Katina & Kyle Connaughton

After meeting and falling in love at a punk gig, Katina and Kyle Connaughton travelled the word and spent time working at high-end restaurants, most notably The Fat Duck where Kyle spent five years as head chef of the research and development kitchen. Today, the Connaughtons run Single Thread Farm, a three Michelin-starred Japanese-inspired dining room and inn in Healdsburg that celebrates vegetables grown at its nearby farm. It’s an essential stop on any Sonoma Valley itinerary, as are these addresses.

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Why We Love Living In Sonoma

There is so much to love about life in Sonoma Wine Country. We have of course the amazing wineries here as well as a really diverse agricultural community, and the restaurants and tasting rooms for both the visitors and the locals. It’s a pretty special place in the country where large and small wineries sprawl across the landscape amongst organic farmers specializing in vegetables, flowers, fruit orchards, olive trees, livestock, and poultry. And then there are the incredible dairies, cheesemakers, distillers, brewers, cider makers, butchers, and food artisans.

The Heroes Of Northern California Wine Country

We are really fortunate to live, farm, and cook in Northern California Wine Country and have amazing restaurants such as The French Laundry, and The Restaurant at Meadowood so close by. It’s an exciting and dynamic place to visit and dine and these two restaurants have been leading the cuisine for Wine Country for so many years with their constant innovation.  It’s such an incredibly diverse food scene from restaurants like these to very casual and rustic places for tacos, Mexican cuisine, and crab shacks out on the Sonoma Coast. Everyone plays a part in a beautiful ecosystem of food, farms, and wine. I’m really looking forward to the new restaurant project from former Bocuse d’Or Silver Medalist Phil Tessier who will be opening his new place in Yountville this year.

A Mexican Cantina With Tortillas Handmade To Order

Our family favorite that we keep going back to over and over again is El Molino Central, in the eastern part of the City of Sonoma. Incredible handmade-to-order tortillas, a menu that changes with the seasons, and the most incredible fish tacos you will find anywhere inside outside of Mexico. They have a passion for great ingredients and traditional Mexican cooking techniques, particularly from Oaxaca. Their menu is a beautiful expression of soulful Mexican cooking that you simply cannot find anywhere else and a reminder of the rich culinary traditions of the cuisine. 

Where We Hold Our Annual Staff Party

Our quick escape when SingleThread is closed usually happens at the Geyserville Gun Club, just a few doors down from the incredible Cal-Italian joint, Diavola, also from the same owner. GGC has amazing cocktails, small bites, one of the best [sushi] hand rolls you’ll ever have in your life, and some pretty killer ramen. We have our annual holiday party here every year and it’s a great place for a quiet cocktail or a big night out. 

A New Restaurant From A Local Three-Star Chef

One of our favorite new restaurants is over on the Napa side called Charter Oak. This was opened by a good friend and great chef Christopher Kostow, who also has the incredible three Michelin-starred, The Restaurant at Meadowood. Christopher and Head Chef David Guilloty are using local ingredients in a simple way to create a really unique and approachable Wine Country dining experience.

Where Sonoma Winemakers Eat, Drink And Play Bocce

Slightly closer to home, we love Campo Fina in our town of Healdsburg. It’s a beautiful Sonoma take on Italian cuisine by Ari Rosen with a great back patio that is a relaxing otherworld on a warm Wine Country evening. During the summer you’ll find a who’s-who of Sonoma winemakers back there deeply engaged in a bocce ball tournament over woodfired pizzas, pastas, and local vegetables. 

Sonoma Valley’s Most Relaxed Wine Tasting Experience

One of many wineries that we absolutely love holds a really special place for us – not only for the amazing wines but the incredible hospitality of Sherry, the owner. It’s a small winery called 32 Winds, right near us in Healdsburg and has an incredibly talented up-and-coming winemaker. The tasting room is nestled back off Dry Creek Road, through a narrow road in the wines and under a canopy of trees along one of the many creeks that feed into the Russian River. When you arrive, the welcome committee of friendly dogs rush to greet you and encourage you to follow them through the fig trees to meet Sherry at her oasis of a winery. It’s easy to have hours slip by as you enjoy her Rose from magnums, Chardonnay, and Pinots. It’s the most relaxed tasting experience in Sonoma and really embodies the Sonoma sense of hospitality and passion for wine. 

More Local Winery Recommendations

Similarly, and coincidentally, just up the street from 32 Winds is one of our most favorites winemakers – Reeve Winery. The team at Reeve has one of the most relaxed tasting rooms set back on a beautiful meandering property with some seriously delicious Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese (which we don’t see often in Sonoma). If you go to either or both of these two wineries don’t plan on doing too much else the rest of the day: you won’t feel much like leaving. We love to show off the amazing Sonoma winemakers to chefs and sommeliers when they are in town.  It’s really hard to choose just a few. We really enjoy taking our friends to Williams Seylem Winery, one of the premier winemakers of the county that has become word famous for their Russian River Pinot Noir. The architecture of the building is stunning with incredible views, and some of the best wines the region has to offer. 

A Living Legend: His Legacy And New Project

Another legacy property of Sonoma that has helped put the region on the map for world-class wines is Kistler. The Trenton Roadhouse is an incredible tasting room experience in the heart of Russian River to see a real expression of the terroir of the region. While Kistler is the legacy, [Kistler founder] Steve Kistler’s new project along with the help of his daughters goes a little further west towards the ocean and is called Occidental; named after the town near where they farm the grapes and make the wines. You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual – and a true living legend – more passionate about winemaking than Steve and his family.

Taste Some of The World’s Best Pinot

One of the best ways to see the coastal influence and terroir unique to Sonoma is to visit Hirsch Winery. Their vineyards are in the northwest corner of our county right up along the coast with tricky to reach access. Thankfully, Jasmine Hirsch has recently opened a tasting room in Healdsburg to taste some of the best Pinot in the county – and in our opinion, the world – without having to make the drive. 

Where To Drink Around Healdsburg Plaza Square

Dukes Spirited Cocktails is a great place on the Healdsburg Plaza Square that’s easy to happen by and has some seriously amazing cocktails and talented bartenders. The team there are the least pretentious mixologists and the atmosphere is always warm and inviting. A perfect place to go to get a break from all of the wine we drink in Sonoma. Another really chill tasting room is also right off the Plaza Square. The really unassuming winery is called Idlewild, and they make Piedmontese inspired wines from unique varietals that aren’t seen often in Northern California. It’s a great place to taste some really delicious wines as well as grab a plate of charcuterie and cheese.  

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