Sonoma Sausage – Bratwurst with a Fan Base

Goodlifer: Sonoma Sausage - Bratwurst with a Fan Base

It’s not very often that I get excited about bratwurst. It’s not bad, but as a rule it’s not the kind of food that makes me jump up and down. Of course, that was before I tried the bratwurst from Sonoma Sausage. It was perfectly seasoned and had obviously been made with good-quality ingredients and by someone with know-how. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, Sonoma Sausage had been selling sausage to a devoted fan base since 1981, long before I’d ever heard of them.

Ever hear of a phone call leading to a career change? It happened to Vance Sharp III, President and CEO of the company. One day, his accountant called to ask if he would be interested in an investment opportunity. He initially said no. But he checked out the products of that investment opportunity, which turned out to be Sonoma Sausage, and the idea of making sausages seemed interesting. While he had no previous experience in sausage-making, Sharp had lived in Europe for two decades, during which time he had developed a palate for fine food and wine (he’s also the proprietor of Sharp Cellars). Sharp discovered he had eaten the company’s sausages before without knowing who had made them, and he knew they made an excellent product. Before you could say “kielbasa”, he was in charge of the business.

Andoille Sausage & Polish Kielbasa.

Andoille & Polish Kielbasa.

Mr. Sharp tells me he doesn’t have a favorite sausage; his preference varies according to the day and his mood. When I asked him to name the most challenging part of sausage-making, he replied that the toughest aspect is “putting together the whole package”. You must start with great ingredients in the correct proportions and blend them properly. The meat must maintain its natural character. The casing has to be just right, neither too hard nor too soft. Sharp compares a sausage casing to a wine barrel, nothing that the both are “vessels”. They hold everything together until the proper time comes to enjoy the end product. What a great analogy!

Hot Italian & Hawaiian Portuguese (TM).

Hot Italian & Hawaiian Portuguese (TM).

If you’re not looking for bratwurst, no problem (actually, if you’re not looking for this bratwurst, you need to change your mind). But Sonoma Sausage has enough varieties to keep even the most ardent sausage consumer happy. The Chicken Apple, made with organic apples, sounds wonderful. If you’re attempting to spice up your life, try the Hot Italian, the Andouille, or the Hawaiian Portuguese(TM). Yes, you read that correctly: Hawaiian Portuguese. Coarsely ground pork, white wine, and spices combine to give what the company calls a “sweet heat”.

Chicken Apple Sausage & Sonoma Spicy Dogs.

Chicken Apple Sausage & Sonoma Spicy Dogs.

There are even Sonoma Spicy Dogs, skinless franks made of pork and beef. There’s no retail store, but online ordering is available (with a $35 minimum). Most sausages are available in both smaller packages and bulk quantities. For complete details, check out the website. Late summers are perfect for firing up the ol’ BBQ.

Top photo by Fesoj, Creative Commons.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
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