Bars and Clubs
One way to taste wines from a wider variety of vineyards is to stop into a wine bar. Willi’s Wine Bar (4404 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa, 707/526-3096, www.williswinebar.net, Wed.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun.–Mon. 5–9:30 p.m.) offers flights of small pours and bottles of high-end vintages from Sonoma, Napa, and around the world.
To go with their wines, this upscale establishment offers cheese plates, charcuterie plates, and small plates of haute cuisine. Your server should be able to advise you as to which plates pair best with which wines.
For a more casual wine bar atmosphere, drop in at The Wine Shop (331 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707/433-0433).
Want to find a bar that doesn’t pander to the ubiquitous wine trade? Check out the Sonoma Brewing Company (725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707/545-2237, www.russianriverbrewing.com, Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–1 a.m.), which both makes and serves lots and lots of beer. And what goes better with beer than pizza?
The food menu leans heavily on pizza and calzones to satisfy folks who build up their appetites by trying the various (strong!) local brews. The brew pub also acts as a venue for local and regional blues, funk, and jazz bands—Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday nights feature live music.
Guerneville wouldn’t be a proper gay resort town without at least a couple of good gay bars creating a proper nightlife for visitors and locals alike. The most visible and funky looking (from the outside) of these is the Rainbow Cattle Company (16220 Main St., Guerneville, 707/869-0206, www.queersteer.com). Mixing the vibes of a down-home country saloon with happenin’ San Francisco nightspot, the Rainbow serves up cold drinks and hot men with equal abandon.
Think cocktails in Mason jars, wood paneling, and leather nights. And yet this is just the kind of queer bar where you can bring your mom or your straight-but-not-narrow friends, and they’ll have just as much fun as you do.
Both the ladies and the dudes, and even the straights, come out to dance and party at Liquid Sky (16225 Main St., Guerneville, 707/869-9910). Right across the street from the Rainbow, Liquid Sky lures DJs up from the Bay Area to spin for the dancing, groping crowds that populate the floor. Call or drop by to get the low-down on parties going on when you’re in town.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition