Emma K. Morris/Courtesy of Valley Bar + Bottle Shop
Valley Bar + Bottle Shop sits on Sonoma's historic town square and offers a selection of natural wine.

Wine Country is back! Though COVID-safety protocols are still in place, many exciting new restaurants and hotels are opening.

Kristin Scharkey  – August 13, 2021

A sushi kitchen with a “sea to chopstick” mantra. An acclaimed restaurant duo teaming up for a plant-based eatery. Bottles and bottles of natural wine. These are just a few of the reasons to get excited about the latest hot spots slated to open—or already serving patrons—in California wine country.

We’re all about the right-sized egalitarian vibes at Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, which reopened in downtown Calistoga this summer following a major transformation by design firms SB Architects and EDG Design. A new restaurant by chef Trevor Logan, House of Better, offers a healthier take on Southwest fare. The menu features dishes like herbed creamy hemp hearts, and red and green chile nachos. Meanwhile, the mid-mod redesign of the resort founded in 1952 sweeps through the spa, 50 renovated guest rooms, and trio of geothermal mineral pools. Wine country doesn’t have to be superluxe to be cool.

Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs reopened in downtown Calistoga this summer after a property-wide renovation.

Katie Newborn/Courtesy of Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs

Head to Sonoma’s town square to nab dinner or weekend brunch at the cozy Valley Bar + Bottle Shop—think olive oil cake with sour cream and preserves, and fried chicken with cucumber and coconut-peanut curry. Or, you can simply drop in to pick up a bottle of wine. The team focuses on producers that are farming with “organic, biodynamic, regenerative, and traditional agricultural practices,” as they write on their website.

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Two restaurants on the horizon are already generating buzz. Slated for a summer opening, The Matheson is a sushi lounge meets farm-to-table restaurant meets rooftop cocktail bar in Healdsburg from the chef behind nearby hot spot Valette. Head up to the mezzanine to view a reserve wine locker and art by photographer Andy Katz. Expect “regional flavors,” “adventurous cocktails” and a “Mugnaini wood-fired oven,” according to the website.

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The Matheson’s charred octopus

Michael Woolsey/Courtesy of The Matheson

And a 100% plant-based eatery from the duo behind the renowned SingleThread restaurant is slated to swing open its Healdsburg doors in late November. Little Saint is even home to its own farm, where the team will source some of its produce. The restaurant’s Instagram offers a sneak peek into the opening: Pastry chef Baruch Ellsworth, for example, is currently creating the “ultimate vegan puff pastry recipe, which will appear in breakfast offerings at the coffee counter, savory tarts from the cafe, and desserts on the restaurant menu.”


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