The last couple of years have emphasized how important it is to support local businesses. When the rubber hit the road, they were the ones working nights and weekends to make a product or serve you a delicious meal…all with tremendous grit, passion, and ingenuity. It was these small businesses that were able to pivot, make more with less, and find new ways to attract customers.
Now it’s time to repay them for all their efforts and do what comes naturally this time of year…SHOP! They say that every time a small business owner sees a sale come through, they do a little happy dance….well as a small business, we can attest, it’s 100% true! Channeling our best Oprah’s gift guide voice…Here are our top picks for shopping small, locally and bonus points for a minority or women-owned business, throughout California wine countries.
I’m going to choose two of my ‘must have’ products from Earthtonics, a woman-owned business in Ojai because they both have transformed my skin! The Honey and Bamboo scrub was the first item I received as a gift from my sister, and that led me to trying everything on their menu and becoming addicted to the Mushroom Milk. Don’t be fooled by the name, it sounds like it should be soup, but it leaves your skin so soft and bright the next day. I gave it to Nicole for her birthday this year, and now it’s one of her favorite gifts for friends as well!
We haven’t had a cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in Sonoma that we didn’t love. It’s that cheese you see in the market that is a bit of a splurge, but a wine country cheeseboard isn’t complete without it. I usually get the Mt. Tam – the triple cream pairs well with just about every wine and is best with a little dollop of fig preserves or local honey and served with Rustic Bakery crackers. They sell a “Just Add Wine Cheese Gift Set” which will be my gift a choice for the foodies in my life this year!
Sending some amplified holiday cheer to a super cool Napa family that roasts and owns Ohm Coffee. If we see their coffee truck parked downtown, we always stop and get a creamy latte, but now you can buy their beans at local grocery stores and for anyone living out of the area, you can order online! A coffee subscription is a great way to send some high voltage love to your under-caffeinated friends. Bonus points for this duo because if you like music, they also have a band. I can attest that all their joint ventures are done in harmony!
The air has gotten downright chilly, but we’re still gathering outside (some covid habits are hard to break) to visit with friends and admire the fall foliage. Our good friends, the Reeds, took an old family tradition of making mulled wine during the holidays and bottled it to make Napice! This lovely, spiced wine isn’t sweet, adds seasonal cheer to a warmed glass next to the fire.
This list wouldn’t be complete with the gift that tops Oprah’s list every year and is something we smuggle in our suitcase when we visit friends, Model Bakery’s buttery English Muffins are light and fluffy and blow those tasteless hockey pucks you can find at the grocery store away. Toast them and serve with a local jam from Clif Family and impress any overnight guest this holiday season.
Mommenpop Grapefruit Aperitif. Made in Napa by local winemaker, Samantha Sheehan, this has been my go-to pre-dinner drink to get the night started with friends. All the flavors are delicious, but I personally like the grapefruit best. I serve it in a rocks glass, over ice and topped off with sparkling wine. Absolutely perfect for a holiday party drink or gift for the host!
Valley Bar & Bottle in Sonoma is my favorite restaurant this year! I love the food, but I love the wine list more. They have tons of unique picks that you won’t see other places…I love wines from Sicily (especially the rosés, of course) and they have a great selection. If you can’t make it in for dinner, they have a bottle shop where you can grab wines to go. They also have a wine club, which would make for a great gift for any wine nerd.
Floret Chocolate is a local Napa chocolatier. I stop into their little storefront often to purchase gifts, and then I always end up with something for me too! The honeycomb chocolate is my favorite treat … you can purchase their chocolate online or at the store.