Sonoma County abounds with creative people, many of them driven to make things inspired by what grows here and entrepreneurial verve of the wine industry. You can never go wrong with a food gift from here, nor something related to beer or spirits, which locals love as much as they do wine. Much care goes into the making of these products, which are often handmade and sustainably sourced. A gift from Sonoma County is not only immeasurably unique but helps to support the local community of farmers and makers, which is a gift in itself.
Local legendary chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart run Black Pig Meat Company, a pig farm where the animals are sustainably raised, free-roaming and raised without antibiotics or hormones. Their bacon is amongst the best in the world, dry cured in brown sugar for 21 days, then applewood-smoked for 12 hours. Beyond bacon, they make Piggy Pops (bacon lollipops), bacon caramel popcorn and Swine Sweets chicharron peanut butter cups
Alchemist Phaedra Achor is the visionary behind Monarch Bitters, a line of beautifully packaged, organic, local or wild harvested and deliciously creative bitters and cocktail syrups available online or at her tiny apothecary in Petaluma. www.MonarchApothecaryandTrading.com
Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol produces an assortment of grain-to-glass gin, vodka and whiskey, but its unique standout is Sloe Gin and Barrel Reserve Sloe Gin, both festively red in color. Sloe Gin is gin fermented with macerated tart sloe berries and cane sugar, a good stand-in for sweet vermouth in cocktails or quite nice mixed with sparkling wine, especially during the holidays.
Russian River Brewing is a beloved Sonoma County institution and its Pliny the Elder double-IPA a legend in beer. Show it some love with the Pliny the Elder T-shirt, made in California from 100% organic cotton.
The Calling Wines are a Sonoma-based partnership between famed CBS sports commentator, Jim Nantz, and wine industry veteran, Peter Deutsch. Made by esteemed Sonoma winemaker, James MacPhail, The Calling offers premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon highlighting some of the best AVAs and vineyards in Sonoma, including The Patriarch Pinot Noir from Putnam Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast.