of programming from full symphony orchestra with chorus, to vocalists, smaller instrumental ensembles, solo recitals, jazz and world music.

The Green Music Center’s Inaugural Season
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Photo by George Rose

Wine Country Dog Concierge
The best way to enjoy Sonoma County is to experience it with friends; especially if you can bring your best friend. Wine Country Dog Concierge helps create personalized itineraries for dogs and their owners. Discover pet-friendly wineries, hotels, parks, beaches, redwoods, restaurants, and even places that offer “yappy hours”!

Owner Cindy Riggs has experience as a professional concierge at a 4-star hotel in Wine Country. She and her dog, Ladybug, have the inside scoop on the many pet-friendly options in Sonoma County. After a consultation with Riggs, she emails a personalized itinerary complete with maps and tasting discounts for wineries.

Wine Country Dog Concierge
Sonoma, CA

Supper Club Series at Copain Winery
If the gorgeous views and the great wine at Copain Winery just aren’t enough, the winery now hosts a new supper club program that is becoming one of the hottest tickets in the county, and beyond. The Copain Winery Supper Club is a series of intimate, lavish dinners showcasing local ingredients, prepared by some of the country’s hottest chefs.

The next dinner is September 2, featuring chef Corey Lee and sommelier Yoon Ha from Benu restaurant in San Francisco. Future events feature chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey from Frasca restaurant in Boulder, Colo., and acclaimed chef David Chang, chef and owner of New York restaurants Momofuku, Ma Peche, and Ko.

Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling the winery or by emailing

Copain Wines
7800 Eastside Road
Healdsburg, CA 95446

For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and
dining in Sonoma County, visit or call 800-576-6662.

About Lindsay Taub:
Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/editor who covers travel, lifestyle, culture, music/arts, food, wellness, and more. She calls Los Angeles home when she's there, but prefers to leave the city for the mountains and open spaces as often as possible. She loves cooking, gardening, live music, hiking with her three rescue dogs, and rustic luxury. Follow her on instagram/twitter @lindsaytaub and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email Learn more at and .***


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