The Wine Guy - Greg Walter


Notable updates: Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar

For many people, locals and visitors alike, the Carneros Bistro is not the first place they think of for a respite from the rigors of holiday shopping or just grabbing an impromptu glass of wine. Most likely, that’s because of it’s location at the Lodge at Sonoma on Broadway about a mile south of the Plaza.

Well, that’s their loss.

I’ve always felt that the Carneros Bistro may be the best “complete” wine and food experience in Sonoma. The bar and lounge are comfortable and friendly with the full restaurant menu available. The restaurant and Chef Andrew Wilson’s menu is hands down one of the best in town. Some of my favorites from his menu: Cured Salmon Pastrami; the Bistro Wedge salad; and Mushroom, Brie, Caramelized Onion Pizza; for entrees, the Shrimp & Grits and the Two-Day Berkshire Pork are delicious.

Wine Director and Sommelier Chris Sawyer’s wine program is really eclectic, with a broad selection of wines from all over the world. In addition to his work at the Lodge, Chris is an acclaimed wine writer and competition judge. His love of wine and his razor-sharp sense for matching wine and food have served his customers well. He and colleague Dan Noreen select terrific wines both for the substantial wine list in Carneros Bistro and the shelves and wine racks in the resort’s gourmet coffee, wine bar and retail shop, Bean & Bottle.

Bean & Bottle is located inside the hotel lobby and features an all-day menu of fresh-baked croissants and muffins, grilled sandwiches, local cheeses and housemade charcuterie. The full bar features not only wine and coffee but also a cool selection of locally-produced spirits and a great selection of wines offered at retail prices for bottle sales. The space is comfortable and opens up to the pool deck.

While both Chris and Dan have extensive experience buying and selling wines from all around the world, they both have an affinity for the great wines produced here in Sonoma County and Chris in particular has a real love and appreciation for Sonoma County Pinot Noir. One of my favorite things at the Bistro is the list of imaginative wine flights that allow you to sample glasses of several wines of a type.

Let me tell you, the wine fun doesn’t end there. Chris runs a lot of special wine programs and seasonal dinners at the restaurant including two special weekly features. Every Tuesday is Chris’s “Grapes to Glass” wine class with each class focusing on a different wine type or topic. The classes are offered free of charge. Thursdays are “Celebrity Wine-Tender” nights featuring local winemakers pouring complimentary tastes of their latest and finest releases.

December is a special month at the Lodge. In addition to special holiday events including Community Cookie Decorating on December11 and Holiday Carolers from the Presentation School on December 17, Chris Sawyer has a great lineup of wine classes and a month full of Celebrity Wine-Tenders from several of our great local sparkling wine producers.

So head on down and enjoy one of Sonoma’s great wine venues this season. I know I will.

Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, The Lodge at Sonoma, 1325 Broadway (at Leveroni), Sonoma, 707-935-6600, Thelodgeatsonoma.com.

As always, you can email me with questions or comments at gswalter@pinotreport.com.

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