Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sonoma and Sonoma Coast

As we drove north into Sonoma County, we made our traditional stop at Costco for a pack of water and some snacks - they definitely come in handy during a week of wine tasting and we highly recommend getting both.  Once we arrived at the Fountain Grove Inn in Santa Rosa, we crashed and were asleep before 10pm...

...but that meant we were up by 5am!  But we took the early morning to finish up some work stuff that we both needed to get taken care of so we could enjoy the week.

By 9am we were pulling up to Freeman Winery for our tasting appointment, just on the outskirts of the Russian River Valley town of Sepastopol.  The fog is very prevalent in the mornings in Sonoma, and Wednesday was no different.

Nick met us at the doors to the cave, and was very nice and informative about the Freeman family, history and wines.  Their caves were beautiful, and we tasted 6 different wines.  He was extremely gracious and fun to spend an hour with. 

After stopping for a deliciously unhealthy McDonalds breakfast, we headed west to the coast.

While the sun had come out back in Sebastopol, when we got back out to Bodega and the coast, the fog was back...

After almost 2 hours on the road, up and down, left and right, winding around, driving on dirt roads, crossing bridges that we thought were going to crumble under us, and navigating a sign that said both THIS WAY and THAT WAY on the same post...we made it to Wild Hog Vineyard.

Winemaker and owner Daniel came strolling up from his home just across the way when we pulled in for our appointment.  My first question was how on earth did he get bottles delivered or a bottling truck back in there - and he said he doesn't.  He does everything in his pickup truck...

He's been making wine for 21 years...and had a production of about 4,000 cases until recently when he's trying to cut back to about 3.000.  Making 14 different wines, he does everything right on his property...including hand bottling.

This picture isn't great - but check this out.  See the thing under the window?  It's a bottle filler.  8 bottles at a time, it will pump the wine into them...then the thing on the left, it's a corker.  And the front machine puts the label on and then there's another piece that puts the foil on.  It's amazing that he bottles everything on this little system!

We spent about 3 hours with him, just talking about wine and life.  We truly enjoyed our afternoon with him, hearing stories about restaurants he's been to, wines he's made, his grown children, and his wine assistant.  It was a great afternoon.

That said...after the 2 hour trip back to civilization Westside Road...I'm not sure I need to venture to the coast again anytime soon.  It's not for the faint of heart...

But a quick visit at one of our favorites, Moshin, and we were feeling much better.  When we walked in, Tasting Room manager extraordinaire Sean took one look at us and grabbed 2 glasses, saying it would be better in just a minute, a poured us their Pinot Gris.  Apparently we looked a little ragged!

Sean remembered us from our previous visits.  We got to try all kinds of different things, comparing different vineyards of Pinot Noir and different vintages.  It was great fun, he's always good for a few laughs.  We also met Rick Moshin, the winemaker who started the winery in 1989.  Moshin's great - not only do they have awesome wines and fun people, they've donated to auctions that I run at our annual conference!

After closing down Moshin, we decided we were hungry and headed to Healdsburg.

In an attempt to keep these posts reasonable lengths, I'm going to break them up into days and nights separately...so hold onto the edge of your seat, there's more to come!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE all your pictures Lindsey! Great job!! And the stories are awesome too. Loved the one about Wild Hog bottling everything in that tiny facility. Very cool.