Summer Escape to the Russian River

Escape the hustle and bustle of summer to the Russian River as it winds its way through lush Sonoma wine country. Explore unique towns along its banks surrounded by massive redwood trees. Meander through miles of picturesque vineyards with charming wine-tasting establishments along the way. Nestled among the giant redwood trees is the Applewood Inn, Restaurant and Spa. Applewood is a romantic, serene, wine-country bed and breakfast with a rustic Italian feel.

Applewood Inn was established in 1985 by previous owners Jim Caron and Darryl Notter. Caron and Notter lavishly and lovingly restored the historic Mission Revival home. The original mansion was built in 1922 for the Ralph Belden family. Nicknamed “The Estate,” the mansion was one of the few dining establishments over the years to offer fine dining in the Russian River area. The land was previously inhabited by a century-old apple orchard,hence the name Applewood. Over the years, the Inn grew and flourished. With the addition of a new restaurant, a wine cellar, and two additional buildings, Applewood is now equipped with guest suites, a honeymoon suite, and even a spa. While the new buildings were designed with the same charm and attention to detail of the original home, the barn-inspired restaurant blended with the existing buildings flawlessly. In 2009, Carlos Pippa took over Applewood Inn and has continued to improve on the property and amenities of this 19-room bed and breakfast while keeping with the Mediterranean charm. After a long and indulgent day of wine tasting, coming back to an amazing massage and a cocktail on one of Applewood’s private patios is truly paradise.

 

In May of this year, after a long-anticipated remodeling, restaurant Pinoli Cucina Rustica opened its door at Applewood Inn, and the reviews have been fantastic. The restaurant’s new owner, Christian Darcoli, an Italian with a passion for fresh ingredients from both land and sea, fully embraced the farm-to-table standard of wine country. Darcoli’s menu is based on Applewood’s beautiful garden, serving farm-to-table lunches during the summer, and offers happy hour during summer months.

While dining at Pinoli Cucina Rustica, guests may have the unique opportunity to see Darcoli himself or one of his other chefs as all the food is served by those who prepare it. “I feel that it is very important for our chefs to have the opportunity to interact directly with our guests,” says Darcoli. “Allowing them to run the front of house as well as the back gives them the opportunity to welcome our guests into the restaurant and share their love for and knowledge about food that we create.” Signature dishes include the Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu and Beef Ravioli Ragu with Dropped Red Wine. While strolling through the lush gardens of Applewood, make sure to be on the lookout for chefs harvesting their fresh, seasonal vegetables, preparing for the dinner rush.

Sonoma, the gorgeous county that the Russian River calls home, has somehow been able to remain something of a hidden gem. Step back in time with a stop in the eclectic town of Guerneville or grab a bite in Korbel, a great stop along the way known for their amazing deli, superb sangria, beautiful gardens, and historical wine tours. Head to Healdsburg, a bustling town with a charming feel, or Forestville, a blink-and-you-might-miss-it town that is home to the truly magical Russian River Vineyards.

By Irene Marshall and Pax Ansley