Skip to Content

Fortune’s Concierge Black Book: Sonoma County, California

Tamera Taylor of The Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County, Calif.Tamera Taylor of The Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County, Calif.
Tamera Taylor of The Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County, Calif.Courtesy: The Farmhouse Inn

Before becoming director of guest services and head concierge at Sonoma County’s luxurious Farmhouse Inn, Tamera Taylor was a model for fashion brands like Guess, Lucky, and Massimo in Los Angeles. “For 10 to 15 years, I traveled all over the world and really enjoyed staying at boutique hotels,” she says. In 2005 she gave up modeling and “moved to Sonoma with the aspiration of being an inn owner.” She wound up becoming a concierge instead. Eventually, she arrived at The Farmhouse Inn (which just unveiled nine new rooms with steam showers and forest-view patios). “I enjoyed running peoples’ companies for them instead of running my own,” says Taylor, who directs an all-female team of six concierges at the inn. “We all live the Sonoma lifestyle.” Here’s how you can too.

Favorite Town: “Twelve miles north of us, Healdsburg is the epicenter of everything that encompasses Sonoma. It has the art galleries, iconic foods, shopping, 15-to-20 different restaurants, local artisans, all in a small town. It offers just about anything you want. You can spend a whole day and never leave the Plaza [at the center of town]. It’s a great place to send guests because you can visit so many tasting rooms without driving between wineries.”

Can’t-Miss Winery: “One under-the-radar winery I love is Small Vines. Kathryn and Paul Sloan run this small-case production, and they do amazing pinot noir. The nice thing about Paul and Kathryn, they really make you feel at home. They greet guests at their house and take them on a tour through the vineyard. An appointment might only be 45 minutes, but then you wind up staying for lunch.”

Best New Restaurant: “At Chalkboard, chef Shane McAnelly has really brought Sonoma County into tapas-style dining experience. Sharing our valley sharing out produce. His menu is amazing. He starts off with small crudos, then moves into love fish and meats, handmade pastas with local rabbit sugo… It’s constantly changing, probably two or three times a month just to keep up with seasons. There’s a great outdoor patio, too. Our guests keep going back.”

Toughest Dinner Reservation: “There are only 10 tables and a six-seat bar at Scopa, so it’s super tough to get into, but it’s some of the best Italian food from here to San Francisco. The atmosphere is great, very fun, bistro-style with hip music, and the menu is very rustic Italian: ramp pizza, pasta with wild boar. They have a signature dish called Nonna’s Chicken, which has been on the menu since they opened. It’s served in a clay pot with braised local greens and soft polenta underneath. It’s the most succulent roast chicken you’ll have in your life.”

Picnic Plan: “Start at Oakville Grocery in downtown Healdsburg. They do gourmet cheese plates, sandwiches to order, some amazing local salads, roasted veggies. Then head to Arista Winery, a small, family-owned winery that produces strictly pinot noir and sits on a quite a few acres. They have a Japanese garden with live oaks and picnic tables strategically places for gorgeous views.”

Design Shop: “The newest in town is the SHED, which specializes in all things Sonoma. They carry local produce, earthenware, cookbooks, garden equipment… It reminds me of a Sonoma version of Dean & DeLuca. They also have a fermentation bar with wines on tap and wood-roasted pizza, so you can shop you can eat.”

Bike Trail: “The West County Trail starts in Forestville, two miles from Farmhouse, and you cross over back roads all the way to Sebastopol, [where you can pick up the Joe Rodota Trail to Santa Rosa]. There are no cars permitted on this road, and you can stop at wineries along the way for lunch or at Underwoods, a great local favorite.”

Locals’ Secret: “Down in Tomales Bay, about an hour from Farmhouse, Hog Island Oyster Co. has a beautiful set-up where you a can shuck or barbecue your own oysters. They have a fantastic list of champagne, gruners, and rieslings, too. You can sit out all day, eating, drinking and overlooking the water.”

Must-Have Souvenir: “We have a lot of artisan cheeses in the area, so you’ve got bring home some of those with an Urban Lumber Co. live-edge cutting board from Healdsburg. They’re made by hand with wood sourced from here to Eureka.”

Best Room in the House: “Room #24 is our king luxury room that sits in the very back part of our property. It faces southeast, gets the most light and overlooks a seasonal creek. It’s so bucolic and from the private patio, you can see deer and other wildlife. You get the feeling that you’re in the forest and far from civilization.”


Age: 50
Neighborhood: Healdsburg
Minibar Temptation: Our double chocolate-chip cookies
Favorite Hotel in the World: Qamea Resort in Fiji. “I loved that there were only 16 rooms on this little island, four [staff members] to each couple. All our needs were met day and night.”
Next Vacation: Croatia
Most Outrageous Guest Request: “I had a guest request a sailboat to be delivered to the Farmhouse and hauled out to nearest body of water to take a for a sail. He eventually changed his mind and just ordered a Maserati instead.”
A Great Concierge Is: “Sagacious.”

$10,000 DAY

We asked Tamera Taylor to plan us a single, singular day in Sonoma County. Here’s what she came up with.

Steve Thomasson from The Silver Service will greet you with a glass of Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine as you slide into his sleek LR4 Land Rover and take a short ride through the bucolic back roads of Sonoma County. Your destination: Charles Shultz Airport, where your private pilot from Helico Tours will be waiting for you. Once in flight, you will meander along the Russian River Valley, catching aerial views of iconic pinot noir vineyards such as Bacigalupi, Rochioli and Hirsch until you finally reach the rugged coastline in Jenner, where the Russian River spills into the Pacific Ocean. From there, you head North, cruising over Fort Ross, Timber Cove and finally circling back through the Dry Creek Valley, skimming over rows of old vine zinfandels and cabernets. But the ride is not over yet. Napa is just over the hill and the wine lover in you is begging for a personalized blending session, so off you go to The Wine Foundry, where you will learn how to custom blend and create your own wine.

Back at the airport, Steve has been waiting for you to return and is ready to whisk you away to Arista Winery, where Mark and Ben McWilliams will personally welcome you and take you on a guided tour through their lush 36-acre property. As the sun starts to set over the Russian River Valley, you are escorted to the intimate open-air pavilion where estate chef Tim Kauffers has crafted a five-course dinner just for you (and of course all perfectly paired with Arista’s amazing wines). Locally sourced foods and fresh-picked garden items will grace the plates while you enjoy a leisurely dinner under a canopy of stars.

Your evening ends back at the Farmhouse Inn where you will find a Signature Tub Turndown complete with tiny glowing candles, scented potions, plush towels and romantic music. And don’t forget to indulge in the house-made gooey double chocolate-chip cookies by your bedside before you turn out the lights!

Fortune’s Concierge Black Book is an occasional series in which we interview guides in the world’s most desirable locations. For more, visit