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Rustically Refined

Updated: May 18

By Fran Endicott Miller


Sonoma, one of California’s most eclectic counties, is home to forested mountains, verdant vineyards, and ocean waters. The diverse landscape meets the varied desires of all travelers, as does the area’s offerings of overnight accommodations, ranging from rustic to refined. Visitors can find a flawless combination of the two at Farmhouse Inn. Decidedly on the refined end of the curve, this boutique hotel in the Russian River Valley’s bohemian enclave of Forestville serves as a sumptuous yet casual home base for area exploration.

Proprietors Joe Bartolomei and Catherine Bartolomei-Smith, who are brother and sister, grew up in Forestville. Together, they have created a six-acre hospitality gem featuring 25 farmhouse-chic rooms that vary in size and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The pampering begins with the offer of a glass of wine at check-in and continues through the entire stay, thanks to attentive service and indulgent extras.


Those extras include a lobby-located, serve-yourself bath bar with selections of brown sugar scrub, bath salts, and organic soaps. The lobby also features a serve-yourself gourmet s’mores bar with all the artisanal makings for the gooey treat. Two poolside fire pits provide a convivial space in which to toast, construct, and enjoy. And if a sweet tooth persists, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies delivered at turndown will satiate the craving.


Each room also includes complimentary snacks (artisan crackers, cheese, cashews, and organic tortilla chips). Sodas and sparkling water are also gratis. Join other guests every afternoon from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for wine tasting held in the Inn’s newest meeting space, The Grange, where local vintners take turns pouring their best while sharing vinous histories. Guest rooms also offer for purchase a selection of six full-sized varietals all from nearby wineries.


From cozy Farmhouse King rooms above the property’s original farmhouse building to charming cottages, to sumptuously large King Luxury Suites with a separate, barn-door-divided sitting area, each room is designed with upscale, farmhouse-chic flair, including fresh flowers and a personalized chalkboard welcome. Rooms feature gas-or wood-burning fireplaces, several of which are doublesided for interior and patio enjoyment. Bathrooms here are reason alone for a stay. Large, jetted soaking tubs overlook oak-tree-studded hillsides. Heated floors provide soothing comfort, and steam showers sooth aching muscles.


The proprietors purchased the Farmhouse premises in 2001, when the property was known primarily as a restaurant and was flanked by six guest rooms. The siblings refined and refurbished the Inn portion and, with Executive Chef Steve Litke, reimagined the restaurant for which accolades have since poured in. For nearly 20 years, Litke has maintained the restaurant’s one Michelin star rating. His ever-changing menu relies exclusively on what is fresh and seasonal. Three-, four-, or five course options allow for mixing and matching menu categories— first, second, main, and dessert. Many ingredients come directly from the nearby Bartolomei ranches or from local Sonoma County sources.

Guests can enjoy going to the Farmhouse Restaurant for a meal by strolling to and from guest rooms on gravel paths fronted with roses, espaliered fruit trees, and vegetable filled raised garden beds. If staying for more than one night, they can ask the front desk for additional dinner suggestions. The staff are local, know the area well, and have forged strong relationships with nearby restaurants and wineries. A stay at Farmhouse Inn affords insider access.

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