The best menus in wine country

Wine country may be best known for rolling fields of grapes, but the restaurants found among the luxury real estate of Northern California’s most intoxicating region are some of the best in the nation. Paired with local wines, the food made here makes for truly most stunning dining experiences. Here is a small sampling of the country’s best.

 

Santé Restaurant

Address: 100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, CA 95476
Website: fairmont.com/sonoma/dining/sante-restaurant
With a well-deserved reputation for fine dining – one supported by Michelin designations and the coveted AAA Four Diamond Award – Santé Restaurant isn’t just one of the greatest restaurants in California’s wine country, but in the whole country. Simple, fresh dishes are the restaurant’s standby. Meats, poultry, produce and seafood define the menu, while a wine list of more than 500 Sonoma and Napa wines are available for pairing.

"You forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy the setting, the surprising and great tasting food," said one Yelp review. “You forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy the setting, the surprising and great tasting food,” said one reviewer.

“What an experience,” exclaimed one review. “This is certainly not your average night out. Sante has a sophisticated, sleek atmosphere inside the Fairmont Sonoma. Instantly, the rest of the world didn’t matter and it was all about the experience and the food. The staff are above and beyond – our waiter was incredibly professional and genuine. The sommelier had a wealth of knowledge, even when I quizzed him, he answered in layman’s terms – not pretentious in the least.”

 

Cole’s Chop House

Address: 1122 Main St, Napa, CA 94559
Website: coleschophouse.com
Located in historic downtown Napa, Cole’s Chop House is the very definition of a classic American steak house. With a menu that features 21-day dry-aged prime steaks, formula fed veal, New Zealand lamb and an assortment of fresh seafood, diners have an array of incredible dishes to choose from as they sit for a meal in the restaurant’s elegant dining room. Chefs Greg Cole and Jesus Mendez are renowned in wine country for how well their food pairs with a wide selection of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gourmet fillet mignon is only one of the many fantastic meals available at Cole's Chop House. Gourmet filet mignon is only one of the many fantastic meals available at Cole’s Chop House.

 

One reviewer remarked that “If you’re looking for a good steak this is the place. By far one of the best steaks I’ve had. It literally melts in your mouth,” while another noted the romantic ambiance of the restaurant’s high ceilings and warm lighting, a setting made all the more lovely by great local wines.

 

Michael Warring

Address: 8300 Bennington Dr, Vallejo, CA 94591
Website: michaelwarring.com
Studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York taught Michael Warring an appreciation of blended cuisines – a meeting of the traditional and the contemporary in a way that only he can create. Warring’s passion and skill gave him access to some of the best kitchens in the country, including Auberge in Napa Valley and Bouchon in Beverly Hills. Since then, he has opened his own small restaurant, an intimate and exquisite dining experience unlike any other.

Chef Warring prepares his exquisite meals directly in view of his diners. Chef Warring prepares his exquisite meals directly in view of his diners.

 

“Michael and Ali make you feel at home, taking you into their very own kitchen, for a masterful and warm dining experience. The wine pairings for each of the courses was more than enough for a couple to share; deftly paired wines from regions all over,” said one reviewer. “Every aspect of the meal: the food, atmosphere, hospitality, and pacing, was an amazing experience.”