From San Francisco to the Oregon border, it is easy to find culinary treasures. Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. Discover West Marin by visiting the farm at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. or take a gourmet guided tour with West Marin Food & Farm Tours. Experience Point Reyes in a whole new way, enjoy exclusive behind the scenes tours and private tastings of the best wines, cheeses, breads, produce, grass-fed meats and oysters in the area. Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is not to be missed.
Take a delicious trip along the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail, or experience a farm via the Farm Trail. Learn to cook a new dish from a Wine Country Chef. Milk a cow or a goat and learn how to make artisan cheese and butter. Specialty foods include local honey, lavender, olives and olive oil, Verjus, and spirits beyond wine and beer. Spring Hill Cheese Co, Lavender Bee Farm and Marin French Cheese Company are 3 great choices. Sonoma County is also home to the Cowgirl Creamery for divine cheese and McClelland’s Dairy which produces a whole range of dairy products. Clover Stornetta Farms is in Petaluma. Healdsberg and north has many wineries and tasting rooms and is known for full flavored Zinfendel. Some wineries to note are: Everett Ridge (great views and wine), Papapietro Perry, Michel Schlumberger, Quivira, Mazzocco and A. Rafanelli. On the square in Healdsburg you can find La Crema and Murphy Goode among others. There are also numerous great restaurants on the same square. For winery information check www.sonomawine.com
Moving north to Mendocino County, you will find olive oil in Hopland. Olivino has a press and is set up for tours. They press most of the oil that’s produced in Mendocino County. Hopland also has craft beer at the Mendocino Brewing Co. In Potter Valley, Oliveto del Vecchio grows olives and presses them too. While you are there, check out McFadden Farm. At McFadden everything is grown and prepared with emphasis on both flavor and beauty. They specialize in organic herbs and garlic. Each product reflects the unique qualities of this special place. Anderson Valley has a new sheep farm that produces artisanal goat cheese. Penny Royal near Boonville will be open to the public soon. AV also boasts over 30 family run wineries (www.mendowine.com), request a wine map from Visit Mendocino County.
Humboldt County has culinary treasures too. Like the Loleta Cheese Factory, in Loleta, where you can watch their organic cheeses being made and taste the 34 varieties!
If you like good beer you’ve come to the right place. Humboldt County has several microbreweries, all with award-winning beers. Eel River Brewing Company in Fortuna is the country’s first certified organic brewery and continues that tradition by serving Humboldt County organic grass-fed beef in their tap room and grill.
Also recommended is the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, which is the first brewery in the country owned by two women. Six Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville has more exotic brews like their Chili Pepper Spicy Ale, the Paradise Moon Coffee Porter, Rosie’s Strawberry Wheat beer and Raspberry Lambic-Style Ale. Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake serves up a variety of ales and is proud to have won the “Small Brewery of the Year” award at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.
Humboldt Bay produces more than half of the oysters in California, which means these delicious local oysters are served at many of Humboldt County’s local restaurants. They include The Sea Grill in Old Town Eureka, Restaurant 301 near the Carson Mansion in Eureka, Café Waterfront near the bay in Old Town Eureka, The Plaza Grill and Abruzzi Restaurant in Arcata, the VI Restaurant in Ferndale, and the Moonstone Grill in Trinidad.
For a more in-depth oyster experience, take an oyster boat tour of Humboldt Bay with Humboldt Bay Oyster Tours where you can harvest your own oysters.
For a variety of oysters don’t miss the Arcata Oyster Festival every June in Arcata’s Plaza. This lively festival features more than 35 vendors serving up thousands of oysters any and every way imaginable. Try them roasted, barbecued, fried, on the half-shell or on pizza, with secret sauces and with wild abandon.
Most of the wine regions are in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, but Humboldt boasts some wineries such as Elk Prairie Vineyard in Myers Flat and Briceland Vineyards in Redway, both of which offer tours and tastings by appointment. Moonstone Crossing Winery has a tasting room in beautiful Trinidad.
Ferndale, the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, the Eel River Brewery in Fortuna. Oyster farms and the Arcata Bay Oyster Festival. Most of the wine regions are in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties but Humboldt boasts some wineries such as Elk Prairie, Briceland and Moonstone Crossing.