While Amy’s and Miyoko’s have attracted a lot of attention, other smaller manufacturers are also creating a niche in their product categories with a focus on premium products. They include Renegade Food, which is based in Berkeley but produces its own food in Petaluma; and Wildbrine of Santa Rosa, which has expanded into Wildcreamery to offer herbal cream cheese and sour cream products. The effort for these producers is to make a premium product in categories similar to what local growers have done with wine.
“We really had this interest in plant-based dairy. It’s just a huge opportunity with double-digit and triple-digit growth and some of the innovations we can bring, ”said Chris Glab, co-owner of Wildbrine and Wildcreamery.
Like the others, Glab said Sonoma County is well positioned to become a plant-based food movement hub given the reputation on which it can be built. This focuses specifically around agriculture when the area decades ago was a bastion of prunes and apples that gave way to the most lucrative grapes. Cannabis has also now come out with legalization. Some have even put the “Sonoma” label inside their business name to highlight the area’s reputation. These activities have been further enhanced by new retail markets, as well as restaurants specializing in on-farm menu items, which lure visitors from all over the world. world.
“You have a really food-conscious community with great restaurants, great fresh produce and innovative products,” Glab said. “You have an adventurous community.”
The move can also be seen in supermarket corridors, such as Oliver’s Market where Beyond Meat has four of the 20 most popular frozen natural products, said Dustin Canter, a natural food buyer for the local retailer.
“It has become an overwhelming category to be reviewed with such a high volume of innovation,” Canter said. He echoed others, saying that with more entry into the category, product quality can range from having dubious ingredients to others who “really focus on making a pure product with a list of ingredients that will to be even the strictest etiquette controller. proud to eat. ”
Another important growing area is dining. Amy’s has led the way with its popular restaurants offering casual fast food from a vegetarian and vegan menu. It has three restaurants, including in Rohnert Park, where on the opening day there were long queues of supported customers. The company will open a new trip to Roseville next month and one to Orange County next year as part of its plan to have at least 25 restaurants within the next five years, Berliner said.
“You go to Los Angeles and there are so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants. “It’s not surprising, not so much here,” he said.
But that is constantly changing. A noticeable difference: wine tasting room operators and sommelier are realizing that there is a growing clientele seeking plant-based food options with their wine couples. For example, Domaine Carneros in Napa County offers Miyoko vegan cheese products for its tasting menu. Winery Migration will host its first vegan winemaker dinner with Schinner in March, said Alison Kilmer, a plant-based local food industry consultant who helps with vegan events under her Wine Country 2.0 campaign.
“There’s a huge push out there around the world for this move,” Kilmer said. “This is what our wine country hospitality industry really needs to prepare for.”
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa hosted its first vegan winemaker dinner this year with a menu that included items such as a blanket chenine from Mendocino County combined with heritage maple glazed carrots, green garlic tofu, dukkah spice and quinoa croaking. The event was a success and is being planned for one in the future given the growing interest, especially from visitors outside the city, said Brian Casey, director of drinks and sommelier for the property.
“With diners, they will actually plan their vacation around places where they can go and feel comfortable eating. “They do a lot of investigative work in advance to find out if there will be restaurants where they will have plant-based choices,” Casey said.
One aspect of this trend would be the changing nature of agriculture. Schinner, in particular, has been a vocal animal welfare advocate for a departure from the meat and dairy sector, and she won earlier this year in a lawsuit that will allow her to continue to use focused phrases. to milk in her company ads. She has also offered an olive branch as part of a program where Miyoko’s will help dairy farmers switch to harvest to become part of her company’s supply chain. In Sonoma County, milk represented $ 127 million in value for 2019, about 13% overall, while livestock and poultry were $ 74 million in almost 8% of the total, according to the county agriculture department.
“We do not need to be a threat. “We can be part of the solution,” she said.
But Casey has already pointed out that there are local vegetable farms that have made a name for themselves as part of the top shelf kitchen ingredients that can serve as a model, like Flatbed Farm in Glen Ellen and Green String Farm in Petaluma.
“The wineries are in the perfect place. “While visiting the wineries, you are passing by these organic gardens,” he said.
You can contact Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @BillSwindell.