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Fermentation “hot” in Sonoma County – California

May 26, 2017 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

The ancient process of fermentation creates heat, and all things fermented are hot right now in Sonoma County, where fermentation bars, restaurants, an annual festival, and more celebrate this biological phenomenon.

Essentially, fermentation is an enzymatically controlled transformation of an organic compound.

That sounds stuffy and dry, but it’s the process that’s at the heart of creating fine wine from grape juice; turning simple liquids into award-winning artisan beers, ciders, and spirits; and causing the yeast to rise in delectable breads and other baked goodies. Active enzymes even break down cedar shavings to create an amazing heat treatment at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.

Fermentation is at the heart of the abundant Sonoma Wine Country lifestyle, and is starting to get the recognition it deserves.

Housed in a remodeled 20th Century storefront, the Flower & Bone restaurant features a “preserve-centric menu.” A passion for canning, pickling, and fermenting prompted owners Dalia Martinez and Jason Sakach to create this restaurant highlighting ancient Eurasian traditions and techniques. Martinez and Sakach also own Santa Rosa’s popular Naked Pig Café, which also features much of their “preserve-centric” passion on its brunch and lunch menus.

Healthy fermented beverages are a big part of the trend. Fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria creates kombucha. Kefir is a cultured, creamy product that’s similar to drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as the friendly probiotic bacteria found in yogurt. And Jun is a fermented tonic made of green tea and honey.

Step up to the fermentation bar at Healdsburg SHED, and choose from house-made kombucha and kefir water, or try one of their Shrubs—an old-fashioned refresher once common for slaking a farmer’s thirst, and made with seasonal peak-of-flavor produce, vinegar, and fresh herbs.

And in a small complex in Sebastopol, the tasting bar at The Kefiry offers handcrafted, fake-free, guilt-free, non-dairy, and great-tasting live-cultured, probiotic Kefir drinks and popsicles.

You can also drink organic wellness in Sebastopol at The Nectary, which serves 100 percent organic fresh cold-pressed beverages, such as fruit-and-herbal-infused Kefir, Jun, and Kombucha, as well as superfood, green smoothies, health and wellness shots, hot tonics and teas, and living/raw food snacks and sweet treats.

Then, celebrate all things fermented at the Sonoma County Fermentation Festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at the Petaluma County Fairgrounds. This fundraiser for the Sebastopol Grange Hall hosts more than 30 vendors of non-alcoholic, artisan fermented foods and beverages. Try traditional fermented food like Kim chi and dill pickles, along with unexpected ferments like cultured condiments and salsas. Sip cider, beer, mead, and wine from craft producers; attend classes and hear from fermentation masters; explore exhibits on how fermentation works; and take a private tasting class.

Of course, this is just a sampling of how fermentation is brewing up a storm in Sonoma County, California.

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