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Apr 18, 2013 10:33 AM

Grabbing a quick lunch around Sebastopol

A week from this Sunday four of us will be driving up from San Francisco to Hog Island Oyster (first to arrive at 11am hopefully!) and then on over to Russian River via route 1 and Bodega Hwy, with our first stop possibly being Lynmar. Is there anyplace recommended to pick up lunch? I would rather not go into Santa Rosa as we'll only have about 4 hours to visit wineries that afternoon. I would prefer it was something fast but delicious of course. Like sandwiches to go?

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  1. Willow Wood in Graton. While you're there, visit the Paul Matthews tasting room. Some discussions of wineries in the area:


    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      So can we get there and order take-out. Or is it more of a sit down place? We would prefer to take lunch with us and possibly eat at one of the wineries.

      1. re: JazzyK

        Yes. You can get both take-out and sit-down meals, as I recommended earlier.

        On some days, Lynmar prepares pizza-oven pizzas. Check into that. Goes well with their beautiful Pinots.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          Ah yes, Willow Wood is where you suggested on my other post. Sorry, we are doing a RRV, Dry Creek, and Napa day in each area so my brain is overloaded from all the research and reading. But I certainly have been having fun reading your posts from the past few years! I already know my palate is nowhere as refined as yours, but it helps to hear someone's opinion when they know what they are taking about. Thank you for your contributions!

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        Oh yes, and Paul Mathews looks very interesting. How much is the tasting?

        1. re: JazzyK

          You could call and ask. I'd guess free since they don't mention a charge on the web site. I misremembered, it's Paul Mathew.


          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I was being lazy for a couple hours, but then I did call and ask :) It's $10/person reimbursed if wine is bought.

        1. Don't miss Wild Flour Bread Bakery in Freestone (just off Bodega Hwy at the turn off to Occidental, which, IMHO, is a much nicer route to Russian River than going through Sebastopol). The breads are great and the scones are amazing (be sure to ask if there are any about to come out of the oven).

          19 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Agreed. Wild Flour Bakery is not to be missed. I personally love the Asiago Shiitake bread.

            While there, go around the corner to the tasting room for Freestone Vineyards, owned by **Joseph Phelps**. Very nice Chards and Pinots. Check out the FogDog label also.

            I love the Sebastopol Berry Farm, also close by, but don't know about berry availability. Berries and berry ice cream.

            Again, take the Freestone turn off Bohemian Highway.

            Other recommended wineries nearby: Merry Edwards, Marimar Torres and Iron Horse (bubbles).

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Wild Flour hours are 8:30am to 6:00pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
              Disappointed Thursday visitor.
              ps approximately 17-20 minutes from Lynmar.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Wild Flour sounds wonderful, but I just don't think we will have the time to stop on Sunday, especially in light of the lines that I have read about. I have a feeling I am already being somewhat ambitious about how much we can fit in that day.

                The plan is to arrive at Hog Island at 11am (or a few minutes before) and stay for about 45 minutes in order to down a few oysters. Then we'll drive to Graton and visit the Paul Mathew tasting room, pick up lunch at Willow Wood (we'll call ahead), and then arrive at Lynmar at about 1:30pm. Then I would like to visit Iron Horse, Wooden Head, and Arista. Arista closes at 5pm so I plan on getting there no later than 4:30. We will skip Wooden Head if we are short on time. Then we would like to take a walk at Armstrong Redwoods at the end of the day. Dinner will be either at Boon Eat + Drink in Guerneville, Willis Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, or at Tomi Thai in Windsor (where our hotel is).

                Does this seem unrealistic?

                1. re: JazzyK

                  What it sounds like is a forced march. Five wineries in one afternoon is too many -- there have been innumerable people who have posted here with plans for five wineries, and when they report back they almost invariably say they either ended up dropping some or felt it was too many. I'm not sure it's even physically possible to do all you have planned in four and a half hours, and even if it were, your palate will give up before you're done. Always feeling rushed, gulping wine and gobbling down food, is no way to spend a day (IMHO).

                  Pick three and stop and smell the roses!

                  1. re: JazzyK

                    <<Does this seem unrealistic?>>


                    You are completely underestimating drive times, waiting in line and paying, getting settled, enjoying yourself and each other and the views. Cut your itinerary to a third of what it is.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      So we will plan on cutting out either Paul Mathew or Wooden Head. I think it might be feasible to visit 4 wineries since Arista is open until 5.

                      1. re: JazzyK

                        you are cutting out the wrong wineries....

                        1. re: JazzyK

                          Cutting Paul Mathew wouldn't save much time since you'll be stopping at Willow Wood anyway.

                          If you're running late, cut Woodenhead, it's more of a detour from the route to Healdsburg than the rest.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Yes, I think you may be right. We will plan on not visiting Woodenhead, but if some reason we end up having time then we will stop by.

                            Honestly I would rather plan on too many wineries and as the day progresses, skipping a winery or two that are lower on our priority list. We won't have any appointments that day, although I am considering making an appointment at Lynmar. I read that an appointment is not necessary, but that it may be better as they are very busy. Thoughts?

                            And I am open to recommendations on wineries. This is what I came up with in my research, and considering our interests. One consideration is that we are coming from the coast and wanted to end up kind of near Armstrong Redwoods Reserve (not that we are really, I was having some trouble with that aspect). I would prefer places with pretty scenery and good wines. We are not big fans of Old World style wines, but don't desire fruit bombs either. We are looking for well balanced, fruit forward wines. I wanted tasting fees to be between $10-$15. And we thought it would be fun to throw in a sparkling wine tasting, in addition to trying some delicious Pinot Noirs. I am open to suggestions...

                            1. re: JazzyK

                              Hog Island on a Sunday is jammed. Even on a weekday when it's not jammed, figure 15 minutes to wait in line and get your oysters and accoutrement, another 15 minutes to find a table and haul in picnic supplies (IF there's a table available on a Sunday), another 15 minutes to shuck oysters, 30 minutes minimum to consume them, and that's with no additional time to linger and enjoy the view and each other. The time for a visit is 75 to 90 minutes minimum, with a 45-50 minute drive to Graton. So skip Hog Island or go on a different day.

                              Concentrate your visits to one small area -- around Graton and the western edge of Sebastopol. There, you'll find Willow Wood Cafe, Paul Matthews, Lynmar, Merry Edwards, Freeman **, Dutton Goldfield** (warehouse setting with beautiful wines), Littorai** and a bubbly house, Iron Horse. Picking up lunch and tasting at Paul Matthews, followed by visits to three wineries close to one another will easily take you to 5 pm, without having to race around like maniacs. Be aware you're planning for four people, and it's easy to create resentment if your traveling companions feel rushed when they'd prefer to linger a bit.

                              With four of you, on a Sunday, wineries and tasting rooms appreciate groups who make reservations. You'll have a better visit if you do anyway.

                              Plan enough time at each winery to allow for five pours for each of four people, conversation, and enough time for purchases and to enjoy the view. Figure an hour at each winery, before any drive time between them. Plan time to stop at fruit stands, markets and cool little stores -- it would be a shame if you couldn't stop if you wanted to because your unrealistic schedule prevented it.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                You have given me some things to consider. Less driving time would be nice. I really did want to visit Aritsa b/c I liked what I had read about it, but it really is out of the way. I am skeptical about Merry Edwards b/c I thought that I had read that their wines are very "earthy" (??). I had Dutton-Goldfield on my list at one point but decided that, although the wines sound delicious, I would also like someplace with a little scenery. And we will already be visiting Paul Mathews, which is only a tasting room too. I will look into the other ones you mentioned.

                                I am a little confused about Hog Island. I am not interested in shucking my own oysters (I do it in my kitchen enough). I wanted to visit the boat, which opens at 11am and is a cafe with raw and BBQ oysters on it's menu. If we get there 15-20 minutes before 11am, I assumed we could place our order as soon as they open and simply eat a few oysters while looking at the view and be on our way.

                                Anyways, thank you and I will continue to revise. I am also having some issues with our Napa itinerary, but that may be a separate post.

                                1. re: JazzyK

                                  Huh, first I've heard of The Boat. How long have they been doing that? Friday through Monday, 11 - 4:30.


                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I was surprised, too, but there's a mention of it on yelp going back to January of last year, so it's not a new thing. Only open Friday-Monday, 11-4:30.

                                  2. re: JazzyK

                                    Oh, I see. The Boat is the name of the oyster bar at HI.

                                    Really, truly, if that's all you're gonna do -- sit at the tiny bar and have a plate of shucked oysters, I'd skip it.

                                    I'd go if your plans were to bring a picnic with side dishes for the oysters, get a table on the water and enjoy the air and the view, and spend a quality non-rushed time with your friends. But to sit at the bar away from the real action and the water and drive there for that, no way.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      Looking at photos online, seating for The Boat is outside next to the reserveable picnic tables.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Yes, it looks beautiful, doesn't it? We don't have very many opportunities to eat oysters right from the source, so I think it seems perfect. I read that the drive up from San Francisco is is beautiful too, probably prettier than driving up 101, albeit much longer...

                                        1. re: JazzyK

                                          The drive up 1 is lovely, but slow and winding until past Stinson. Going up 101 and out Lucas Valley is faster and also great scenery.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          The Bar isn't on the water, though, and when I've been there, the turnaround time hasn't been all that fast on shucked oysters, info on the phone notwithstanding. Just my impressions, but I have been to HI quite a bit.

                          2. re: JazzyK

                            Very ambitious schedule, ultimately it is up to you to decide what wineries to visit and which to skip.

                            Very good choices for dinner, all very different. Tomi Thai is our favorite Thai restaurant in the Bay Area, it is that good. Assuming that you are staying at the Holiday Inn Express, you can walk to Tomi Thai which will be a welcome relief after a hectic morning and afternoon.

                            Enjoy your trip!!

                      2. in Sebastopol:
                        Hole in the Wall Restaurant
                        Sun 7 am - 9 pm
                        972 Gravenstein Hwy S
                        Ste 100
                        Sebastopol, CA 95472
                        (707) 861-3777

                        Mom's Apple Pie
                        4550 Gravenstein Hwy N
                        Sebastopol, CA 95472
                        (707) 823-8330
                        Sun 10 am - 6 pm

                        in Forestville:
                        Sun 9 am - 9 pm
                        6566 Front Street
                        Forrestville, CA

                        I understand your time constraints - but try to stop in Freestone at Wild Flour Bread
                        140 Bohemian Hwy
                        Freestone, CA 95472
                        (707) 874-2938

                        The Freestone Country Store and the Valley Ford Market make sandwiches, too.

                        I also love Willow Wood in Graton.

                        1. Wild Flour is actually right on your way from Hog Island to Paul Matthews. I'll add my voice to the choir that its worth checking out. In Freestone you'll also find Phelp's Freestone winery. Have not had their Sonoma pinot, but I find them reliably excellent.

                          Adding Armstrong Redwoods into the mix is what will really make your plan a stretch. An alternative would be to head into the coastal ridge in Cazadero where you will find the best Sonoma ridge pinots. Others may have ideas for which wineries are best to visit. But the road to those wineries will give you plenty of coastal redwood sights. The problem is that many of these wineries are way off the beaten track, making it hard to hit more than one or two in a day.