Chocolateering in Wine Country
We did a wine country day trip in July 2019 without visiting a single winery. Our aim instead was to visit all the chocolatiers and chocolate shops in Sonoma and Napa counties. Good news/bad news: There are too many to visit in one day, so we missed a few.
But we did manage to cover Sonoma County this time, and found lots to recommend if you’d like to do a similar DIY chocolate tour. We’ve visited most of Napa Valley’s chocolatiers at one time or another, so we have recommendations there too.
Chocolateering in wine country is like orienteering: Navigating through diverse, unfamiliar terrain. But it’s better than orienteering because it includes chocolate rewards throughout the game.
The Sonoma Chocolate Trail:
- Route 101 N to Petaluma and beyond
- Route 12 W to Sebastopol
- Route 12 E to Glen Ellen and Sonoma
The Napa Valley Trail is simpler:
- Route 29 N from Napa through Yountville to St. Helena
We tried to do both by continuing from Sonoma to Napa via Napa Valley Road to Route 12 to Route 121 to Route 29, but most places close by 6pm, so we didn’t make it. I’m OK with a second trip to cover the rest.
Sonoma Wine Country DIY tour
You might find it odd that we recommend going to a farmers market for artisan chocolate, but SFBA farmers markets are generally very supportive of small, local chocolatiers and candy makers. For chocolatiers just starting out, farmers markets are a low-threshold way to get their wares into the hands of local chocolate lovers; and many chocolatiers keep selling at markets even after their businesses become successful.
The Tuesday Petaluma Farmers Market has one chocolatier, but it’s one we know well and can recommend.
Another place to find local artisan chocolate you might not have considered is local grocery stores and other retailers who support local business. Oliver’s Market is a local grocery chain that, depending on the store, carries Sonoma County-made chocolate. We found that selection varies by store, and can recommend one location that had several local chocolate options.
From Stony Point Road, we continued along Route 12 to Sebastopol, where we visited the charming shop of eye-doctor-by-day-chocolatier-by-night Sonja Schluter.
We first visited Sonoma Chocolatiers in May, but considered it worth a re-visit to see what new flavors they had to offer.
Wine Country Chocolates has 2 Sonoma County locations: Glen Ellen and on Sonoma Plaza. We found it to be a solid choice for wine country souvenirs that aren’t wine.
Seventh destination: The Chocolate Cow
This is one of those touristy sites with retro candies, ice cream, and a case full of large house-made chocolates and fudge. It seemed fun but didn’t appeal to us, so we didn’t try their wares. It might be just the place if you are touring with children or want some ice cream. They’ve been in business since 1991 so they obviously are popular, and the shop was bustling when we were there mid-week.
There are many more chocolatiers and chocolate makers in Sonoma County, but not all have a retail space. For the complete Sonoma County list, visit the Sonoma County DIY Tour page.
For information on chocolate destinations in Napa Valley, visit the Napa Valley DIY Tour page.
A writer/designer, Nancy lives in Oakland with Ronnie (AKA cacaopod), her husband of many years & fellow chocolate enthusiast.
Date posted: October 16, 2019. This entry was posted in Chocolate shops, Listed chocolate maker, Listed chocolatier, Local chocolate, North Bay and tagged Napa Valley, Oliver's Market, Sonoma County. Bookmark the permalink.