At Cheveux Salon, a team of highly trained stylists rents chairs and trades inspiration while clipping, coloring, and styling locks. The team includes owner Sharna Haver, a stylist with over 20 years of experience, as well as graduates of academies such as Vidal Sassoon, Redken Exchange, Paul Mitchell, and Unite. They stock their stations with favorite products, including sprays, shampoos, gels, and clown-wig glue by Redken, Agadir Argan Oil, and Wella Professional.
A favorite of locals and tourists alike, Tiddle E. Winks grants entrance into the time-sealed toy-shopping past and rekindles memories for adults and immortal highlanders alike. Miss Winks' eponymous shop houses aisle upon aisle of antique-inspired do-dads, from jumping beans and flavored milk straws, to jaw harps and handheld rodeo pinball games. Munch on some authentic teaberry gum before prepping for a high-noon potato-gun duel or dab reminiscent tears away with a Sonoma County–themed towel as you reorganize your Beverly Hillbillies trading cards. As a nod to its community esteem, Sonoma's mayor proclaimed September 1 be Tiddle E. Winks Day, during which citizens must address each other as "honey bear" and all town hamburgers cost a prohibitively shiny nickel.
Two literature-loving founders tuck thousands of new and used titles into heavy wooden shelves at Readers' Books. Browse new copies of contemporary fiction titles such as Philip Roth's Nemesis ($26 in hardcover) and The Glass Castle ($15 in paperback) by Jeannette Walls. Other specialties include poetry, food and wine books, and children's literature, an ideal match for eccentric child gourmands who speak only in rhyme. Most new books sell at list price, with a selection of titles at discounts of up to 40% off regular prices. Used volumes that average about half their list prices eagerly wag bindings in the hopes of attracting a loving new owner. While stock varies daily, customers may uncover gently used word art such as Lucky ($6) by Alice Sebold and On Gold Mountain ($8) by Lisa See, both in paperback.
Perennial award winners at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the vintners at Meadowcroft Wines craft a selection of 17 wines and lead guests in informative wine tastings. A 30-minute tasting allows oenophiles to sample a variety of Meadowcroft's reserve wines, including its 2009 chardonnay, a retro burgundian-style wine with citrus and hazelnut aromatics, and its 2008 cabernet, which tastes like wine. During the tasting, held in Meadowcroft's wine garden, the vino will be paired with a selection of local charcuterie samplings and artisanal cheeses, known as the peanut butter to wine's jelly. Afterward, tasters take home a bottle of Meadowcroft reserve wine. Tastings are scheduled daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
A full-service gear and instruction shop, Leland Fly Fishing casts fledgling cod catchers into the heart of small-stream adventure with its introductory fly-fishing lessons. Each lesson acquaints amateur anglers with rod, line, fly, and fish during two hours of small-group instruction. Taught on the ranch's private trout lakes, the class covers basic terminology and strategy, as well as a seven-step technique progression to build the perfect cast for hauling in plaque-worthy piscean prizes and sunken mini fridges. Hands-on coaching ensures that each lure launcher leaves with an understanding of fly casting, fly-line construction, and leader tapering, laying a solid base for continued hours of self-practice. Students will be strapped with all the necessary equipment for their first round of line flinging and duck debating, and previously experienced bait pitchers are welcome to bring their own. Classes are held Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
In his storeroom stocked with handmade cheeses, John Raymond employs his curd comprehension and milk mastery to educate tasters on the history, process, and complex flavors of a multitude of artisan cheeses. Group tastings introduce gruyere greenhorns to the cheese industry, giving an overview of the taste and textural differences among varieties. As many as 30 cheese enthusiasts may attend a group tasting with the freedom to try between six and nine types, and all are invited to bring their own bottles of wine for a perfect palate pairing.
Slip a pair of rose-tinted glasses on your brain and whisk worries to a time-out corner with today’s grapey Groupon. For $29, you’ll get a tasting for two people ($30 value) and bottle of 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir ($32 value) from Cuvaison Estate Wines, whose modern, green-certified South Napa tasting room was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “stunning, panoramic views”.