Best Wine Country Farmers Markets
We going to be up in Napa and Sonoma for the first two weeks in July. We're hoping to craft our own picnic baskets from provisions we find at the amazing farmers markets in the area. We're not afraid to cook and have a kitchen at our hotel we can use. Which are the best farmers markets with the best selections?
p.s. We'd love to hear of any other food adventures (not restaurants) we should consider such as cheese factory tours, olive oil tastings, etc.
Re: "food adventures" go check out Kozlowski Farms in Forestville (West Sonoma County) They're located at 5566 Gravenstein Hwy N. They make gourment/specialty jams, sauces, vinegars, chutneys, mustards, etc. Everything they make is available to taste, and they have a deli/bakery there. It's a nice drive with plenty to see along the way, and it's located in the heart of the Russian River Valley wine appelation.
Here's a link to the Farmers Markets that you can search by "Napa" and "Sonoma"
What town is your hotel in? What is your base?
As much as I like the Marin Civic Center Farmers market, if you were staying in Healdsburg, it would be a major drive.
In Sonoma there is a Tuesday evening Farmers market that has music and people sit on the town square with picknics. Vendor-wise I'd give them a B ... not as big as some ... not as small as some.
Also in Sonoma is The Cheesemakers Daughter which is run by the owners of Vella Cheese (also recommended). Sonoma Market is a must stop for picnic supplies. Most of the major area bakeries are represented there. They have a great deli with over 80 type of olives.
The fig pantry is another good deli place to pick up supplies.
There's lots of farms as you wander around. Sonoma Farm Trails lists a lot of them.
Have fun. Hope you report back about what you tried.
In Napa Co. I think the St. Helena FM on Friday morning and the Tuesday morning Napa FM at Copia are the best, in that order. The Saturday morning Napa market is not as good as Tuesday. http://www.sthelenafarmersmkt.org/default.htm I'm also partial to the small Friday morning market in Sonoma for Hector's honey. I think he's also at Healdsburg and probably other Sonoma Co. markets.
Have heard good things about Round Pond's olive oil tasting and tour: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/400628?query=round%20pond
And Long Meadow Ranch http://www.longmeadowranch.com/
One underappreciated food adventure is the Bale Grist Mill in St Helena - an historic grain mill where you can see your flour/cornmeal/polenta being ground between two enormous stones and then take it home. Great polenta. Only gives tours on weekends http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=482
Edited to add: Don't miss the many roadside strawberry stands in Napa and Sonoma Co. In July, they may close for days at a time when it is too hot, but reopen when it cools down. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394350
re: Junie D
Had my first salumi from Fatted Calf yesterday - perfect for the OPs picnic basket. FC is at the Tuesday Napa market now in expectation of opening in the Oxbow Market currently under construction. Opening fall 07? A quick taste of petit sec and fegatelli - I am blown away. Maybe there will be life after the closing of Vallergas.
I think the farmer's market in Healdsburg is the best in Sonoma County and I have been to all of them. The market begins at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings and on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM.
The market at the Civic Center on Sunday and Thursday mornings in Marin County is also great as mentioned in previous post.
In Sonoma I like to pick up some picnic supplies at Vella Cheese (not sure about tours). And directly across the street is The Patch, which is a co-op garden where you can pick up some fresh picked produce. Not sure what they have at the patch right now, they have a small selection, but I always find a couple of things there that are great.
Marin Civic Center has a huge farmer's market on Sunday. It's a 30 minute drive or so from Sonoma, but they have a great selection across all food groups. And it's in a beautiful setting in Marin at the Frank Ghery designed civic center.
There are other markets in Napa in and Sonoma that are closer, so hit those too. Other hounds can give you better details on those.