Picnicking Along the Wine Road

Winery explorations are enhanced by alfresco snacking; find spots where you can lunch outdoors.

BEYOND THE POSH DINNER: There likely isn't a wine lover around who truly believes that a chardonnay or shiraz can only be enjoyed when one is wearing a tuxedo or gown or while seated at a small table in a pricey restaurant among other glittering guests. That may have been wine's rep a half century ago, when foodie magazines were first on the rise, but those foodie magazines, and a large swath of their readers, have firmly changed their tunes. Wine is, in fact, just fine to be consumed alongside a hamburger, at the neighborhood barbecue, and sipping a pinot grigio while sitting on a picnic bench is a-ok, if that's what you'd like to do. Wineries have responded in kind to these positive changes over the last several years, which means many a tasting room is outfitted with picnic-packing possibilities. Those picnics might be purchased and later enjoyed along the winery-dotted road, and day-trippers often have the possibility of dining on a patio or loggia overlooking the on-site vineyard. Does this notion tempt? A glass of wine, at a picnic table, with a bit of pasta salad or a caprese sandwich or a mousse alongside? Then go snacking 'n sipping along the Wine Road in Sonoma County and stop at... 

DUTTON ESTATE WINERY: The Sebastopol property boasts "a rotating menu of picnic baskets, which are available for pre-order." But where to eat it? There's a garden made for meals, conversation, and general "we're-at-a-winery"-style enjoyment.

WILSON WINERY: Cured salmon with cream cheese just sounds like the perfecto accompaniment to a glass of something chilled, but there are other picnic picks to be had this Dry Creek Road staple. Does salumi with mustard savored under a live oak sound tempting? (Correct answer: yes.)

TWOMEY CELLARS: The "Chef's Boards" at this Healdsburg classic come stocked with meats, cheeses, and other tidbits that partner well with the winery's award-garnering vinos. If you know ahead of time that this is what you want for lunch, you can definitely pre-order, though there's a "first-come" option in the tasting room, too.

Happy picnicking, Sonoma-seeking adventurers.

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