Let's see where I left off...oh yes, we were just getting on our way North from Berkeley to Santa Rosa, to check into our next hotel and explore a bit of wine country on the way. We stayed at the Hilton Sonoma County and it was a pretty little place, with an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, which as soon as we were done putting our bags down, we were jumping into. It was a pretty full day, what with the 7.5 mile trail run, closing of summit, and drive north - so the pool and hot tub was a great way to unwind and lounge out a bit.
We started our time in Sonoma County out right, with a trip to Glen Ellen Inn for dinner and our first taste of CA wine (of the trip of course). The dinner was top notch, the Inn was cozy and the service was great...oh and the cocktails and wine weren't too bad either.
J and I ordered the Italian fish stew, which was top notch, and well presented as a plus.
Monday morning we met up with Ken, from Platypus Wine Tours, at our hotel to start our expedition through Santa Rosa (Dry Creek Valley) wine country - mainly private estate tours in this part of the region. I have used Platypus before, for a wine tour of Sonoma County and had an absolutely phenomenal time, so I convinced the ladies to book them again. Ken had prepared us a picnic lunch and a cooler of water for our trip, and we left the hotel with his words of wisdom "it's ok to not finish every glass, or else you are going to be hammered, so remember to PACE yourself" - see wine touring is kind of like running a marathon - it can take 4 or 5 hours to conquer miles of terrain and carbs.
First stop, Harvest Moon Vineyard. We paired each wine with a different cheese or chocolate, and the favorite for me was the Dry Sparkling Gewürztraminer paired with the manchego cheese, but I unfortunately did not snag a bottle. I wanted to pace my bottle purchases so I didn't end up with half of wine country and no way to get it all home! The woman helping us with the tasting was fun and laid back, we didn't feel like we were being ignorant or wine-snobbed out, which was comforting, since none of us know a whole lot about the complexity of each wine...we just wanted to see what we could learn, taste some good wine, and have some fun (not to spoil the story, but mission accomplished...)
Hook n Ladder Winery, right next door to Harvest Moon. This was a nifty barn full of wine barrels and old firemen T-shirts left as memories of the firemen from all over the country who have come to visit this winery. We spotted the Boston shirt right away, but were more interested in getting our second tasting of the day in and taking pics with the towering pile of barrels. I had some success here though, and brought home a great Cabernet mix, The Tillerman.
Third stop = lunch stop. Ken had set it up so that were picnic lunching during our time at the third estate vineyard, Foppoli. Foppoli is a not a wide-spread wine to the best of my knowledge, but the retail production was started a few years ago by one of the younger sons in the family in his young 20's (he is still 29, or at least that is what he told us). So while we dined on turkey sandwiches and brownies, Dominic (the young owner), told us the history of his family's involvement with wine making, which dated back much further into northern Italy, and then in CA around the time of prohibition, to selling their grapes to other vineyards in the area instead of making their own wine, all the way to him re-starting the wine making process in 2005.
His grapes grow on this really pretty and expansive farm, with cows, donkeys, roosters, the whole nine yards! I picked up a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc here, but I am not going to lie, Dominic was not my favorite person on this trip - he was pretty full of himself and very "markety" if that makes sense, but we somehow managed to agree to meet back up with him later in the evening to show us the area and where we should go for dinner - but more on that later. After many stories and way too much time spent at "lunch" we had burned through our time allotted to the fourth winery (we were supposed to go to 5, and only made it to 4) and had to go straight to the final estate, La Czar Vineyards.
|The owner's backyard view at La Czar...not too shabby!|
|Final shot I had of the night, at Bear Republic Brewery for pre-dinner beers - I enjoyed a Racer 5 pint...mmmm|
|J and I with the view of the bridge|
|Ashley and Julia at the top of one of the Marin Headlands hills|
|On top of the world!|
|And of course the Sea Lions at Fisherman'd Wharf, no trip to San Fran would be complete without this picture!|
And that my friends, was my Cali trip in a nutshell! Thank you Luna and Clifbar & Co. for bringing us out there for three days of fun-filled activities and info, and thank you northern California wineries for making such yummy beverages and scenic drives :)
Do you drink wine? Have you ever been on a tour?
Are you a red or white kind of person?
all the time, I am a red person, but I do enjoy a nice chilled prosecco or suavignon blanc in the summer months.