LA Confidential Magazine: San Francisco and the Russian River Valley

Here's a travel article I wrote for the September issue of LA Confidential Magazine (just in time for harvest!) all about the wine-tasting experiences you can have in two of my favorite places in California--one town, one country--San Francisco and the nearby Russian River Valley.

In it, I include some of my favorite wine bars and tasting rooms, plus a host of other helpful details like where to stay, where to play, and where to gorge yourself on fabulous wine country cuisine. Cheers!

Here's a new link to the article, which you can also find in its full form below:


By Eric Rosen

Harvest season is the perfect time to visit San Francisco and wine country’s Russian River Valley to indulge in all things grape.

San Francisco is the gateway to California’s most famous wine regions, but you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy great tasting experiences, as even the hotels have gotten in on the action. The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco ( is home to the Press Club (, a wine bar and lounge whose Visiting Vintners series rotates a selection of California wine, beer and sparkling wine. The InterContinental San Francisco’s ( Bar 888 houses an unrivaled collection of high-end grappas, while the superb city views from the Mandarin Oriental ( rooms are only outdone by the hotel’s specially created collaboration with Hirsch Vineyards, Ngima Cuvée Pinot Noir.

For an insightful and entertaining overview of the city’s wine scene, enlist the bespoke guided-tour services of Carried Away ( They’ll whisk you from cozy wine bars such as the Hayes Valley hole-in-the-wall Hôtel Biron ( to the saloonlike Fat Angel ( in lower Fillmore and SoMa’s boho-chic Terroir ( for its stellar cellar of natural wines.

Later, wander the historic Jackson Square area to sample private-label wines from the patented Cask Delivery System at Barrique ( before dining at one of the hottest tables in town at Cotogna (

One of Food & Wine’s seven Sommeliers of the Year, Rajat Parr of Mina Group (, will get your palate ready for the Russian River Valley through pairings like Freeman Ryo-fu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with deconstructed butter-poached lobster pot pie.

Just 90 minutes north of San Francisco, the Russian River Valley—which takes up one-sixth of Sonoma County and is known for the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs it produces—just might be California’s most exciting up-and-coming wine region. Both the trendy Hotel Healdsburg ( and its LEED Gold-certified younger sibling, H2Hotel (, sit near Healdsburg’s picturesque, boutique-filled town square. Upscale rusticators might prefer the luxe suites and Michelin-starred restaurant at Forestville’s Farmhouse (

Spend your morning hiking to a picnic spot high above the Alexander Valley at Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate (, hop aboard Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves( Swiss Army Pinzgauer vehicle for a tour in the hills above Dry Creek, or wander the ancient redwood groves at Simi ( Next, taste a cross section of Sonoma vinos while perusing Terroirs Artisan Wines( art gallery in Geyserville.

In the evening, stop for a cocktail at Medlock Ames( speakeasy-ish new tasting room before an Italian feast back in town at Scopa (, or a dinner of farm-fresh delicacies in BarnDiva’s ( patio.

Spend the next day relaxing by the new pool at Francis Ford Coppola Winery ( park’s Pools & Cabines (pronounced “ka-beens,” they’re European-style changing rooms) or take a cooking class at Relish ( And once you’ve caught the Russian River Valley bug, travel back up November 5–6 to catch the 13th Annual Wine & Food Affair ( weekend with 80 participating wineries in northern Sonoma County.