Fogust is here, so you’ll need to seek sun and warm evenings outside of SF (if that’s your thing). Didn’t plan a summer trip, but still want to get out of town? I hear you. I’ve enjoyed a couple weekends out of the city in Guerneville and Anderson Valley (where things didn’t seem at capacity), so I’m pulling together some ideas for you to choose from to create a fun getaway/long weekend. Mix and match. Let’s hit the road to Guerneville and Anderson Valley first, and I’ll have Mendocino in a separate writeup soon. (I hope to make one more trip up to Anderson Valley later this summer, and I will update this piece with more info!) Since everyone is still struggling with the pandemic, be sure to call ahead before heading over to any of these spots.
First stop: BOON HOTEL + SPA in Guerneville, about 90 minutes outside of SF if you time your drive right. I recently went up for an event (it’s such a beautiful drive on River Road), and was so happy to see what an extra-cool oasis the property has grown into, thanks to the vision of Crista Luedtke and her fabulous team (and mom!). And it’s adults only, so you won’t have to deal with any screeching kids when you’re at the pool or hot tub.
I stayed the night in one of their stylish glamping tents, which is a more-affordable way to visit the property, and it makes you feel a bit like a kid again—but you’ll sleep on a real mattress (with a mattress pad heater, so you won’t be cold at night), and you can enjoy breakfast in bed with your tent door open with a view of the greenery and trees outside, lovely. (Just so you know, the bathroom and showers are super close.) Book yourself a spa treatment, you deserve it.
Since you already drove from SF to Guerneville, the 90-minute drive to Anderson Valley won’t be such a haul (take Eastside Road up to Healdsburg for a scenic country route). A great spot to visit in Boonville is the recently opened OFFSPRING at the Farrer Building, serving wood-fired, thin-crust pizza from the Boonville Hotel crew, who are just across the street.
There’s a spacious deck and shaded back patio, where you can enjoy beautiful, peak-season vegetable dishes and some next-level pizzas, like the chorizo ($21), with smoky tomato, fior di latte mozzarella, and charred onions, drizzled with their brilliant pickled Calabrian chile honey (I am obsessed). There’s also a carbonara pizza (a perfect brunch pizza), but I went for the decadent morel mushroom pizza with Taleggio, béchamel, red onions, thyme, and Log Lifter goat mozzarella. (They’re large, so you’ll want to share.) Open Tue-Fri 5pm-8:30(ish)pm and Sat 12pm-8:30(ish)pm.
Pop next door for an affogato from PAYSANNE, with housemade ice cream from the Boonville fam—I loved my espresso shot over their cardamom ice cream. They also have savory and sweet pastries and treats.
You’ll want to pick up some Piment d’Ville in the adjoining FARMHOUSE MERCANTILE, as well as any other Boonville Barn Collective chiles (or housewares) that capture your fancy.
I have never stayed at the BOONVILLE HOTEL, but everyone I know who has stayed there loves the modern roadhouse vibes, and dinner from chef Perry Hoffman is something very special (they serve dinner in their courtyard during warmer weather). On Sundays, they host four-course paella dinners you can reserve (and there are small plates and beverages available at 4pm, which is supposed to be a fun scene).
You absolutely want to book an experience at PENNYROYAL FARM, known for their handmade, seasonal, farmstead cheeses made daily from their adorable goats and sheep. Book a farm tour ($30) so you can learn about their regenerative farm practices while you visit the different generations of goats (which all wear name tags!) and say “Hi” to Isis, their guard alpaca. You’ll learn how the winery works in closed-loop concert with the farm (example: they designed the barn so they can easily transfer the manure weekly for composting into fertilizer for the vineyards, along with grape skins).
The alchemy of this sustainable property all comes together in the wine and cheese tasting on the back patio—you’ll taste owner-vintner Sarah Cahn Bennett’s estate wines, like the sauvignon blanc with the fresh Laychee cheese, and brut rosé with vintage Boont Corners (aged five-seven months). All the cheeses are named from Boontling, the language that originated in Boonville at the end of the 19th century. (Just imagine what Bollie’s Mollies are, LOL.)
Be sure to pick up some wine and cheeses to go in their shop, like a bottle of the crisp (yet plush) blanc de noir, the unique and summery PinoTrio (made with pinot blanc, pinot noir, and pinot gris!), and the fennel pollen and pink peppercorn Laychee is brilliant. They also have some dips, soups, lasagna, and bake-at-home focaccia in their fridge, perfect if you’re staying in a home up there (or going to a house party).
I had one of my most memorable wine tasting experiences with Fathers + Daughters Cellars, which is something you’ll need to book at least a week ahead of time. Guy Pacurur and his wife, Sarah Schoeneman, are delightful hosts, and will take you to the top of the Ferrington Vineyard (one of the largest vineyards in Anderson Valley, at 160 acres), where they grow chardonnay, gewürztraminer, sauvignon blanc, and pinot noir (Williams-Selyem buys fruit from them). Sarah found the property for her father Kurt Schoeneman in 1996, and in 2012, Sarah and Guy started making their own wine under the Fathers + Daughters label (the same year their daughter Ella was born).
You will have an exhilarating ride up the mountain in their open-air Kawasaki Mule, with their adorable dog bounding along and leading the way. You’ll sit at a picnic table at the top, with a hawk’s eye view of the valley. They tend to book the tastings at 11:30am to avoid the heat of the day (and the winds that come up in the valley).
Sadly, I can’t drink red wine anymore (I get hideous migraines), so I couldn’t partake in trying their lauded pinot noir, but let me tell you, I wasn’t missing a thing as I kept sipping their refreshing pét-nat, Sarah’s Rustic Bubbles, a bottle-fermented chardonnay that was a delightful aperitivo-style wine while we snacked on a spread of olives, smoked salmon, and cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers; their crisp rosé of zinfandel (from Nelson Family Vineyards in Ukiah) was another summer refresher.
Their sauvignon blanc comes from their oldest vines (1969), which is part of winemaker Phillip Baxter’s white blend, The Dance, with old vine sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, and chardonnay. Their wines have a pleasing minerality (thanks to the five feet or so of sandy loam), and the fruit is practically dry-farmed due to the vineyard’s drainage—and it’s usually the first vineyard in the valley to ripen. Such a special place.
Sadly, I’m going to have to wait until their next harvest to hopefully score some of these limited-production and shockingly affordable bottles I enjoyed, but you can see what’s still in stock here. You book this highly personal and fun tasting with Guy and Sarah in the meantime (reach out via their site).
A little further north up Highway 128 is Philo, where you’ll find THE MADRONES, which looks like an Italian villa plunked down in Anderson Valley. There are guest quarters; a pizza place with the most dreamy patio called Wickson (which is temporarily closed while they ramp up a new chef); a dispensary (The Bohemian Chemist) styled like a vintage apothecary with their own sungrown flower, chic vape cartridges, and “giggle smokes” pre-rolls; a pair of tasting rooms (Long Meadow Ranch and Drew Family Cellars); and a gift shop. It’s a charming stop for whatever you’re looking for.
When I wrote a review of Sally Schmitt’s cookbook, Six California Kitchens, earlier this year, I learned more about the special slice of paradise that is THE APPLE FARM, where she lived with her husband Don and family—they held legendary cooking classes just next to the 110-year-old apple orchard.
Sally sadly left us earlier this year, just five days after her ninetieth birthday, but her children continue to cultivate the orchard (with over 80 varieties of apples and some pears) and run the farm stand stocked with fresh fruit, fresh cider on Tuesdays during apple season, hard cider, vinegars, jams, jellies, and chutneys (you can also swing by to buy a copy of the cookbook direct from the family!), and there are guest cottages you can stay in to savor a truly pastoral experience. (FYI, they rent the property for private events and small gatherings.)
This summer and fall, they’re hosting monthly dinners highlighting recipes from the cookbook (the dinners are sold out, but you can sign up for the waitlist). There were many family members and friends there to share fond memories of the remarkable Sally while we enjoyed some of her dishes (with bottles of Long Meadow Ranch wines) under the trees in the garden patio. Truly dreamy.
A little further up 128 is ROEDERER ESTATE, which produces some of my favorite domestic sparkling wine (since 1982), and certainly some of my favorite Champagne in France. They offer some timed tasting experiences on their tranquil patio (starting at $20, with some magnum and vintage pours and noshing options), and you can also book a tour of the cellar. Be sure to reserve ahead of time.
One of the most exquisite, charming, and unexpectedly delightful experiences awaits at THE BEWILDERED PIG in Navarro. If you’re driving to Mendocino, try to time your drive with a lunch in their captivating garden on Fridays and Saturdays (reserve ahead of time, and they have a large table for groups). For $75, you’re going to be taken on a four-course journey, highlighting the best produce, proteins, and products from local purveyors while you admire all the flowers and listen to gurgling fountains. Your blood pressure drops in the first ten minutes.
Have partner Daniel Townsend pop some Champagne (or a local wine, they proudly represent many here) as you pop a miso-deviled egg in your mouth. Wild, alder-smoked king salmon (first cured with herbs and lemon thyme) comes with a potato pavé, horseradish crème fraîche, smoked roe, and garlic scapes—it was like my dream brunch dish, full of everything I truly love.
Chef-partner Janelle Weaver is so creative and talented—just wait until you try her faux-mage vegan cheese course! Her faux-bert Camembert is aged six-eight weeks with chanterelles and an ash rind, and is pure genius. I haven’t tasted a vegan cheese that even comes close to hers.
She is quite the sorceress, which really shines brightly in their magic market (even if you don’t dine at the Pig, you have to swing by the market Fri-Sat!). Janelle makes a powerhouse spread with a variety of nuts that is wonderful slathered on toast, and you cannot leave without a bag of her medicinal mushroom cookies with local candy caps (lending their telltale maple flavor), reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, flax, and pecans—I wish someone sold them here in SF, they’re perfect. (Hey, Pastel!)
They have fantastic picnic provisions, like country pork and smoked duck pâté with prunes, hazelnuts, allspice, juniper, coriander, bay, garlic, and black pepper (I know, wow), plus salads, mac and cheese, and a few other items to go.
Janelle also makes some natural remedies and candles and beauty products, like a lavender hydrosol I love to spritz on my face before bed (like I said, she’s a sorceress!). This place is a treasure chest, don’t miss it. There are even a couple adorable cats lounging around. You won’t want to leave.
Check their calendar for seasonal dinners throughout the year, too. Janelle and Daniel have created such an idyllic hamlet here, a perfect place for a buyout and private events. Don’t keep it a secret.