It’s Autumn and the grapes are now being harvested in the beautiful wine valleys of California’s Napa and Sonoma regions! That alone is worth a trip, but this season also brings out the music in the charming wine towns and vineyards, with festivals and open-air concerts everywhere!
And even if you are not into wine, the Napa & Sonoma Valleys are beautiful and there is much to see and do, like biking or hiking through the vineyards and woods, endless starry night skies, and a lot of great cuisine!
Here are our insider tips for dining plant-based when traveling the Northern California wine country, based on our own recent explorations. This list is in no way comprehensive, as there are many more places that will accommodate your dietary needs, but we hope that this will give you a good starting point!
If you are heading into the Napa Valley, try these great plant-based finds:
Farmer’s Market on Saturdays April – September: look for wonderful local organic snacks and foods, like the vegan empanadas, Mexican foods and sandwiches, washed down with matcha cold brew or turmeric latte with macadamia milk!
Trader Joe’s for wine tasting provisions! When out for tastings we usually get the munchies, so we pack up the following: hummus and vegan kale pesto, flatbreads and crackers, bags of organic carrots and broccoli. These go far to keep your tummy happy during a day tasting wine.
Gran Electrica: great Mexican food and we recommend the veganized versions of the tostadas, tacos, mushrooms (hongos) and a side of guacamole. It’s very satisfying and enough to share!
Zuzu’s: super popular and often crowded, it’s a great place for a stop at the bar and a bunch of tasty tapas, like the veggies in romesco sauce and the olives platter!
Morimoto: Japanese dining in style and one of the only restaurants here to serve food after 9 pm! Try a combination of maki rolls like the shiso maki or sweet gourd maki, and some of the vegetable side dishes, paired with sencha green tea or sake..
Oakville Grocery is a gourmet grocery store & tasting room with large patio in the wine country. It’s not super vegan friendly but fun to visit and you can get a kale salad and request a custom veggie wrap that will be very tasty!
V Sattui Winery & Deli: this super popular place has a gourmet deli where you can get picnic foods to enjoy with their wines on the sprawling lawn and picnic area! Try the Thai noodle salad and kale salad.
Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen: try their delightful “momos”, which are vegan dumplings with a tasty dipping sauce! They also have samosas, lentil soup and vegan-friendly curries
Calistoga Thai Kitchen: great avocado rolls and good green curry and pad thai
Napa Valley Brewing Company: excellent vegan risotto and pizza with vegan cheese while being seated on the lovely patio or by the fireplace!
Auberge du Soleil is a must for an elegant patio dinner or cocktails with a fabulous view from one of the highest locations in the valley! In this upscale resort, your vegan palate will be happy, and when you are just coming in for a cocktail on the patio, order the hummus platter and the mushrooms side dish – delightful!
In the Sonoma Valley:
Our favorite place for lunch in the entire wine region is the patio of VJB Vineyards, which comes with a gorgeous Italian patio, gourmet deli, pizza bakers, and… tenors who will serenade you with Italian classics as of 1 pm every day! Take your time here to enjoy a vegan pizza, antipasti misto, dips, crackers and a bottle or glass of your favorite libation. La dolce vita!
On your way back to the Oakland or San Francisco airport, we recommend ending your wine country trip at Domaine Carneros, which makes a fabulous last impression with great views from their large beautiful patio and excellent sparkling wines and pinot noirs! Order their Vegan Tasting Platter, which has 2 vegan cheeses, nuts, fruits and crackers!
Travel Journal by Ina Mohan
Founder & President of Health, Healing & Happiness LLC