Sonoma county agro tour (long)
Armed with Michele Anna Jordan's cook's tour of sonoma book, the farm trails guide, and numerous maps of Sonoma, my husband and I set out on a day of adventure. We were determined to uncover some agricultural gems detailed in Jordan's original and updated books.
First stop - Angelo's meats at 2700 Adobe Road. I think there's also one in Glen Ellen but we were glad to stop here as we met Angelo. He was kind enough to explain the differences in his hot sausages: linguica, hot Louisiana, and hot Portuguese. We got the hot Portuguese and followed his directions on eating them. They are already cooked so he recommended simmering them in a half can/bottle of beer until heated through. Just had them for dinner and they were wonderfully spicy, pungent, garlicky, juicy, and savory. Angelo himself was also very charming and we were glad to meet him.
Second stop - Volpi's at 124 Washington Street. This is an Italian restaurant and deli. We were initially tempted by the proscuitto sandwich but decided not to get anything but a bottle of Pernod which was sold to us at cost. The back of Volpi's is a speakeasy that dates back to prohibition. The deer heads on the wall look like they've heard a story or two and this was definitely a worthwhile stop if only to see this quirky piece of history.
Third stop - Petaluma Market at 210 Western Avenue. Picked up some olives and Sonoma French bread here. This market stocks many local cheeses and the produce of local growers. Great place to stock up for a picnic.
Fourth stop - Spring Hill Cheese @ 4235 Spring Hill Road. We met Lou and Larry who toured us around. Larry has great plans for his cheese farm and was great about showing us where he planned on building things. We were shown the cheese making machinery, the future tasting room, the Jersey cows being milked, the aging room, the wrap and current retail room. We purchased 1/2 pound each of Italian Giana (supposed to be similar to Port-Salut) and his Portuguese style cheese (hard grating cheese similar to Romano). One thing that impressed me about Spring HIll cheese is that the cheese is actually made from cows on site at Spring HIll farm. Larry doesn't buy milk from a different supplier, he makes it all himself from his own milk supply. He was rattling off stats about his cows and about their feed, their living conditions, their red and white blood cell counts. I'm not sure that I caught everything but he sure cares about his cows and his cheese. A good sign.
Fifth stop - Twin Hall Ranch @ 1689 Pleasant Hill Road. This place sells apples and all kinds of related paraphernalia. On premises is also Darolyn's Pies where we both indulged in pieces of gravenstein apple pie! YUM! The crust was so buttery and tender, the apple was really chunky and covered with a great layer of cinnamon and sugar. It was heaven.
Sixth stop - Green Valley Berry Farm at 9345 Ross Station Road. We picked up 2 blueberry tarts that were delicious, apricot jam, and a 1/2 pint of red ripe raspberries here.
Seventh/eighth stop - Kozlowski Farms @ 5566 Gravenstein Hwy and Foxglove Farms @ 5280 Gravenstein Hwy. We were starting to slow down as we didn't get anything at either of these two places. Kozlowski had a helpful tasting bar of many of their products like mustards, BBQ sauce, jams, fruit butters. I'd like to pick up some pumpkin butter in the fall.
Last stop - Ace in the Hole cider pub on Gravenstein HWy and Graton Road. We tried the tasting flight of their ciders which included apple, honey, pear, and berry in order of dry to sweet. Apple and pear tasted like Jolly ROger candy to us though the apple was quite clean and reminiscent of green apples. Honey was our favorite while berry reminded my husband of gewurtz while it reminded me of berry soda. For any liqeur with a raspberry taste, I'll always opt for Bonny Doon's framboise. Not as syrupy as Chambord and full of great raspberry flavor. Anyway, as a cider this didn't work for me at all.
There were actually many places we didn't have time to go to but hopefully I'll make it up again soon.
Very interesting tour. I usually go to Sonoma County for winetasting only, but after reading your report, I am more inclined to include some of your destinations as well. Visiting a cheese farm sounds like an excellent idea. If anything, it'll break up the monotony and keep things more interesting.
Can you tell me which websites you used for your research on these places? Or better yet, if you have the URLs for the places you visited handy, could you post them?
We've normally gone up for wine tours as well but as Sonoma County is so rich agriculturally, this was equally worthwhile, interesting, and delicious. Many of the places I found came from Michele Jordan's book and Melanie has been kind enough to provide the link to Amazon for you in her post.
My other resource that I used is the Sonoma County Farm Trails map and guide. This is a free guide that can be picked up at the Farmers' markets. I pickd up a copy at the Ferry Market in SF on Saturday. You can also call to request that one be sent to you though I never received one after making this request to the 800 #. Here's the phone number anyway (800) 207-9464/ (707) 571-8288. The link is also below.
Though there are maps in Jordan's book and in the farm trails guide, I'd also recommend getting a good map of Sonoma County for more detail. I also had taken the Russian River Wine Road map with me that can be found at most of the vineyards in that area to have one more data point (the vineyard one!).
Splendid, splendid post, Tida! I'm so glad that you got to resume your farm trails venture after last year's accident.
Angelo's seems to be popular these days. I stopped by the Sonoma outlet today and got the hot portuguese sandwich for my take-away lunch based on your recommendation. It's not that hot, just a gentle warmth in the mouth and tasty spice.
All your stops were in Sonoma County, but in different towns. For the record, Stops 1, 2, 3 & 4 were in Petaluma, Stop 5 in Sebastopol, Stops 6, 7 & 8 in Forestville, and Last Stop in Graton.