Among Sonoma County’s best accommodations, The Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Autograph Collection seamlessly blends the region’s distinctive beauty with California-inspired gastronomy and extraordinary amenities. And, thanks to a recent $17 million renovation, it checks even more “wow” boxes than before. Through the renovation, the property’s mission-style architecture was preserved, yet there is now a refreshed front drive featuring lush landscaping and a unique fountain with fire features perfect for photo opportunities (hello, selfie fountain!).
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by an open-concept lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows revealing nearby rolling hills. Opposite check-in, there is an insane mural that must stretch 40 feet in stark navy and gold. It honors what the Mission San Francisco Solano, which was the last California mission and is located about a mile away, and the surrounding neighborhood around the resort looked like more than 200 years ago. The mural leads to three of my favorite spots on property: the massive indoor fireplace, the more casual of the resort’s eateries – Benicia’s Kitchen, and glass doors that open to the outdoor fire pit and pool pavilion.
Fireplace Wine Bar
The indoor fireplace brings such warmth to the entire space. It also happens to double as a wine bar! An innovative self-serve lobby wine experience is nestled across from the fireplace and available for guests to enjoy the region’s renowned flavors on their own time.
Open for breakfast daily, Benicia’s has both Latin-inspired items and more traditional farm-fresh fare. Think everything from chilaquiles to perfectly crispy potatoes to locally sourced bacon, so something for everyone. Each day, Benicia’s also hosts a happy hour featuring a complimentary wine tasting for guests as well and has a pretty impressive cocktail menu.
Now…on to those glass doors! Or, to be more precise, let’s head out those glass doors.
The outdoor grounds at The Lodge are nirvana.
First, there is the fire pit space, which must have seating for 20 directly around it then space for another 20 just a few feet away. Do not even think about staying at the resort if you don’t plan to get a hot cocoa or spiked cider and sit by this fire, because – as kids these days say – it is straight fire (is that still a cool saying?)
Next to the fire pit is what appears to be a sign that says “Napa, Get Off Your High Horse” signed “Sonoma.” In actuality, it is not a sign at all. When it opens up and the sign disappears, it is actually High Horse, a mobile cocktail unit made from a converted horse trailer. The phrase? A little harmless banter from Sonoma to Napa, as is the case throughout the neighboring wine countries.
The quirky cocktail bar not only serves those around the fire pit but acts as the poolside bar for loungers and swimmers as well. Speaking of the pool, it is surrounded by vibrant greenery on all sides and open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It features both open seating and private cabanas that may be reserved. And yes, there is a heated spa as well.
Many of the properties most fabulous rooms are mere steps from the pavilion, or overlook it, and each is more impressive than the last. As part of the renovation noted above, all of the Lodge’s 182 rooms, suites and cottages underwent a facelift, many now with soaking tubs, vineyard views and/or cozy fireplaces. I am partial to the cottages, as much for the free bicycles to use around property parked out front of the private entrance and outdoor fireplace with super modern and fun seating options (a hanging swing…yes, please!) as for the copious space in the room itself.
You already want to book, right? Oh, we are not done yet. We still have to talk signature restaurant and spa on property, people!
The Lodge features chef Michael Mina’s first wine country restaurant in Wit & Wisdom. Located adjacent to the killer front drive fountain, Wit & Wisdom is a celebration of all things that rock in California cuisine. As with all of his restaurants, there is meticulous presentation and every single flavor serves a purpose.
Many items are cooked in a hearth oven, which in addition to infusing warmth and layers of flavor into dishes also acts as a chic focal point behind the bar. Of course, the wine menu is on point. It reads like an encyclopedia of the best bottles from across Sonoma and Napa, of course. One surprising thing, and no idea why I was surprised given Mina’s name is on the brand, is the cocktail menu. Whoa, nelly! It is a showstopper. A perfect combination of traditional offerings and more twisted delights, featuring libations from celebrated San Francisco mixologist Camber Lay, it is worth taking a break from wine tasting for a libation or two while staying. I personally recommend the Stickywicket, which features Sagamore Rye, Fernet-Branca Smoked Maple and barrel-aged bitters ($14) and Time Well Used, a visual stunner with Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky St. George Apple Brandy and this crazy Earl Grey clarified milk punch ($15). Final bonus: when nice outside, enjoy a little bocce ball on the patio before or after dinner.
Rounding out your dream visit to The Lodge…Radiance Spa.
There, expect locally inspired treatments that highlight an array of indigenous botanicals found throughout the property and region – from antioxidizing wine facials to hair masks made from locally sourced olive oil. An apothecary-style retail boutique allows you to hand-select scents and ingredients you wish to use in your treatments, which is a luxe touch.
At the heart of the new Lodge at Sonoma experience are signature rituals and immersive offerings that go beyond grape stomping. Upon arrival, guests receive a personal invitation to the day’s events, including a visit to the “Dream Wall” at the Heritage Oak space beneath the property’s 400-year-old valley oak tree. Guests can write down their personal dreams and place them in a bottle. Over time, the resort will gather this paper as compost and add it to the soil that feeds the vineyard and trees on-property. In this way, guests’ dreams will live on at The Lodge. During their stay, guests are also invited to unwind with a new “Sonoma Soak” ritual, which includes a curated drop of relaxation-inducing bath amenities delivered directly to their doorstep to make the perfect wine country soak. With a glass of Sonoma’s finest wine in hand, guests can take in a breath of fresh air and savor wine country at their own pace. Grape harvesting, cheese-making for private groups, and bicycle route maps for the resort bikes are also offered, along with more experiences off-property.
To learn more, visit www.thelodgeatsonoma.com.