As we noted in our previous "5 Adventures" blog, Sonoma County brims with “musts” to explore year-round. Here are some more wonderful places to discover.
1. The Green Music Center debuted in late 2012 at Sonoma State University, and it’s still one of the hottest tickets in town for a long list of remarkable performers. The state-of-the-art theater, concert hall and lawn performance space brings to life such stars as The Silk Road Ensemble, Lyle Lovett, and Philharmonia Baroque. There’s an on-site restaurant with white cloth service, and you’ve got to love that the center has a recital hall named after the Peanuts character Schroeder in honor of Jeannie and Charles M. Schulz's contributions to the university and ties to the community.
1801 East Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 866-955-6040, gmc.sonoma.edu.
2. There’s a treasure trove of shopping, wine tasting and dining at The Barlow, a 220,000-square-foot, $23.5 million culinary and art center set in a former apple cannery property at the southeastern entrance to Sebastopol. Can you say Zazu Kitchen + Farm, from chef/owner/Next Iron Chef contender Duskie Estes and her husband/butcher John Stewart? How about Woodfour Brewing Company, an on-site brewery and gastropub with delights like Maitake mushrooms with 63° farm egg, purple barley and black garlic soubise, or braised pork belly with sunchoke, Asian pear, sunflower and pickled mustard? Tamarind brings boutique women’s clothing, there are several artisan wine tasting rooms, Taylor Maid Farms coffee roastery, Spirit Works Distillery for handcrafted gin and whiskey, and so much more (http://www.thebarlow.net/tenant).
200 Morris St., Sebastopol, 707-824-5600, thebarlow.net.
3. Follow the Cheese Trail, and discover the actual producers of famous cheeses like Bellwether and Laura Chenel. Chart your course with the printed or online version of the official Cheese Trail map, for delights like the Achadinha Cheese Company of Petaluma, where the 900 goats graze year-round on verdant pastures, supplemented by brewers’ grain from local breweries.
4. Get even more culture at Fort Ross State Historic Park in Jenner. The word Ross comes from the word for Russia (Rossiia) – appropriate since the Russians founded the fort in 1812, as an outpost for otter hunting. Today, the park opens on weekends to tours, interpretive walks, and guided visits conducted in English or Russian. Points of interest include a historical wood windmill used to grind grain into flour for baking bread, and to power the stamping of local tan bark used in the hide tanning industry. A new windmill was built in Russia and placed on the grounds as part of the park’s bicentennial. Visitors can look for and learn about local marine life like sea lions lounging on the cliffs below, stroll around the orchard planted centuries ago, and enjoy changing art and performance presentations celebrating Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions.
19005 Highway 1, Jenner, 707-847-3437, fortross.org.
5. Get to the heart of the grapevines, with a horseback riding tour of Chalk Hill Estates on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley. The stable there used to house Olympic-caliber dressage horses and is now managed by Wine Country Trail Rides, owned and operated year-round by professional polo player Rafael Hernandez. The hour-plus gambols atop well trained, gentle former polo ponies traverses the natural amphitheater of mountains dotted in heritage oak woodlands, natural riparian streams, and a Spanish style chapel built in honor of the estate’s original owners. It all wraps up with complimentary samplings of wine back in the tasting room.
10300 Chalk Hill Rd., 707-657-4837, healdsburgvineyardrides.com.
Tip: Your adventure is home-grown, and so is Sonoma County-based Pure Luxury Transportation. Make a day of sightseeing, and make it easy, with your private chauffeured limo or Town Car driving you everywhere.