Preserving The Traditions Of The West Through Food, Wine And Sport

Many may think the ideals of the Old West are a thing of the past, long gone and forgotten. But for Darius Anderson, co-founder of Sonoma’s Wing & Barrel Ranch, they’re very much so alive. He’s on a mission to reignite the passion for those very traditions that once thrived in previous generations.

The new Wing & Barrel Ranch is the most prestigious private club on the West Coast. This ranch is one-of-a-kind for this side of the U.S., an area where sporting clubs aren’t very common. Located in California’s wine country, with views of Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountain ranges, this club offers members a unique place to escape urban life. And more importantly, a place to reconnect with nature through longstanding hunting traditions and outdoor activities that include sporting clays, fishing and more.

One of its key missions is to preserve the traditions of the sporting way of life and ensure the opportunity for current and future generations to enjoy the outdoors and California’s natural beauty. In addition to offering seasonal pheasant, chukar and quail hunting on over 1000 acres, the ranch also has the only West Coast Sporting Clays course; shooting grounds with 15 fully automatic fields, each containing three shooting stations and offering over 90 target presentations; and a stocked pond on-site offering anglers the opportunity to practice fly-fishing.

When it comes to culinary offerings, the ranch offers dining programming led by Executive Chef Victoria Acosta, previously of The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Culinary Advisor Chef Charlie Palmer. Wing & Barrel Ranch showcases a range of wine country cuisine inspired by the seasons, much of which comes from their own herb and vegetable garden, combined with locally sourced meat, wild game and fish. The ranch offers members the opportunity to attend guest chef dinners and educational talks as well.

“Wing & Barrel Ranch sets out to stimulate the mind, body and palette with fishing, hunting, shooting sports, axe throwing, archery and all that the sporting lifestyle has to offer,” explains Anderson.

“The Salon Speaker Series stimulates the mind, with debate and discussions with makers, musicians, philosophers, architects + more. The palette is complimented by the Sonoma and Napa, California winemakers, amazing food, farm to table, water to table (local oyster and caviar program), field to table and more.”

We chatted with Darius Anderson, co-founder of Sonoma’s Wing & Barrel Ranch, on the club’s inspiration, culinary offerings, his vision, and more. Here’s what he had to say.

Where did the inspiration for Wing and Barrel come from?

Wing & Barrel Ranch’s co-founder, Mike Sutsos, Sr., and I are lifelong friends. We have spent our lives traveling the world following our passions — for shooting, exceptional food, fine wine and cigars. These experiences are where the vision for this extraordinary club was born — combining an enthusiasm for the sporting life and all that surrounds it.

Wing & Barrel Ranch brings together the best of the sporting culture and the Bay Area’s appreciation for food and wine. The Club was founded with a deep appreciation of the rugged landscape, hay fields and surrounding vine-covered hillsides, which represent the history of the land.

With views of the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountain ranges, Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo, the Club is a sanctuary where members can escape to the country. Wing & Barrel Ranch members keep the traditions of the sporting and hunting way of life alive and to ensure that future generations will be able to appreciate the land.

What are your main objectives with Wing & Barrel Ranch when it comes to preserving the traditions of the west?

Combining sportsmanship with fine wine and food, Wing & Barrel Ranch offers members a chance to reconnect with the rich history of the land and fully appreciate the majestic beauty of the Sonoma Valley. Wing & Barrel Ranch preserves the traditions of the sporting way of life.

The ranch offers a world-class hunting lodge, acres of seasonal bird hunting, year-round sporting clays, fishing, customized shooting instruction, dog training and boarding. This is accented by Vintner Member gatherings, fine dining and travel programs as additional benefits to membership.

How long had you had this vision of opening a place like this up?

Wing & Barrel Ranch is the most prestigious private club on the West Coast, located in the heart of Sonoma and Napa Valleys. The property is designed as a full sensory experience, transporting members back to their roots to reconnect with nature. Members of Wing & Barrel Ranch can shoot with California’s top winemakers at the West Coast’s ultimate sporting club.

No other club brings together so many of the world’s finest winemakers, giving members rare insight into the year’s harvest and future vintages. Wing & Barrel Ranch offers the only West Coast Sporting Clays course by acclaimed designer Chris Batha. The Vintners Shooting Grounds feature 15 fully automatic fields, each containing three shooting stations and offering over 90 target presentations.

Members are issued personalized pre-loaded Clay Cards for use at the digitally controlled shooting stations. Wing & Barrel Ranch offers the only state of the art pistol and rifle range in Sonoma and Napa. The range provides a safe and controlled environment to practice marksmanship with or without instruction.

How are women and children in particular important to this?

In order to have growth in the industry, both sport and location need to be embraced by mothers and daughters alike. WBR has created a family friendly environment when makes women more apt to join. WBR prioritizes women and girls to make sure they are inclusive at the club.

Food and wine is key to the experience at Wing and Barrel, tell us about how integral it is to the overall experience here.

Members gain access to a world of luxury outdoor experiences complemented with seasonally curated menus by James Beard Award-winning Chef Charlie Palmer and premier wines from the Club’s world-class vintner partners. At Wing & Barrel Ranch, members not only get access to the land, but the opportunity to enjoy a host of epicurean amenities sure to please the most discerning palate.

Members gain access to exceptional experiences with the Club’s vintner members. Opportunities are abundant with monthly Winemaker Series shoots, lunches and dinners. Winery members include notables such as A. Rafanelli, Chateau Montelena, CIRQ Estate, Hearst Ranch Winery, Michael Mondavi Family Estate, Ram’s Gate Winery, Silver Oak, Twomey and more.

What is the Winemakers Shooter series?

At Wing & Barrel, numerous curated experiences showcase the special role of these vintners. This is on display at the Winemakers Shooter series, which allows members to join the Club’s vintner partners on an upland bird hunt or a sporting clay shoot on the acclaimed Vintner Shooting Grounds. The outings end with a celebratory meal with wine pairings, plus a winery tour and dinner at one of resident chef Charlie Palmer’s two nearby restaurants.

Chef Charlie Palmer serves as a Culinary Advisor at Wing & Barrel Ranch. Influenced by his upbringing working in his family’s vegetable garden in upstate New York, Palmer is passionate for food grown from the land. Over his career, he has opened 13 notable restaurants across the country along with a growing collection of boutique hotels, each reflecting the local surroundings.

What inspires the food and drink menu? What are the culinary experiences like here?

Members enjoy lavish culinary offerings to suit an array of palates. Led by Executive Chef Victoria Acosta, who previously worked at The Restaurant at Meadowood, Wing & Barrel Ranch showcases an abundance of culinary delights inspired by the seasons. Working with Culinary Advisor Chef Charlie Palmer, Acosta showcases seasonal wine country cuisine for members.

Chef Acosta tends to an on-site herb and vegetable garden, incorporating the freshly grown produce into the culinary offerings. Menu offerings incorporate locally sourced meat, wild game and fish alongside seasonal fruits and vegetables to create exceptional wine country cuisine.

Recently, Wing & Barrel hosted the Van Winkle Family (of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon) for a weekend of hunting, sporting clays and a grand finale dinner. Additional guest chef dinners include Chef Rogelio Garcia – Michelin-starred California Chef + Top Chef alum, Chef Chris Consentino, Chef Tyler Florence, Chef Charlie Palmer, Chef Matt McCallister, and Chef Laura Cole.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @cheycheyfromthebay for more of my adventures in food and travel!

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