The tiny hamlet of Kenwood dates to the late 1800s when it was part of a Mexican land grant. The townspeople voted to name the location Kenwood in 1895 because its original name — Guilicos, the land grant designation — was too difficult to pronounce.
Located in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon, Kenwood boasts lush parklands, great food and wine, and places to kick back and relax. It’s only about an hour from San Francisco.
One of the more luxurious ways to enjoy wine country is to stay on winery property. My husband and I discovered one of these hidden treasures staying in the guest suite at Landmark Vineyards (707-833-0053, landmarkwine.com/). Located on the far side of the tasting room building, the suite offers sweeping views of Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf Ridge and an intimate view of the vineyards from the private patio. Inside, a vaulted ceiling, comfy king bed, glowing fireplace, and modern bathroom and amenities add to the wine country appeal. A complimentary bottle of wine is waiting as is healthful breakfast food in the mini refrigerator. Also included is a complimentary tasting in the tasting room.
Kenwood Inn and Spa (800-353-6966, www.kenwoodinn.com) is a luxe romantic getaway that combines European design with the artisanal flair of wine country. The friendly staff provides excellent service.
Surrounded by oak groves, walnut orchards, fruit trees, and vineyards, the property has the feel of a private villa. Through chiseled stone archways, discover courtyards, lush gardens, wrought-iron detailing, two heated pools, and a coi pond.
In the plush rooms and suites, cuddle up by the fireplace, relax in a deep-soaking bath, and melt on the featherbed. The furnishings are custom Italian as are the luxurious linens. In the morning, enjoy a full (included) breakfast. Choose from juices and bottomless bubbles, just-made pastries, cereals, fresh fruit and smoothies, local organic yogurt as well as farm-fresh eggs, house-smoked bacon, Italian sausage, and country potato hash.
SHOP & PLAY
Kenwood’s wineries are part of the Sonoma Valley AVA. The appellation is bordered by the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west.
The Normandy-inspired Ledson Winery (707-537-3810, ledsonwinery.com/), known as “The Castle” is set on 20,000 acres. The 16,000-square-foot building boasts turrets, balconies, coffered ceilings, cathedral windows, an expansive staircase, numerous tasting areas (from small and private to larger bars and terraces) and a marketplace for wine-inspired and gourmet products. Award-winning estate wines include the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and these 2012s: Dry Creek Valley Malbec and the Sonoma Valley Mes Trois Amours (40 percent Mourvedre, 30 percent Grenache, and 30 percent Syrah).
Discover beautiful grounds and an open, airy tasting room at Landmark Vineyards (707-833-0053, landmarkwine.com/). Find high ceilings, warm colors, and lots of glass for spectacular vistas of the vines and the Mayacamas Mountains. With grapes sourced from around California, including Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Monterey, they are especially known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Equally as enjoyable are the 2013 Estate Granache and the 2012 Kivelstadt Syrah.
St. Francis Winery (888-675-9463, stfranciswinery.com) is in a picturesque location at the north end of Kenwood surrounded by vineyards and mountains. The team has a keen focus on green practices and sustainability. Widely acclaimed for their food and wine pairings, reserve a seat at the communal table and relish five wines paired with five culinary delights. Favorites included a ham and cheese sandwich with speck, toasted brioche, fonduta and black truffle served with a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lagomarsino Vineyard, Russian River Valley. The mocha pot de crème with the 2013 Port, Sonoma County made for a delicious ending.
When it’s time to exercise (on foot or horseback), head to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (707-833-5712, parks.sonoma.net/sugarlf.html) with its more than 20 miles of trails to explore including a 2,729-foot climb to the summit of Bald Mountain. You can also visit Ferguson Observatory, one of the largest in the western United States.
For another outdoor experience, try Alder, Shaw, or Plaza Park (parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov) — all located not too far off Sonoma Highway. Next to Plaza Park is the historic Kenwood Depot (707-833-5190, kenwooddepot.com). From 1888 to 1934, it was the main railroad station in central Sonoma Valley
The Spa at Kenwood Inn (800-353-6966, kenwoodinn.com/spa_treatments.php). delivers on over-the-top pampering with its focus on vinotherapy and restoring the vitality of mind and body. With a variety of treatments and specialty products, a relaxing experience is just about guaranteed.
Casual, local, delicious — all describe a culinary experience at Café Citti (707-833-2690, cafecitti.com/). A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the restaurant has the look and feel of an authentic Italian trattoria. Choices abound — pasta, sauces, salads — and all with loads of garlic! We started with a flavorful minestrone then chose linguini with a rich pesto with pine nuts sprinkled on top. We also shared half of a rotisserie chicken stuffed with garlic, rosemary, and sage. Pair with a glass of house Italian wine or a Russian River Brewery beer on tap for a satisfying meal. A creamy chocolate mousse is a good dessert choice.
The Restaurant at Kenwood Inn and Spa (707-938-2130, kenwoodinn.com/dining.php) is exclusively for guests where they get to enjoy the Italian cuisine, country decor, and casual ambience. Sit on the patio, by the fireplace, or inside with its bird’s-eye view of the kitchen. Products from local purveyors and from the inn’s gardens and groves dominate the menu. Crispy bruschetta has a lively combination of fire-roasted red peppers, artichoke, basil, and arugula. Baby beets are served warm in a salad with ricotta, green apple, and a Prosecco vinaigrette. A poached farm-fresh egg yolk sits atop the risotto al carbonara alongside English peas, mushrooms and prosciutto. There are lots of interesting choices on the international wine list. After luscious coffee gelato, it’s an easy stroll back to your room.
Kenwood Tourism: sonomacounty.com/cities/kenwood
Sonoma County Vintners: sonomawine.com