Michael Volpatt, owner of Big Bottom Market, is perhaps best known for his cookies, which were one of Oprah’s “favorite things” a few years ago. But Volpatt, a staple in this small Russian River community, has its hands in the mix in many ways beyond cookie-making.
Volpatt co-owns the Equality Vines tasting room across the street from the market, runs a local public relations firm and volunteers at a nearby pig sanctuary. Not to mention that at the start of the pandemic, he became the host of a self-produced cooking show, broadcasting his homemade dishes live: “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I hadn’t found my pod yet. So I said, ‘I’m going to do what makes me happiest,’ which is to make my mom’s marinara sauce.
After finishing a day of work, Volpatt heads to what he calls his gym, near Armstrong Woods, where he walks the redwood trails and does some strengthening exercises. But it is his bond with the people of Guerneville that seems to fuel his energy and overflowing interests.
For a day trip on the Russian River that would make Volpatt proud, check out these favorite stops below in Guerneville and West County.
Big Bottom Market
Volpatt Market offers great takeout, cookbooks and foodie gifts, and partners with winemakers to offer bottles that give back to local charities. 16228 Main Street, Guerneville, 707-604-7295, bigbottommarket.com
River’s End Restaurant & Inn
Specializing in spectacular sunsets since the 1920s, this restaurant overlooks where the Russian River meets the ocean. Try the hyper-local Dungeness crab ravioli with wild mushrooms. 11048 Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-2484, ilovesunsets.com
Christopher Queen Galleries
In nearby Duncans Mills, this two-story gallery features rotating exhibits by contemporary artists on the first floor and, on the second floor, California landscapes from the 1800s and early 1900s. 4 John Orr Gardens, Duncans Mills, 707-865-1318, christopherqueengalleries.com
West County Wines
Flambeaux Wines is run by a New Orleans family that creates bottles to pair with Southern dishes like okra, shrimp and grits. And Porter-Bass has been farming with biodynamic practices since the 1980s. Both wineries are open by appointment. Torch Wine1333 Jack Pine Road, Healdsburg, 707-637-9019, flambeauxwine.com; porter-bass11750 Mays Canyon Road, Guerneville, 707-869-1475, porter-bass.com
Love Wins Sparkling Wine celebrates the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage. 16215 Main Street, Guerneville, 877-379-4637, equalvines.com
When Pigs Fly Ranch
Some very lucky pigs live well in this sanctuary on the Russian River. Wesley, an 800-pounder, will roll over to rub his belly. Visits by appointment. whenpigsflyranch.org