American men’s magazine Esquire published its 15th annual “best bars in America” list this week, highlighting “places that managed to remain intrinsic to the fabric of drinking culture in America” during the pandemic. Among the 27 bars featured on this year’s list is Sonoma’s new Valley Bar + Bottle, a wine bar, restaurant and bottle shop that opened in the former Harvest Moon Cafe location in July 2020.
Founded by four friends (two couples) who previously worked together at Scribe Winery in Sonoma, Valley’s wine list focuses on natural wines, which can be paired with small bites and a selection of entrees, made from local produce and prepared by chef Emma Lipp, formerly the Culinary Director at Scribe, and chef Stephanie Reagor.
“It’s that rare idyllic spot where for hours you can find yourself snacking on small plates of Spanish anchovies and piles of mortadella between sips of a cold, cloudy, funky esoteric orange from a varietal you’ve never had from a country you can barely place,” said Kevin Sintumuang of Esquire magazine.
Due to the pandemic, guests have not been able to belly up to the bar at Valley since it opened last year — instead enjoying wine and food on the outdoor patio. Now, with eased restrictions, wine lovers can finally have the experience the owners intended for this Sonoma spot.
“[Esquire] named us one of the top bars in America. And, now, you can actually sit at said bar,” announced Valley Bar + Bottle on Instagram and Facebook (indoor seating remains limited in accordance with COVID-19 regulations).
Valley Bar + Bottle is housed in the Leese-Fitch Adobe, built in 1836. While the interior has received upgrades, the owners have worked hard to maintain the atmosphere of the building.
“We wanted it to feel inviting and open but also European and kind of cozy,” said Lauren Feldman, co-founder of Valley. “We didn’t change anything architecturally; we just wanted to make it feel humble and clean and as original as we could.”
The Valley wine list offers an opportunity to explore wines and grape varieties from other parts of the world. Apart from a few bottles from Sonoma Valley producers like Gail Wines, Source & Sink and Scriber Winery (of course), most of the lineup hails from Europe — France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and other European countries.
Pair a glass of wine with the XO Egg, topped with the iconic, spicy Hong Kong condiment, recommends Sonoma Magazine contributor Jess Lander. Dinner entrees include half chicken with broccoli and chili oil and King salmon with peas and miso broth (see full menu here). Valley also is open for brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays (see brunch menu here).
Ashes & Diamonds Winery in Napa, featured in Sonoma Magazine as one of “the hottest tastings experiences in Wine Country,” also made the Esquire list as “the coolest tasting experience in Napa.” View the full list here.
Valley Bar + Bottle, 487 1st St W, Sonoma, 707-934-8403, valleybarandbottle.com.