Eat, Drink And Shop: Sebastopol Is Your Next Sonoma County Must-See
July 29th, 2021
Tucked between Santa Rosa and the Pacific shoreline, Sebastopol is an ideal pit stop to catch your breath outside of Sonoma County’s urban centers. Once filled with apple and plum orchards, the town is steeped in agricultural history, reflected in rich farm to table cuisine and emphasis on local produce. The quaint downtown district is a hub for all things spellbinding, speaking to Northern California’s affinity for the healing arts. If you’re planning a wine tour in the area, there’s no shortage of renowned vineyards and specialty breweries to balance your palette. For a convenient day out, make your way over to The Barlow, a diverse outdoor market that aims to bring Sebastopol’s past and present to a single, easy to navigate complex just off Highway 12 as you enter into town. The perfect day trip from Santa Rosa, Petaluma, or even San Francisco, Sebastopol does its best to introduce you to wine country on an intimate level. Trade crowds for charm within the span of a few blocks, and don’t miss the eccentric flair in between. Sebastopol is built on its resident businesses, so shop small and support local storefronts!
In a region where grapes are revered, homegrown food is at the forefront of local business, and one of Sebastopol’s main draws. Take your dining and drinking experiences to the next level by participating in a dairy or farm tour and see the artisans in action. Farming and producing specialty edible goods is a craft in this pocket of Sonoma County, and knowing where your meal came from only makes it better. The Barlow is designed in a way that allows you to sample throughout the day, dabbling in a bit of everything before wrapping it all up with a cocktail or glass of merlot.
The Barlow. Sebastopol, CA (WILL BUCQUOY)
On a similar note, shopping in Sebastopol is a blend of spontaneity, small interactions and fate; wander into any of The Barlow’s shops and beyond to find unexpected items with stories of their own. Whether your eye lingers on a wellness product, an accessory, or even a full-size geode, take a moment to let it speak to you; you’ll be taking home more than a souvenir.
In the Barlow
Rust Boutique is a destination for all your clothing and accessory needs, whether you’ve had a particular idea in mind for a while, or are just looking for a special new addition to a worn out wardrobe. Rust offers flow, comfort, and cool, with products that blur the lines between loungewear, activewear, and even evening wear. Empowerment is the theme, and each new arrival is chosen based on its capacity to reconsider what means feminine and what means free. Rust clothing is boundary-free, and the goal is for you to leave with a long-lasting piece you can enjoy in different ways, on a variety of occasions. Owner Alice Briggs and her staff go the extra mile to offer full personal styling services to help you feel like a better you, whether it’s for a special event or a general closet overhaul. Unparalleled customer service helps this boutique stand out; as soon as you step in, you’ll be treated as an individual rather than just a customer. Rust is California, and the best part is that you get to decide what that means to you.
Established by two friends with deep roots in both winemaking and the restaurant industry, WM. Cofield Cheesemakers embodies a surprising niche within the dairy world. The company produces British-style cheese using traditional methods from across the Atlantic; the McKinley Cheddar and Bodega Blue steal the show when it comes to a honed, multi-step aging process and subtle notes rivaling the intricacies of wine or specialty coffee. The milk used is certified organic, coming from no more than a few miles away in Petaluma. The company offers tours by appointment and plenty of cheese for sale at their location in the Barlow. Join the club and look forward to regular deliveries of each WM Cofield- produced cheese, including a mystery addition in every package!
Blue Ridge Kitchen boasts the kind of menu that caters to every guest that steps through the door, offering healthy, gourmet cooking with intentionally sourced ingredients. Start with a fresh salad, many of which include vegetables right from the restaurant gardens, and move to one chef Matt D’Ambrosi’s signature entrees. He creates in color, paying as much attention to presentation as he does to the quality of his ingredients, all selected by hand. With a wood-fired grill, Blue Ridge Kitchen’s meat dishes are a must-have, and the restaurant offers equally decadent options for its vegetarian patrons.
With a fresh approach to wine tasting, Region is redefining the way you enjoy and select your wines. Your experience will take place between two spaces, one of which offers self-service. There, you are free to use the self-serving WineStation machines to get a taste of the collection, which is varied and robust. In the next room, you’ll be served by hand, with bottle service from regional winemakers. Every week, a different winery is featured as the focus of the tastings; Region works with twenty-five in total. Many of the partnering wineries are small-scale, meaning they do not have their own tasting rooms. This is where Region steps in to make sure these businesses have a platform to share their craft. This also helps customers be exposed to wine they might not have happened upon otherwise. Region’s mission is to provide you with the time, space, and tools to truly sample and find what works for you without judgement or pressure. Understanding wine is a process, so head over to The Barlow and get started at your own pace.
If you’re looking to develop your taste for craft beer along with regional wine, stop by Woodfour for an old-fashioned brewery experience set on bringing you back to the roots. Order from the selection of small-batch ales and lagers crafted by brewmaster Seth Wood, and sip your pick alongside a small plate. The Woodfour mission is to create a drink that tastes like it should, meaning working with farmhouse style beers in an ode to traditional European brewing methods.
Right up there with Sebastopol’s lauded breweries and vineyards, Taylor Lane refines the coffee experience from a community-based angle, paying attention to energy efficiency and sustainability along the way. The shop is transparent about its roasting process, conducted by master roasters bent on coaxing out unique flavors. Every recipe is taste-tested before being unveiled to the public in the form of a perfectly layered espresso drink or single-origin pour over. Creativity, science, and craft are the pillars of Taylor Lane philosophy, and no part of the roasting, brewing, or serving process is an accident. Taylor Lane is there to fulfill your morning cravings, but also to introduce you to a coffee experience where every step of the way matters.
As one of California’s original bohemian havens, Sebastopol is more than a day trip pit stop; it’s a testament to the heart of the region thanks to local flair and constantly evolving industries. Destinations like The Barlow have secured the town’s spot on the wine country map, and you can witness the town’s history in newly opened businesses as well as longtime fixtures. With a creative spirit of an eclectic small town and its progress towards environmentally conscious agri-tourism, Sebastopol is as contemporary as it is endearing, and it refuses to conform to any specific category of vacation destination. Eat well, seek out quality products, and become part of the fabric as you get to know Sebastopol on your next visit to Sonoma County.
Read the full article by Shelby Knick, FORBES Contributor here...