Late fall is beautiful in the Wine Country: Vineyards are their characteristic shades of red, burgundy, yellow, and gold; long shadows from the low angle of the sun show up early, and recent rains have added green to the palette while cool breezes scatter the same colorful leaves throughout the landscape.
Being the conscious, caring, community-minded San Franciscans you are, I know you have a Wine Country visit and holiday shopping on your list, so here are a few ideas. Wine also makes a wonderful gift, and some wineries are donating a portion of wine sales to the fire relief efforts, so you can’t go wrong.
Remember, shopping pairs particularly well with sipping, so make your first stop the tasting bar.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Shopping sip: Pina Asolo Prosecco
This tasting room is one of my favorites because it’s a twofer: To the right of the foyer is a room devoted almost exclusively to herb- and fruit-infused olive oils and vinegars from The Olive Press, in myriad flavors packaged in beautiful bottles and gift sets, and all available for tasting (don’t miss the Clementine orange olive oil). You’ll also find candles, bath/spa, and pantry products (olives, tapenades, nuts, and chocolates), olive wood serve ware, and Vietri handcrafted stoneware. The left side of the foyer stocks picnic items, seasonal decorations, U.S.-made pottery, Italian-themed serve ware, and more (24724 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-931-7575, jacuzziwines.com, daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.).
B.R. Cohn Winery
Shopping sip: 2016 Carneros Sangicomo Vineyard Chardonnay
You know you’ve hit a great tasting room gift shop when it’s housed in a separate building. Here you’ll find B.R. Cohn’s line of olive oils and vinegars (the pear Chardonnay vinegar is a recent gold medal winner). Assorted gift packages are available (some in gorgeous etched bottles), pantry items, and bath/spa items in addition to wine country-themed products. My favorite finds have been modern white porcelain pomegranate vases, and a set of six vintage-style glasses in a wire holder that does double duty as a great vase (15000 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, 800-330-4064, brcohn.com, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Benziger Family Winery
Shopping sip: 2014 Oonapais Estate Red
Another favorite, this tasting room-gift shop is located down a curving path in a building called The Barn and nestled amidst a beautiful, historic property. You’ll find jewelry from Lake Tahoe artist Julia Szendrei, Spicer cork and canvas bags from San Francisco, lazy Susans made from wine barrel lids, candle holders from wine barrel stays, and a special section for your favorite canine (1883 Jack London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, 888-490-2739, benziger.com, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Kunde Family Winery
Shopping sip: 2015 Sonoma Valley “Red Dirt Red”
This moodily lit tasting room-gift area is a find. There’s a great selection of trendy wrap bracelets, including fair-trade Nepalese hand-crocheted bead roll-on bracelets, which benefit women in need; attractive Bloom and Give cotton scarves with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting girls’ education programs; and a beautiful display of tabletop items, including richly embroidered table runners, hand-forged aluminum-copper trimmed wine saucers, and clever dinner napkins with pockets to insert your utensils (9825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5501, daily 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Chateau St. Jean
Shopping sip: 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Another longtime favorite, although when I visited several weeks ago, they had just reopened after the fires, and sadly, had finished shipping away 100 crates of smoke-damaged merchandise. New merchandise had just started to arrive: Olive & Poppy wine barrel bracelets, Shupaca alpaca throws, and other wine-themed items. I have no qualms recommending it with full confidence the new stock will be just as good if not better than the previous (8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-257-5784, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.).