Once upon a time, Victorian Farmstead Meat Co. was an "unassuming shack” on a Christmas-tree farm, according to Sunset magazine. However, after Adam Parks returned home to take over his parent’s 40-year-old tree farm, he converted the shack into a thriving meat and poultry shop that earned a slot on Sunset’s list of the top 50 local food shops in the west. Before picking out their gourmet cuts of lamb, chicken, and grass-fed beef, visitors can peruse the surrounding pastures, where sheep, chicken, and turkeys graze alongside miniature horses that are hoping to turn into reindeer.
Part pasture-raised ranch and still part Christmas-tree farm, the company raises all of its meat on Sonoma County pasture, ensuring the livestock eat a natural diet and soaks up plenty of sunshine. The results are beef cuts from bone-in rib eye to carne asada, chicken breasts, racks of lamb, and a monthly rotation of sausage, including spicy herb chicken sausage and aged Spanish-style chorizo.
Beneath the high ceilings of Cast Away's yarn shop, towering shelves overflow with bundles of color-coordinated wool, cashmere, and alpaca yarn. Cobblers' tool shelves, iron baby bathtubs, and even a dingy retired from its maritime duties catch the runoff, creating a homey space peppered with vibrant colors for a distinctly bohemian feel.
At the center of this antique bliss is a pair of vintage armchairs, where customers can recline and survey how-to books or familiarize themselves with the supplies for one of Cast Away's staff-taught classes. Though the calendar implies a steady buzz of activity, the shop's proprietor doesn't stop there. She regularly books notable authors and designers for workshops and special lessons that center around projects such as knitted afghan squares and lace vests that add old-timey charm to an outfit without forcing one to wear steel gauntlets.
In its four-decade history, Bananas at Large has provided production equipment and instruments to musical acts including the Grateful Dead, Carlos Santana, and Poison. At both the business' locations, soon-to-be superstars can stock up on their own equipment from well known and specialty brand names. Musicians just learning to tickle guitars till they cry melodies meet with dedicated teachers, many of whom studied music in school or have played professionally for years. In classes, the teachers draw upon their backgrounds in genres from funk to classical to lead 30- to 45-minute classes on instruments including the guitar, keyboard, and drums.
For nearly four decades, the Parks and Good families have tilled the fields and nurtured the trees of Victorian Tree Ranch, brightening up holidays with Douglas firs, Silvertips, and cedar garlands. Family members labor alongside each other as they work to make the tree ranch more sustainable, letting laying hens coop among the trees to fertilize the plants. Visitors dive head-first into holiday spirit as they peruse the rows of conifers, sip complimentary apple cider, munch on homemade pumpkin bread, and enjoy the company of snowmen. Customers can also take refuge from the cold in the warming hut.
Situated in the Railroad Square Historic District, Cellars of Sonoma's quaint storefront gives way to a warm, lofted interior where wines from nine boutique vintners flow. Single tastings or themed flights offer flavorful introductions to a selection of more than 60 bottles. As visitors sidle up to the carved wooden bar, they can sip crisp Pinot Noir with hints of cherry, or try a bright, clear Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of lime, banana, and honeysuckle.