Sonoma Day 5 – Gone to the Dogs

Part of me wanted to title this “The Dog Days of Sonoma” but I decided to keep the same title format for the trip series. Like almost every time we travel (when it’s not the dead of winter) the Florida heat follows us. This trip was no different as the temperatures soared near 100. Even as a “dry heat” this was too much for us to spend too much time outside, so we decided to fill our day with indoor activities.

Up first was one of the only non-wine things I *really* wanted to do on this trip, the Charles Shultz Museum – aka Snoopy! I swear I partly learned to read because of the Peanuts cartoons, and I loved the Peanuts specials that would air every holiday. We got to immerse ourselves in all thing Peanuts for a few hours, and enjoyed the air conditioning while we were at it.

Not dog related, but put on the agenda for the day for the cellar tour, we visited Korbel for lunch then took the tour after. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the tour so much because it was historically interesting or if it was the coolness of the old caves. Either way, it was a nice way to spend a hot afternoon.

Bob gets all the credit for our last stop of the day. He found Mutt Lynch Winery when we were looking for ideas for the trip. We wanted good zinfandel and a fun experience so we added the tasting room in Windsor to our list. I am so glad we did. Brenda Lynch, the owner/winemaker made us feel right at home as she sat and talked with us while she poured from the tasting selection (and off the list too …. She was just incredible). Her zinfandel and primitivo were amazing, and her rose was truly out of this world. We spent far longer there than intended, but had a great time talking wine and dogs. We are super excited about the case of wine that is coming from here as soon as the weather breaks (say, around October). This is a definite go back to spot for us when we make it out to Sonoma again.

Despite the triple digit temperatures (the car registered 103) it was a great day.

Sonoma Day 4 – My Perfect Day

It is rare that a day work out so well, lives up to the anticipation, and is truly as amazing as it is in one’s mind. But this day, this day was pretty much my day on this trip and it was about as perfect as I could have hoped.

I love gardens: botanical gardens, rose gardens, meditation gardens, etc. You name a garden and I’m going to try to visit when I get there. This day we, on one of the hottest days they have here (our car read 99, the bank sign read 109, either way it was hot) went to Quarryhill – a botanical garden that specializes in rare Asian species of plants. Every plant here is propagated by seed and the gardens are allowed to grow fairly wild. No topiary here. There was lots of shade and a few good breezes to keep the walk mostly comfortable despite the heat.

After the gardens, we headed to Sonoma Square. I was pretty excited (read school girl giddy) to be going to the tasting room for Bedrock Wine Company. This is my go-to winery for a few reasons – Old Vine Zinfandel, consistently good wine, and a mission to save historic vineyards and vines. The history teacher in me wants to preserve these treasures, but if the wine wasn’t good, I wouldn’t drink it no matter the mission. However, the wine is great. It’s amazing and it always makes me happy to pour a glass. Take this level of excitement about the wine, and add going to the historic General Hooker House to taste these wines. Yes, I was super excited and didn’t try to hide it. Kristen, our host, was amazing and seemed to love the wines, the wine maker, and the mission as much as anyone. The whole experience was incredible and I feel so lucky to have been able to do it.

We ended the day with dinner at a restaurant on the Pacific at sunset. The food was fine, but the view was amazing and it was a great way to end such an incredible day. .

Sonoma Day 3 – North Coast Food & Wine Festival

In April I was browsing through Google’s recommended reads for me and came across a food and wine festival in Sonoma. I looked at it thinking, like most events I see that interest me, it would occur at a time when I was not in the area. To my surprise, this event was the weekend we would be in Sonoma, so I showed it to Bob who was completely on board with this idea, and picked up tickets.

One of my thoughts with this was that it would give us a chance to taste far more wine from different wineries than we could do on our own. There were some big names there like Francis Ford Copola and St. Francis wineries as well as tiny producers who have no tasting rooms or websites. The unifying theme from these wineries was that they all participated in and were rated in the Press Democrat blind tasting. Each winery is from northern California and the range of wines was pretty amazing. Along with some stunning wine, there were 25 area restaurants showcasing a wide variety of food. Special props to the Perch and Plow for the most amazing jackfruit slider! I went back three times. Seriously, three times.

We love our annual Wine Walk in Sarasota, but this event – from logistics to pacing to quality and variety – outdid anything we experience in Florida. I’d make the trip back just to do it again.

Sonoma Day 2 – Wine Tour

I have very mixed feelingss about group tours. I dislike crowds and like to wander, which you can’t generally do on a group tour. I like to find places that aren’t super crowded with tourists (I am perfectly good with most tourist areas and am not saying I need places no tourists go – I am a tourist so that would be ridiculous- but I like places that are not on the first page of the guide books) but with over 400 wineries in Sonoma, we thought starting out with a wine tour might be s good way to go.

We didn’t know what kind of wineries to expect – big names, large fancy facilities, small family wineries or a mix – but we went with an open attitude and lots of water to drink in between.

Talk about impressed and right up our ally! The tour had nine of us total on it (I can deal with nine) and we went to super small, family owned and run wineries. All four had something unique about them, but two stood out to us. MoniClaire and Viszlay are really tiny places that are producing amazing wine. The families who operate the wineries led us through their wines and showed us their vines. I loved it when someone would ask where a wine was grown and the answer was pointing to an area or a few rows with a “right there” as the answer. You really don’t get much more personal than that.

Day two is another how late can I stay up day. I’ got better but was definitely waking up on east coast time.


I Made a Sweater!!!

A while back I asked Val if she wanted me to knit her something. I was thinking a scarf, a throw blanket … you know, something easy. She asked for a lab sweater. I counter offered with a shawl as sweaters seemed hard and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that or not. She said she would wait, was not in a rush, but would prefer a sweater. Sigh. Time to learn how to make a sweater.

I scoured my usual knitting sites and found a written pattern I could buy that had a video of the whole process. Hmm … possibilities. The level was “confident beginner” so I thought sure – I’ll give it a try. However, I did not want to make something for Val that I had never made before, so I decided to make one sweater for myself and if if turned out okay, I’d make another one for her.

Since this is knit flat – aka not in the round or connected – it seemed pretty doable. I was a little worried about blocking, fitting and sewing, but over a few months, I slowly knit up the sweater and then pieced it together.

I was pretty proud of myself when it was all done. It wasn’t perfect – I had some difficulty with seaming the sleeves to the body of the sweater, but I think it worked out okay. The big test was taking it on the road – California – and it was perfect! Comfortable and roomy, but not really bulky, it made the cool mornings much more pleasant, and the first day of the trip (top down driving up the coast in 50-something temperatures) not so bad.  And, I happen to think, it looks pretty good. Not bad for a first attempt at a sweater.


Sonoma Day 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

It’s been a while since Bob and I did a big trip. Over the last few years we took a long weekend here and these, but no week-long vacations. Lots of reasons, but none of them important. A while back (think August) I was browsing the Delta site and came across flights to San Francisco that we had the points to cover. We jumped on this since usually the points cost of the flights are much higher. With that one bit of luck and one quick decision, our vacation began to take shape.

img_20190606_100645Since Bob does the vast majority of the driving, I put him in charge of renting the car and he went with a convertible. He figured we’d be in beautiful country and with georgous weather, so we might as well enjoy it.

And did we on day one! Bob wanted to drive Rt. 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway – and so we had a bit of breakfast in Sausalito and then headed up Rt. 1 with the top down. It was breath taking. The mountains, the sea, the trees … it is so different from Florida and we loved it. We stopped at Pt. Reyes seashore and saw the seals. We would have stayed longer but the very cold, very strong wind encouraged us to go back to the car and continue the drive.

img_20190606_140602We stopped at a winery – Ft. Ross – to see if we could do a tasting. The website says by appointment, but we didn’t have cell reception and couldn’t call. They were super nice and accommodated us with no reservation. It was a great way to start our vacation. Really good wine, including a Pinotage which I loved and never expected to find in California, nice people and fantastic views.

It was off to the Bed & Breakfast and a vague attempt to stay past 8pm. The glass of wine with dinner did not help, but I looked cute in the sweater I made!

Rosie Rose

  • Producer: Mutt LynchWinery
  • Location: California
  • Year: 2018
  • Type: Rose of Zinfandel
  • Price estimate: $19
  • Tasting notes: Salmon-pink in color with a little peach and mineral on the nose. Round, silky mouthfeel with flavors of peach, apricot, strawberry and white cherry give way to a bright middle with good acid and a mineral note. A touch of salinity and strawberry on the finish, the rose might lean towards sweet, but it isn’t. Dry, but fruit forward.
  • Conclusions: I love a good rose and there are lots of okay roses trying to be good. Thus one is just out and out great. It is easy to drink, but interesting and complex. There are a few different layers to this wine and this is a wine that gets me to pop open the bottle when I’m just not sure if I really want wine. It’s that good.
  • Notes: Bob and I had this at the Mutt Lynch tasting room in Windsor, California on our Sonoma trip. (Highlights from that trip should be posted soon.) Bob found the winery during his search and we decided to try it because of their zinfandel and the dog theme. I am a sucker for animals so a winery that combines wine and furry creatures is worth trying. The wines, especially the rose, are incredible. Brenda Lynch, the owner, wine maker, sales manager etc., got me to try and enjoy varietals I would normally pass over such as Cabernet and Petit Syrah. We tasted for a good long while, enjoying the great company of the owner and her phenomenal wines. Next time we are in Sonoma we are going back and I don’t want to tell anyone how much wine we had shipped from her vineyard. Worth the trip and any pennies spent there.

Oh, Arthas

We knew Arthas was never going to be the easiest dog given his origins and the sight issue. The lack of sight is definitely not a problem with him, but his obsession with food makes a few things difficult. Now that he has learned to open the pantry, he has taken it to a whole new level.

A while back Arthas got into the pantry and pulled out two bags of chips, took them outside (he is considerate in that regard), and ate both bags. The entirety of two bags of chips. This got us concerned, but we had never seen Arthas open the pantry door (Alinea does do it on occasion) so we were not too worried. I should have known.

We went out to dinner one night a few weeks ago.  Nothing unusual and we weren’t gone long, but when we came back, the pantry door was open and Arthas had done it again. this time peanuts. An entire jar (minus one handful I used in a recipe) of peanuts. He was so proud of himself; not sorry at all. Four days of calories in one evening (after eating his dinner I should point out).

img_20190523_192907At that point, I should have locked the pantry. I didn’t. I moved things to higher shelves (same as I did after the chips incident) and left it at that. Mistake. Huge mistake. In one week he managed to get a bag of aboro rice, a gallon of vegetable oil, several bottles of water from our hurricane supply, and a box of quick cook oats. He also managed to move cat food cans, a box of coffee and a glass jar of beans.

We have since the last incident added a hook latch to the pantry door, high enough that the dog and cats cannot get to it. So far this has stopped the pantry raids, but I’m waiting for the day I come home to the latch broken and more food eaten on the patio. It’s a good thing he is cute – and sweet.


Wine in a can

  • Producer: Trinchero Family Estates
  • Location: Modesto, CA
  • Year: NA
  • Type: Bubbly Rose
  • Price estimate: $3.25
  • Tasting notes: Bubbles reminiscent of soda – lots on the initial pour and they dissipate quickly. Pink in color – an unnatural pink, but not unpleasant to look at. Not as sweet as I expected, but sweeter than I usually drink. Mostly watermelon and strawberry for flavor with a slightly weird wang at the very beginning of each sip. That also dissipates quickly.
  • Conclusions: Not bad, but not what I would call good either. It is drinkable and perfectly acceptable for a summer sipper. I didn’t care for the carbonation but I can get past that.
  • Notes: I had heard a lot about wine in a can over the last year and wanted to try some, so when we were at Target the other day, I saw a four pack for about $10 and decided to go for it. This is not a can of wine I’m going to purchase again but it was fine.