Located in Dry Valley California, aka the heart of Sonoma County, Ferrari Carano Winery has been producing delightful wines since 1981. The owners Donald and Rhonda Carano named the wines after Don's grandmother, Amelia Ferrari. (The Caranos are both second-generation Italian-Americans from Reno, Nevada, where they own the Eldorado Hotel/Casino.) With Donald's passing, Rhonda is currently one of the most powerful women in the industry -- Ferrari Carano produces 250,000 bottles a year -- and each of their beautiful wines speaks to the quality of their product, as well as Rhonda's insightful leadership.
In addition to the wines, which you can readily find at most groceries throughout the United States, Ferrari Carano also owns Vintners Inn, a bucolic luxury hotel property in nearby Santa Rosa, a pain-free 25 minute commute from the winery.
For two decades, Vintners Inn has been popular for its prime event space, where notable charities like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society host their annual event, as well as for its spa; however, it was the addition of 34 beautiful, brand-new vineyard-facing suites which has elevated the property. In 2018, $17 million dollars was spent adding these expansive suites, as well as renovating their Spa, Vi La Vita. Enormous (and enormously comfortable) California King beds anchor the suite rooms with very nice amenities such as 55-inch flat screen televisions, electric fireplaces, a comfortable balcony as well as a shower built for six!
The spa Vi La Vita is particularly well done. The money spent on renovation can be clearly seen in the dark wooded space, with a heated indoor pool and an outdoor pool space. The steam room is new as well, with lavender infusions. Furthermore, Vi La Vita's services are wonderfully executed using products from neighbor Matanzas Creek's lavendar fields, and my sole compliant is I wished my massage would go on another 60 minutes. Prices are extremely affordable as well. Menu here.
Vintners Inn is also home to the best restaurant in Santa Rosa,John Ash & Co. Notable for a strong variety of potently flavorful dishes, Executive Chef Thomas Schmidt commands diner's attention with simple ingredients whose elegance is then masterfully garnished with subtle flavors to enhance the underlying root vegetable, fruit or meat. For instance, our amuse bouche of strawberries has a simple glaze which added moving hints of flavor while, at the same time, letting the natural essence of the living strawberry come through. Gorgeous.
I also really loved the tartare ... and, as anyone who knows my palate, I don't like tartares. Again, the theme of simple elegance allowed every underlying ingredient to be tasted while being combined harmoniously.
Should you be so fortunate, you should also ask to dine in the Vintners Inn's Rhonda's Gardens. We had a private dinner and the entire meal comprised the best food I've ever eaten in Sonoma. I still dream of those hydroponic tomatoes but particularly the dessert of Salted Honey Pie. You can read my full review of this dinner on my blog here.
Truly, if you have an opportunity to travel to anywhere in California this year, you should definitely try the entire Ferrari Carano experience of (1) winery, (2) Vintners Inn and (3) dinner at John Ash & Co.! I know I will definitely be going back for harvest this August and can't wait to share this experience with you as well. Until then, be sure to buy some Ferrari Carano. These two photographed below are my favorites!