Sonoma County is a substantial component of Northern California’s “Wine Country,” spanning over 8,500 square miles and five counties. The county itself is home to over 400 wineries, approximately one per 1,163 residents. Oenophiles flock to Sonoma’s El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen to experience something genuinely unique: an award-winning culinary crusade inside an architectural marvel. And fine Californian wine plays an integral role in the bon vivant escapade. However, the region’s budding craft beer scene continues to turn heads, especially those who appreciate West Coast-style brewing techniques and recipes. Many travelers are surprised to discover that the El Dorado Hotel is within 40 minutes of over two dozen Sonoma County breweries, four of which are unquestionably worth exploring this winter.
Sonoma County Breweries: From Riverside Drive to Santa Rosa
Most Sonoma County breweries lie inside two bustling communities: Santa Rosa and Petaluma. That being said, a bevy of hidden gems dot the rolling, semi-arid landscape. In fact, El Dorado Hotel is only one mile away from a Northern California staple: Sonoma Springs Brewing. With so many taprooms in the area, bookmarking this article will prove to be useful.
1. Sonoma Springs Brewing Co.
Oftentimes, convenience matters most. Sonoma Springs Brewing happens to be the only craft brewery near the Sonoma Plaza. The ales and lagers don’t quite stack up (flavorwise) against some of the area’s goliaths, such as Bear Republic or Russian River. Still, there’s something to be said about Sonoma Springs’ cozy, well-lit taproom and always-improving branding.
2. Russian River Brewing Company
Russian River remains one of the top-reviewed breweries in California on Untappd, the most reliable beer-focused app on the market. With two locations (Santa Rosa and Windsor), craft ale hounds enjoy swift access to Russian River’s world-famous double IPA, Pliny the Elder, and a plethora of “wild” ales, such as the spellbinding Supplication, a brown ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels.
3. Lagunitas Brewing Company
Sadly, Chicago-based Lagunitas Brewing is now owned by Heineken. Thus, Lagunitas is no longer one of the five top-selling craft beer brands in the world. That being said, “hopheads” won’t soon forget the classics: A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Lagunitas Sucks, and Hop Stoopid. The Petaluma-based taproom feels less like a multi-million-dollar establishment and more like a sleepy pub. But it’s impossible to deny the allure of the massive covered patio, especially when extreme highs or lows roll through the valley. Unlike most Sonoma County breweries, Lagunitas is an ultra-popular pit stop, even for wine aficionados.
4. HenHouse Brewing Company’s Palace of Barrels
HenHouse’s Palace of Barrels (not to be confused with the Santa Rosa tasting room) ranks among the most alluring spots in Sonoma County to enjoy a well-balanced flight. The self-described “industrial-cool” facility is reminiscent of a hip BBQ joint; although, perhaps, that’s the subliminal fowl branding. HenHouse is known for its innovative IPAs, such as the Idaho 7 Frozen Envelope and the El Dorado Inside Job. Yes, that’s right—El Dorado is a fruity, bitter, aromatic hop that originates in Washington.
Honorable mentions: Bear Republic, Grav South Brew Co, Parliament Brewing Company, and Shady Oak Barrel House.
El Dorado, a Premier Hotel in Sonoma County
After sipping on an El Dorado-forward IPA at a nearby taproom, retreat to El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen for a memorable evening in the heart of downtown Sonoma. This chic, dazzling hotel is one of only three lodging options located on the Sonoma Plaza, which acts as a gateway to downtown’s vibrant nightlife.
The Kitchen, known as the “best table in town,” is a culinary experience unlike any other, thanks to Chef de Cuisine Armando Navarro. Navarro crafts conceptual entrees and wine pairings, all of which feature locally-sourced ingredients with an ode to the region’s medal-winning vineyards. Start each meal with fresh-caught oysters or steamed white wine mussels before indulging in pan-roasted salmon topped with bacon lardons or the shrimp and butternut squash risotto. Meanwhile, each guest room feels like a day at the spa, with the pearly aesthetic, harmonious furnishings, and open-air terraces. For a limited time only, book direct and earn 25 percent off.