Farm to Table: Taking Local to a Whole New Level in California Wine Country

Farm-fresh ingredients at the Applewood Inn vegetable garden and chicken coop (Photo credit: Applewood Inn)
Farm-fresh ingredients at the Applewood Inn vegetable garden and chicken coop (Photo credit: Applewood Inn)

by Karla Erovick

California Wine Country restaurants are passionate about their food. It’s not surprising, given their access to some of the most sought-after agriculture in the country. Restaurant menus have begun listing the local farms that supply their ingredients, often located within a few miles of the restaurant, while chefs work with their growers to place orders for crops before planting to ensure quality produce. With a passion to provide the freshest ingredients, Napa and Sonoma restaurants are taking local to a whole new level.

It’s not surprising that many restaurants have begun to plant kitchen gardens to supply herbs and other vegetables as needed. Some even make their own wine, honey and eggs, while still others cultivate livestock. In each case, it is their passion for the food that has driven them in their quest to provide the highest quality meals. At Left Coast Restaurants in Calistoga, they grow their own tomatoes served at Barolo, Checkers and Brannan’s, and yes, you can taste the difference.

Pigs at Zazu Farm feed on tasty grapes (Photo credit: Zazu Farm)
Pigs at Zazu Farm feed on tasty grapes (Photo credit: Zazu Farm)

Zazu Kitchen + Farm, located in Sebastopol, has a fascination with pork. A few years ago, the team got curious about raising pigs, so they brought in some “pig investors” to help supply the farm with living pork, and they’ve never looked back. Today, the farm provides much of the protein served in their restaurant, including pork, chicken and eggs. It is their curiosity that continues to drive Zazu to expand their offerings and play a larger part in producing many of the ingredients, including house-cured salumi.

Vineyards Inn, located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, looks unassuming but their food will definitely make an impression. Chef-owner Steve Rose has a nearby farm where he produces grapes and vegetables to incorporate into his Spanish tapas menu, complete with wine on tap from his own winery. Using fresh ingredients from his garden supplemented with locally sourced products whenever necessary, Rose is committed to the Wine Country region, from the soil up.

The Restaurant at Madrona Manor, located in a Victorian mansion perched on the hillside above Healdsburg, offers guests the opportunity for an elegant dining experience. The eight-acre estate includes overnight accommodations, beautiful grounds and an organic kitchen garden to supply the farm-to-table ingredients used in their award-winning restaurant. Guests can wander around the garden to see what’s in season and what might be appearing on their plate for dinner. In addition to the fruit and citrus trees, Madrona Manor grows herbs, tomatoes, greens and vegetables, which are all transformed into delicious meals by chef Jesse Mallgren.

From wine to livestock, chefs in California's Wine Country are thinking locally (Photo credit: Zazu Farm)
From wine to livestock, chefs in California’s Wine Country are thinking locally (Photo credit: Zazu Farm)

You might not expect the lovely Applewood Inn Restaurant to produce the honey, eggs, herbs, fruits and vegetables that are served on their menu, and you certainly wouldn’t expect that the solar panels allow them to generate their own electricity. That the six-acre inn accommodates lodging and a spa in addition to its restaurant and gardens seems almost an added bonus. Offering fresh, local and seasonal ingredients sourced primarily from the Russian River Valley, Applewood Inn is able to curate a meal that is as locally focused as it is expansive in scope.

Oenotri, located in Napa, operates their own garden to control the quality of ingredients for their Italian cuisine. They handcraft their own olive oil and salumi and make their pasta fresh daily; anything not made on site is sourced from local purveyors. Oenotri artfully craft their menus with dishes inspired by culinary traditions found across Italy, but with a focus on the freshest ingredients, many grown just feet away.

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, located in St. Helena in the Mayacamas Mountains above the Napa Valley, operates a 650-acre farm that produces wine, olive oil, grass-fed beef, eggs and heirloom fruits and vegetables. The restaurant is situated in a former nursery barn and comes complete with an open kitchen, large dining room, bar and outdoor seating, giving it a spacious and comfortable vibe, while the menu features fresh, sustainably produced cuisine. Even their wine selection is culled from local wineries — including their own.

Related Content:
Napa/Sonoma Restaurant Reviews
Napa Valley Travel Guide
Visit Napa Valley
Napa County Farm Bureau

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