Each of Lumberjacks Restaurant’s six locations invites patrons to sup on grandiose portions amid mostly wooden, log-cabin-inspired décor. A giant flannel-clad lumberjack greets guests at entryways, and inside, rustic walls display handheld saws like the one George Washington once used to carve his many girlfriends' initials into cherry trees. Hunter-green booths flank tables weighed down by giant burgers, sandwiches, and steaks that dare guests to leave hungry. Chefs also concoct classic breakfast fare, including skillets, waffles, omelets, and eggs benedict.
Pacific Tapas infuses the compact cuisine of Spanish tapas with the zinging flavors of the Pacific Rim to create plates full of mix and match delicacies. The rotating menu bewilders noshers with hypnotic swirls and a plethora of choices, which may include the gambas con pancetta, composed of grilled prawns wrapped in spanish bacon and served with a side of sherry dipping sauce ($10.50). Carnivores and horribly confused sea turtles can enjoy the chuletas de cordero, which pairs lamb shoulder chops rubbed in a coating of garlic with cucumber slices and a heap of grilled peach and corn salsa ($10.50) or the empanada turnovers featuring swirling serrano ham and manchego cheese topped with roasted red pepper and sautéed onions ($10.50). While sipping on the two glasses of sangria ($8 value each), watch a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean or defiantly challenge the moon to a staring contest.
Named for the iconic director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery gratifies grape groupies with a wide array of virtuosic vinos. Pirouette your way into the Bottling Ballet Mechanique tour for a chance to examine the winery’s bottling process, which is exactly the same process used to bottle model ships. From the huge barrels of grape soup in which wines are born to the priceless glass containers into which they’re packaged, the 45-minute tour—which takes its name from the way each bottle shimmies and pirouettes down the line—gives guests the chance to see and more fully comprehend how wine comes to take its uniformly bottle-like shape. Visitors also learn the back-stories behind the winery’s labels and take part in a palate-expanding tasting, completing the beautiful circle of libationary life.
When lifelong friends Chris Medlock James and Ames Morison arrived at the rolling pastures and manzanita trees of Bell Mountain Vineyard—heralded as a “near definition of utopia” by Food & Wine magazine—they knew instantly that this was the spot. The pair came to the decision after two years of scouring Sonoma County for the ideal property to start their own wine estate on—that was in 1998. Today, Chris and Ames have their grape-emblazoned flag firmly planted in Sonoma County's wine culture. They've done so by using a completely holistic approach to winemaking—one they believe reflects the beauty of their land and that relies solely on organic farming and solar power. Their philosophy even carries over to their method of pest control, which uses corridors instead of high fences, allowing nuisance animals such as wild pigs and deer to pass through certain spots in the vineyard without harming the fruit, the guests, or themselves. In the same nature-loving vein, Chris and Ames rely on barn owls and hawks to hunt rodents.
With 320 total acres at its disposal, Medlock Ames takes up only 56 with vineyards, leaving the rest for oaks and flowers to grow freely. Upon this portion of the land, Chris and Ames begin their small-production process, which continues inside their custom-built winery with gentle gravity-flow techniques and natural yeast fermentation. The process yields a wide range of high-quality artisan wines, from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to merlot and cabernet sauvignon. The duo makes the fruits of their labor available in their nearby tasting room, as well as during wine-tasting experiences and tours of their production facility at Bell Mountain Ranch, available for Wine Club members only.
To enliven the local, organic produce that fills his kitchen, Chef Vinay Patel welcomes monthly shipments of spices from India, such as turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, and cardamom. After seasoning his meats, he lowers them into a clay tandoor to cook over handpicked, hardwood mesquite charcoal. For all the effort that goes into each chicken dish, curry, and biryani, the Bohemian has awarded Sizzling Tandoor Indian Restaurant its Best Indian award for 22 years running.
The dishes sprawl from traditional entrees to Northern and Southern Indian specialties and Indo-Chinese fusion dishes. Chefs also tandoor-fire nearly a dozen types of bread, including naan, paratha, and gluten-free and vegan missi roti to sop up sauces. Rather than placing a miniature fire extinguisher at each table, chefs calibrate each dish's spiciness from mild to hot.
As diners expand the depth of their palate, an Indian ambiance envelops their body. At the Santa Rosa location, live belly dancers charm and entertain on Friday and Saturday night, and live musicians stop by for events such as Samosas and Sitar. While watching, guests can nurse Indian beers and specialty cocktails including the Sizzling Sunset, which ups the ante of traditional mango lassi with vodka.
At a candlelit table in the Restaurant at Applewood—awarded a Michelin star in 2001 and 2012 and garnering top-ratings from Zagat—gourmet Californian cuisine sings of all things local and sustainable. Chefs Michelle Cerneant and Tyja Taube have imbued their cooking philosophy with green practices, plucking fresh herbs and vegetables from an onsite organic garden for their entrees. And maybe that's the secret to the robust flavors of their miso-glazed California cod, wetted with a ginger broth, and their grilled beef tenderloin, paired with house-foraged hedgehog mushrooms. The six-acre property surrounding the Applewood Inn also features fruit trees, whose yields enable sweet, finger-licking desserts of honey cannoli with figs and apricots.
The consistently fresh dishes complement a wine list pages long. Diners sit back and swirl their choice varietal as they overlook the courtyard near a stone fireplace. The Restaurant combines international nostalgia—simultaneously reminiscent of a French barn and an Italian Villa—while melding its classic-style dining with its forward-looking use of solar energy and refusal to rely upon imported mountain breezes.
Vine Tastings ripens appetites with a full menu of boutique Sonoma County wines and small appetizer plates for pairing and singular enjoyment. The friendly wine bar carries anywhere from eight to 10 different vino vintages from small local wineries, available by the flight, glass, or bottle. Guests can sip, swish, or slam dunk a variety of inebriating grape derivatives, such as the Branham 2007 chardonnay from Russian River Valley ($8 per glass), the Deux Amis 2007 pinot noir from Donnelly Creek Vineyards and Anderson Valley ($7 per glass), and the Et Cetera 2008 Sonoma County merlot ($6 per glass), or choose any three 2-ounce tastings for $10. Pair tipples with delicious charcuterie plates, or cheeses.