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.
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.
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.
Since 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.
We 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!