There are people who can go on vacation for weeks, sometimes months, at a time and never be ready to leave. I’m not like that. Over the years I’ve figured out that 5 to 6 days is best for me to be away, and anything longer than a week I just get cranky. I miss my furry creatures, I want my bed and my own kitchen. I want to be able to cook and I like just knowing which restaurants I can go to without scouring menus first.
When we first starting looking at this trip we picked the dates and length to be able to pay for the flight with miles. This meant we had a slightly longer vacation than is ideal for us, but decided it was worth it. So this is how we ended up with a day 7 instead of being home.
It did work out rather well, though. We had a fantastic breakfast at the B&B then headed out to the coast and up to Ft. Ross, an old Russian settlement north of where we were staying. The grounds were great, but we actually got to dip our toes in the (very cold) Pacific.
The views, the scenery, the vistas were just stunning, as much driving back on the Pacific Coast Highway as they were on the drive up. I wasn’t in love with the hairpin turns and sheer drops off the side of the road, but Bob was driving and totally enjoying himself.
As we made our way into Sausalito and then San Francisco for the night before a full day of travel home, we were ready to go. California was great, and if it was an easy drive out to Sonoma for us, I’d try to figure out a way to buy a little place off the beaten path. But, Florida is home and just too far for quick trips. We will be back, but maybe just for five days.
I wasn’t sure it could happen, but after all the great wine we had over the last few days, coupled with the scorching heat, I wasn’t up for wine. Temperatures continued to hover around 100, and I just didn’t want to be out in the heat and could not even think about drinking alcohol. Sad, but true.
We did start our day at a winery, but not for the wines. Our B&B hosts told us about a winery with an incredible garden so we decided to drive up north of Healdsburg and see the gardens. They were pretty incredible, but unfortunately half the garden was closed for maintenance. We enjoyed what we could, then headed into Healdsburg.
We wandered around Healdsburg for a little while, stopped into a yarn store (just cause) and took in some of the plaza area, but the lack of shade had us heading out of the town soon than we anticipated.
We did do something a little odd given the temperatures, but we headed to Armstrong Woods to meander through the redwoods. With all the shade, we had lower temperatures so it was a nice outing. I had not been through the redwoods since I went to Humboldt over 20 years ago. These trees were just as beautiful, and we really enjoyed the trails around the creeks and winding through the forest. It was a nice way to end the day.
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.
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. .
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.
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.