Sox de Vine is a relative newcomer to Sonoma but has already gained a loyal following, and deservedly so. Who knew that socks could be so much fun?
You'll find all kinds of bright and whimsical "treats for your feet" here: tiny baby socks that look like shoes, children's socks decorated with pirates, dinosaurs or giraffes; knee socks with multicolored stripes, stars, cats, and dogs; tights, leggings, and socks with toes. They also have sturdy socks for hikers and runners, and specialty socks for diabetics.
Buy a few pairs as gifts, and don't forget to treat yourself.
(Sox de Vine was formerly called Sox Appeal but had to change its name because "Sox Appeal" was already copyrighted.)
This is a great place to buy beer and wine. It is on of the best places in Sonoma County to buy beer, in particular (unless you can get to the far bigger and better Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa). It also has some beers on tap, including ones not easy to find on tap.
What to buy: Beer and wine.
What to pay: It's a little bit more expensive than some places, at least for beer.
Oakville Grocery is not in Sonoma but they do have two locations. One is near Napa in Oakville and the other is in the northern area of Sonoma County in Healdsburg. So, if you are in these areas and are looking for picnic food then look for the Oakville Grocery.
We went to the Healdsburg store in the historic Town Square. The store will amaze you with the varieties of products. Just the meat section, alone, had my mouth watering. It can get crowded, as they have a restaurant of sorts with many items on the menu. There is a dining patio outside if you aren't going to a winery to have a picnic. The view from the patio is of the streets around the town square, which has a lot of greenery.
What to buy: Okay, head for the northern end of Sonoma County about 44 miles away on Hwy 101 and go to Healdsburg Square. Find the Oakville Grocery and go crazy. I did. Oh my, I may have over done the purchasing of salamis and cold cuts with tons of olives and cheeses. Even the bread looked so good I purchased 2 loaves. Store hours are 8am-6pm daily. The 10 minute drive to Lambert Bridge Winery to have our picnic seemed like an eternity with all that food sitting on the car seat filling the air with mouth watering aromas.
What to pay: Way to much, but worth it.
This is definitely a place to check out! Quite a few wine tasting rooms, too! Art galleries, home stores, specialty shops, cafes and restaurants. It is worth spending the time to walk around. There is something to see for everyone.
When my daughter was too small to know the word "hungry," she'd let us know that it was time to eat by piping, "Somet'ing to eeeeeeat!"
If you're in Sonoma and are in need of somet'ing to reeeeeead, Readers' Books is the place to go. You'll find everything you need to while away the long vacation hours on the plane or at poolside.
No one will hurry you here. Owner Andy Weinberger and staff are happy to help you, but they also understand that literary decisions are important and require some thought. At one time there was even a rocking chair tucked away in the travel stacks.
The store holds regular book signings and lectures (check their website for the latest schedule). Their motto is "A gathering place for booklovers of all ages."
On one of my trips to New Orleans, I was leafing through an issue of Travel & Leisure magazine at my B&B and was astonished when it fell open to an article that mentioned Readers' Books.
Readers' is pictured in a street scene in a children's book, Bink & Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile.
What to buy: All kinds of new and used books. They have excellent children's and travel book sections. Gift certificates are available.
Andy said that as a result of the Travel & Leisure article, a woman from another state phoned to order a gift certificate as a surprise for her daughter and son-in-law, who planned to vacation in Sonoma.
Visitors may think that it's odd to find cake baking and candy making supplies paired with swimming pool supplies, but to Sonomans, it's a perfectly normal arrangement. Ask anyone in town where you can find a mold for a sugar Easter egg, and you'll be told, "Try Pool Mart!"
Co-owner Lillian Brunton learned the pool business from her father and is also a professional cake baker, so she combines the two interests. She and her husband, Ray, operate Cake Corner and Pool Mart in the same building, and Lillian often gives classes in cake decorating and candy making.
Bakers and confectioners will enjoy browsing through the different shaped cake pans and candy molds at the Cake Corner. Call the shop for the class schedule.
This is the place to find that right cheese to go with a loaf of bread and the bottle of wine you purchase at your favorite winery to enjoy at one of the many picnic areas throughout the Sonoma Valley. Why, right across the street at the Plaza park are many tables to sit and enjoy your cheese selections. Most people in the USA have seen the Sonoma Jack cheese label at their local delis, but now they make the cheese under their store name at the factory since the sale of their label.
The old company label was purchased by the Monterey Gourmet Foods out of Salinas, California. A partial clip from their promotional letter follows: "Sonoma Cheese was founded on November 16, 1931 by Celso Viviani, the grandfather of the current Chief Operating Officer of the company, C. David Viviani. Creator of the original Sonoma Jack Cheese and known for maintaining the highest standards of cheese making traditions, the company had been owned by three generations of the Viviani family until its sale to Monterey Gourmet Foods in April, 2005.">.
What to buy: Cheese, please. This is what the factory is all about, but they also offer made to order sandwiches and snacks to run off to a nearby winery to enjoy with the wine.
What to pay: $5-$10 or more, depending on how hungry you are.
This could be also a restaurant tip :)
Here you can find cheese of course! We tried several free samples of cheese, some of them were very tasty, we liked the spicy ones a lot. They also sell many candys, especially those with chocolate are very tasty. I saw many people that bought several of them but we just tried one two of them.
Then we went at the back yard (pic 2) where they have a Barbeque and you can have some BBQ pork Ribs ($10) or tasty hamburgers ($9.80 with great cheese, you can choose between several ones like cheddar, swiss, blue etc)
The thing I like best about The Church Mouse is that even though its inventory is secondhand, it is a clean and well-organized shop and won't make you feel itchy when you walk in. They sell clothing, jewelry, toys, linens, housewares, luggage, books, and videos -- just about anything you can imagine.
Finding something you like is the luck of the draw. Sometimes I find nothing, but at other times I've found treasures like a designer suit with the tag still on, for $25, a black velveteen blazer (still one of my favorites) for $9, and a convertible duffel bag/purse for $7. Local kids know that this is a great resource for inexpensive costumes; the shop carries a nice selection of Mardi Gras beads, masks, and feather boas.
The shop benefits St. Francis Solano School. There are two other Church Mouse branches in Boyes Hot Springs, one at the corner of Highway 12 and Boyes Boulevard, and one near the sheriff's substation on Highway 12, that also carry carpets and furniture.
If you're craving award-winning local cheese but don't feel like fighting the tourist hordes at the Sonoma Cheese Factory, visit the Vella Cheese Factory, only a couple of blocks away. It's a small, family-run shop where you'll get personal attention.
The last time I was there, the girl behind the counter asked me tactfully if I'd meant to choose a specialty cheese that sold for $15 a pound (aaaack.... nooooo!). She steered me towards an almost identical cheese for half that price. The total bill for two good-sized blocks of cheese was just under $8 -- so low that at first I thought it was a mistake! Very fair prices here, for quality cheese.
Please note that they are closed on Sundays.
Sidebar: For a bit of local color, take a drive (or a long walk) and see the little bridge named in honor of the store's owner, Ignazio Vella. Ig's Bridge, built in 2006, is just past the stoplight at the intersection of West Napa Street and Highway 12. It's wide and well-lit, a boon to bicyclists and pedestrians. 2006 was a good year for Ig -- that year he was also presented with a lifetime achievement award from the American Cheese Society.
What to buy: I like their dry jack, their garlic jack, and their mezzo seco jack. Just give me a box of crackers, some fresh fruit, and a block of Vella cheese, and I'm a happy camper.
The Sonoma Cheese Factory sells all kinds of cheeses, but people come here mostly to buy wedges of the Factory's famous product, a soft, mild, yellow cheese called Sonoma Jack. Spiced-up versions of Sonoma Jack, e.g. pesto, jalapeño pepper, garlic, portobello mushroom, are also sold. Sample cubes are available so that you can taste and decide.
You can order takeout sandwiches (be prepared for LONG lines at lunchtime), and there is now a whole section devoted to pre-packaged food for picnics: cheese, bread, wine, apples, salami, and cookies. You can even buy a picnic basket.
The Sonoma Cheese Factory also includes a large wine-related retail store, a sit-down café, and a gelato counter.
What to buy: Besides the cheese, some of the special items sold here are jars of seasoning used in the town's annual Ox Roast, personalized paper coasters, wine country magnets, and California pistachios.
Tiddle E. Winks describes itself as "a vintage 5 & dime." It's a nostalgic shop selling toys, games, pennants, and advertising signs that many of us remember from childhood. Some are real antiques; others are reproductions. I bought a sign for my husband that reads, "Superhero on Duty - Incredible Feats - Daring Exploits in the Service of Others."
The store has a large selection of old-fashioned sweets like Chuckles, Mary Janes, Dots, Nickel Nips, and bubblegum cigars. I was excited to find Sky Bars here -- I used to love them as a child. They're chocolate bars that are divided into sections, and each section has a different filling.
If you need a gift for someone with a sweet tooth, Tiddle E. Winks will put together a basket for you. They also do party favor bags (their choice of sweets).
this is the main strip mall of sonoma town and off course most of the stalls here sell WINE! lots and lots of it plus clothes, some antique stuffs and food.
What to buy: WINE WINE WINE!
What to pay: not much for the wine. a good red wine will cost you $ 20. Souvenir antique clothes and hats at $ 20.
Looking for that special something to bring home to Bucky the Chesapeake retriever and Reilly the Welsh spaniel? Buy them a bag of dog cookies from Three Dog Bakery, and they'll love you for it.
This franchise is a bakery and shop that caters to dogs. The treats are beautiful and look just like people-cookies but are made with ingredients that are safe for dogs (carob is used instead of chocolate). The shop also sells fancy leashes, doggie sweaters, and other accessories.
Please note that photographing the baked goods is not allowed. The Three Dog Corporation, which licenses this and other Three Dog Bakeries, has spent 17 years building and refining recipes and is quite protective of them. It's a rule that doesn't make much sense to me, since a good chef could just as easily buy a bag of treats, take them home, and analyse them. But it's their football and their game, and franchisees are required to adhere to the policy.
Baksheesh sells unusual hand-crafted gifts made in developing countries, reasonably priced. The store is committed to paying a fair wage to the artisans it buys from.
It's fun to wander through the different sections of the shop, and you can find presents for everyone on your list without breaking your budget.
What to buy: On a recent visit to the shop, I saw colorful dragon kites, ceramic bead necklaces, earrings shaped like miniature abacuses/abaci (well, okay, so I bought them), woven scarves, nesting baskets, a pretty satin pouch filled with green tea, international children's books, and a wooden Noah's ark.