PASSPORT MAGAZINE by Rich Rubin
The slogan on Sonoma County Tourism’s website (www.sono-
macounty.com) is “Life Opens Up,” and that’s exactly what’s happening throughout this gorgeous county at the heart of northern California’s wine country. With places reopening, there’s been a return of the vibrancy that has
always marked this mellow region. Life is truly opening up in Sonoma County, and visitors are returning in droves to check out new and familiar spots.
About twenty minutes from here, back towards Guerneville, you’ll find the quirky town of Sebastopol, always a good place for foodies and now burgeoning with wonderful new spots to eat. Blue Ridge Kitchen (6770 McKinley St., Sebastopol CA. Tel: 707-222-5040. www.brkitchen.com), which opened lastAugust, is everyone’s favorite new restaurant. The airy space in the Barlow (a former applesauce factory converted into a collection of shops, restaurants, and tast-
ing rooms) has horse murals on the wall, a bar with seating at the center, and a
huge patio. The food’s great, there’s a nice vibe somewhere between down-
home and upscale, and I love the spacious, friendly feel of the place.
Opened last July in the Barlow, Region Wine Bar (180 Morris St., Sebastopol CA. Tel: 707-329-6724. www.drinkyourregion.com) is my new favorite place to enjoy the vast variety of Sonoma County wines. With two commodious rooms and both covered and uncovered patios, you can relax on a couch or sit at a high counter while enjoying the best the region has to offer. You get your own “card,” head to the ten columns of wine dispensers, choose your wine (and how much you want, from a taste to a full glass), and it’s all recorded on your card to be paid at the end of your visit. The staff is super-friendly, the contemporary, wide-open feel is as relaxing as the wine drinking, the music is great, and I can’t think of anywhere that offers quite the variety and the comfort.
*Photo: Sonoma County Vineyard by Timothy S. Allen