Sipping and Savoring Through Sonoma

Chelsea wine tasting at Benziger Family Winery

Wine tasting at Benziger Family Winery

With 370 wineries, 72 varieties of wine grapes and 267,062 tons of grapes harvested per year, it may seem difficult to decide just which wineries to experience in Sonoma County.  We have the same thought often, and we live here! As a result, I have put together two new packages to make your vacation stress free. Let me use my wealth of knowledge of the area and wine to build the perfect day for any visitor, featuring wineries that really express and represent what our valley has to offer.

Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma Valley

The beautiful estate of Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma

Our new “Sipping Sonoma” package allows you to venture to three wineries, all with close proximity to the Kenwood Inn and Spa. I enjoy starting the day with a Pinot tasting at Benziger Family Winery, known for their smooth wines and sustainable growing efforts. All four of their estate vineyards are Demeter-certified Biodynamic, which is the highest level of organic farming. Located just five minutes from the Inn, this tasting allows you to develop your own opinion on Pinots as they are tasted side by side. Next, travel north to the barrel-filled caves of Deerfield Ranch Winery. Relax on their couches and enjoy an upgraded tasting of “clean wine.” Finish the day with an amazing adventure at Kunde Family Winery, where five generations of Kunde family have farmed. Ascend up 1,400 feet to the Mountain Top outdoor tasting area to enjoy sweeping views of the valley and even Kenwood Inn!

Sonoma Valley Tasting

Mountain Top tasting at Kunde Family Winery

If you’re more of a foodie, then you will enjoy our new “Savor Sonoma” package. Upon check in, we welcome you to enjoy a delicious local artisanal cheese plate for two, paired perfectly with a chilled bottle of Rosé from Hamel Family Wines. Begin your first day with us delighted in private tasting appointments at two of our valley’s most exclusive wineries, Hamel Family Wines and Hanzell Vineyards. You will not only learn about how wine is made, but you will taste estate wines, and explore the barrel-aging caves and vineyards of both properties. Return to your home at the Inn for your three-course dinner enjoyed inside or outside in front of the fireplace. You will sleep well in your guest room after an eventful day in the valley.

But perhaps you are looking for a fully customized experience; no problem! Email me your “Wine Country Whim” and I will make it happen!

We look forward to hosting you soon in Sonoma Wine Country!


Posted in Kenwood Experiences

March Is All About Food & Film

Am I still “new” if I have been the General Manager of Kenwood Inn and Spa for over four months now? Probably so, since I am new to Kenwood too! I relocated from Southern California in November, and in Los Angeles there is certainly something different to do every night of the week. By contrast, I have also lived in more remote areas of the country like Edwards, Colorado, where the activities options include skiing and… more skiing. As I get settled in my new surroundings I am always intrigued by what is happening in my own backyard; I like to get out and explore what the locals are doing in order to better assimilate myself into my new community.

I’ve found that Sonoma County is the perfect blend of just enough activity, but not too much to disrupt its serene atmosphere. I read an interesting excerpt from the Heart of Sonoma Valley website that captures that very feeling:

“Heart of Sonoma Valley is located in Northern Sonoma Valley. Dozens of wineries dot our hills and speckle our valley in and around the picturesque towns of Kenwood and Glen Ellen. For over 100 years, we have been producing world-class wines. Our history is rich, our wines are distinct with character, our roots run deep. We invite you for a glass of wine, a delicious meal, a walk through our gardens, a hike in our parks, a visit to our preserves… here you’ll find a bit of heaven in the place we call home.”

What better location is there to enjoy that glass of wine, a delicious meal, and a walk through the garden than our very own hotel? There aren’t many! However, while you are our guest we encourage you to explore some of the truly unique experiences Sonoma has to offer. During the month of March there are two spectacular events that all of us at Kenwood Inn and Spa look forward to, and recommend you take part in as well. We invite our guests to contact the concierge for tips on these experiences or for assistance purchasing tickets.


Join twenty wineries throughout Sonoma Valley this March for a Food & Wine Experience.

Join twenty wineries throughout Sonoma Valley this March for a Food & Wine Experience.

The 2015 Savor Sonoma Valley takes place on March 21st and 22nd. Wineries will be showcasing 2014 vintage wines straight from the barrels, sampling new releases, and offering award-winning wines paired perfectly with culinary creations prepared by local chefs and restaurants. Meet winemakers, mingle with wine lovers behind-the-scenes, peruse art from local artists and listen to live music. Experience the best that Sonoma Valley has to offer. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.


The Sonoma International Film Festival  features more than 90 hand-selected films.

The Sonoma International Film Festival features more than 90 hand-selected films.

If you have had your fill of great food and great wine, how about some great film? Now in its 18th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival (March 25 – 29, 2015) takes place in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country and features more than 90 hand-selected films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, shorts and a showcase of Spanish language films. All films are shown at intimate venues within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza. The Festival is dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world and inspiring film lovers.

This unique five-day event offers world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners. Renowned filmmakers, industry leaders and celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Danny Glover have walked the festival red carpet and enjoyed its intimate ambiance. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

It is a pleasure to be living in such a beautiful part of the country with such unique experiences at our doorstep. I’d encourage you to try both stellar events if you are in the area…. maybe I will see you there!

Michael Collins

Posted in Kenwood Experiences, Life at Kenwood Tagged with: , ,

Six Wineries You Must Experience During Your Stay at Kenwood Inn and Spa

So many wineries, so little time.  Stunning Sonoma County sprawls 1,786 square miles, and is home to over 450 wineries with over 60,000 acres of planted vineyards. The area around the Kenwood Inn and Spa boasts some of the best!  We’ve narrowed down our picks for the top not-to-be-missed wineries offering unique experiences and vintners who constantly push the envelope.

For more than four decades, the wines of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards have reflected the finest mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County.  St. Francis Winery consistently produces luscious, elegant, fruit driven wines that best interpret the richness and distinct varietal characteristics of Sonoma’s unique, diverse terroir.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyard

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

Tastings at St. Francis Winery

Tastings at St. Francis Winery

Chateau St. Jean, with its gracious style, elegant architecture, inviting gardens and tasting rooms, is the quintessential Sonoma winery. The winemaking estate is located at the foot of Sugarloaf Ridge in the Sonoma Valley near Kenwood. Visitors to Chateau St. Jean enter a main courtyard surrounded by a lush garden. Inspiration for the garden was based on the classic estate gardens of the Mediterranean, as seen through the use of citrus-planted terracotta pots and the generous use of herbs and flowers. The winery has integrated existing site features and vistas into a landscape that is both relaxed and elegant to exemplify Sonoma wine country.

Chateau St. Jean 1 and 2

Chateau St. Jean

For over a century, five generations of the Kunde family have farmed an 1,850-acre estate in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Kunde’s winemaking mission is to carry on that tradition by crafting elegant, estate-grown, sustainably farmed wines with a real sense of place – beautifully balanced and expressive of their dramatic vineyard landscape.  Kunde’s breathtaking Mountain Top Tasting allows guests to sample the finest vintages at 1,400 feet, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Kunde Estate. Overlook the Sonoma Valley, and onwards to the San Francisco Bay, as you taste wine in this truly one of a kind setting.

Kunde Family Estate

Kunde Family Estate

Deerfield Ranch Winery’s tasting room is set in the center of their 23,000 square feet wine cave, in the heart of the production facility. Guests walk through the crush pad, around the fermenting tanks, through beautiful Redwood portal doors, into the cave past hundreds of barrels full of wine to the center of the wine glass shaped cave and into the Grand Room. Guests sit comfortably in overstuffed couches and chairs, instead of standing at a crowded tasting bar, as they enjoy a flight of five wines.

Deerfield Ranch Winery

Deerfield Ranch Winery

Eight, same-generation family members manage every aspect of the grape-growing and winemaking endeavors at Benziger Family Winery.   At Benziger Family Winery, the wines have character and conscience – they’re not only great in the glass, they’re grown in a way that’s good for the environment, too.   Every wine in the portfolio carries a third-party certification of green farming practices. Whether the vineyard is certified sustainable, organic or biodynamic, it’s carefully tended with the most eco-responsible methods available – the best way to make distinctive, authentic wines. At Benziger Family Winery, guests explore the differences between sustainable, organic and biodynamic growing practices.

Benziger Family Winery

Benziger Family Winery

Hamel Family Wines strives to make a limited quantity of consistently great wines, primarily from Bordeaux varietals, and, more importantly, to have fun while doing so.  Hamel Family Wines values quality over quantity, enjoyment over tedium, and building for long-term lasting success over short-term quick hits, and endeavors to produce the highest quality wines from grapes grown on their Sonoma Valley estates.  Hamel Family Wines vineyards are farmed sustainably with organic and biodynamic practices, always seeking to be mindful of their role as responsible stewards of the land. The winery is nestled up against the Mayacamas Mountains, providing guests with dramatic views over the gently rolling vineyards.

Hamel 3 and 4

Hamel Family Wines

Contact our concierge to arrange exclusive winery visits to compliment your stay, or view our luxurious selection of guest room packages. Cheers!

Posted in Uncategorized

About Chelsea

Chelsea DeMennoAs our in-house blogger, concierge and Sonoma guru, Chelsea helps create truly unique experiences...