Friday, December 23, 2016

Last day of our Sonoma weekend

We woke up Monday morning to clearing and the promise of a sunny day.  Finally!  

After our visit to Flying Goat coffee, we headed to Westside Road and our first tasting appointment of the day, MacRostie Winery.  

So excited for blue skies and sunshine!

The winery is situated beautifully on a hill surrounded by vineyards. It was still a little brisk so we opted for a table inside, but next to the patio along the windows.  

The interior of the tasting room was lovely, and views were just gorgeous!

They were also set up where you do a tasting sitting at a table, and they bring the wines to you, rather than standing at a bar.  It was quite enjoyable to soak up the beautiful surroundings and sunshine. 

They produce mostly Chardonnay's and Pinot Noirs.  While we aren't Chardonnay fans, we loved their Pinots - even bought 6 to serve at Thanksgiving!  

I also became fast friends with their adorable winery puppy, who I didn't want to let go!  I threatened to take him home with us.

A wonderful visit to MacRostie.  If you're a fan of Pinots, definitely put it on your list.

Leaving MacRostie, we headed north just a bit to VML Winery.  They are the sister to Truett Hurst who we visited the day before.  (They're actually moving as I type this, and their last day at this location is December 23.  According to their website, they will be 'camping' in the old barrel room at Truett Hurst over on Dry Creek Road for a bit.)  

While Truett Hurst focuses on Zinfandels, VML focuses mostly on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  They make a few one off wines such as a Syrah, a Gewurztraminer, Sauv Blanc, etc.  We really liked their wines, and they're at a good price point, so...surprise, we joined our final club of the trip. 

After our last winery of the weekend, we headed to another favorite restaurant, Diavola in the teeny town of Geyserville.  

We sat at the bar and ordered a few things to share - cheese and meat plate, beet salad, and a pizza.  Everything was delicious!

A perfect end to our always-too-quick Sonoma getaway.  We drove south, M dropped me off in the city and headed to the airport.  Another wonderful weekend in Sonoma wine country!  Already looking forward to the next time we can get out there. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sonoma weekend getaway, day 2

Sunday morning, once we lounged a bit, we walked 3 blocks away to our favorite Santa Rosa coffee shop, Flying Goat Coffee.  A couple of scones and coffees, and we were ready for our morning. 

Winery stop #1 in the Dry Creek Valley area - Nalle Winery.

Another cloudy morning, but luckily no rain yet.  Nalle has mostly Zinfandels, but also a delicious rose.  We decided to join their club, too, as we could pick out our first shipment while standing in the winery.  They surprising had some rose left, and gave us a great discount and shipped a case for a penny, so we stocked up for next summer!

Next we headed to Timber Crest Farms, a farm and wine collective in Dry Creek Valley.  

Here we ducked into Papapierto Perry for a revisit - we were there years ago, but hadn't been back since then.  They make very good Pinot Noirs...a bit pricey, but very good.

They have a beautiful little tasting room that was bustling for the gray day. 

Once we finished our tasting, we walked across the parking lot to the Family Wineries tasting room.  Here they have wines from 6 very small wineries - a great opportunity for the winemakers to sell their wines without the overhead of having their own tasting room.  We went specifically for the Dashe Cellars wines, but enjoyed trying a couple of the others as well. 

We were starving by this point, so headed back down the hill to one of our favorite spots, the Dry Creek General Store, for lunch.  This is a must stop place for any trip to Dry Creek.  Delicious sandwiches and salads, plus a beautiful little store full of local goods, cookbooks, and wines.  

We enjoyed our sandwiches outside (under cover as it was starting to rain!) and watched all of the people come and go - this place can get pretty crowded, especially on the weekends. 

We had to stop at one of our favorite wineries while in town, Kokomo, so back to the Timber Crest Farms we went.  Since our last visit, they've opened a beautiful space for club members only, which we really liked.  Their club is great, we really enjoy getting our Kokomo shipments, and they produce  wine from many different varietals.  Their rose is possibly my favorite rose ever.  

Sun, rain, sun, and rain...we huddled inside and tasted several of their wines while the weather outside flipped back and forth.

One final stop for the day - a return visit to Truett-Hurst.  We stopped in there on one of our last visits, and have enjoyed a few of the bottles that we brought home since then, so decided to stop by again.  It was very fun - the folks working in the tasting room were just delightful.  They set us up with a long line of their different Zins to do a side by side tasting.  We liked them all!  So much guessed it...we joined their club, too!  We've already gotten one shipment, which included porcini salt!

Once we finished our wine tastings for the day, we headed to downtown Healdsburg to wander around a bit.  We ducked in and out of several of the cute stores along the square, before stopping to get a bite to eat.

Usually when we're in Healdsburg, we bar hop a bit - get a bite or 2 at one place, then move onto the next.  This evening we started at the newer restaurant, Chalkboard.  This place was adorable, and had a great cocktail list and menu.  I wanted one of everything!

We had a few different things, including the pork belly biscuits.  Everything was delicious!

Once the rain stopped, we headed over to a favorite, Willi's Seafood Bar.  We sat at the bar, had a couple more bites, and chatted with the guys working the raw bar.  

Another fantastic day in wine country, we headed back to the hotel in Santa Rosa and turned in for the night.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sonoma, here we come!

In October, I had a business trip to San Francisco planned, and we had a free weekend right before we decided to sneak out of DC and spend a couple days in Sonoma!  It had been a few years since we'd been there, and we were pining to visit.  So, early Saturday morning we were up and on a plane, and up to Sonoma by lunchtime.   

We went straight to Sebastopol for lunch at Handline.  

The brand new casual restaurant by Sonoma restaurateur Lowell Sheldon is in an old Foster's Freeze drive through building.  We were starving and the collection of fish tacos, fresh unique salads and soft serve ice cream were perfect.  

Now, time for wine!

It was chilly and cloudy, not the beautiful sunny day we'd hoped for!  But that didn't stop us!  The first place we had an appointment was Emeritus Vineyards.  Many of the wineries are moving to a more 'sit down tasting' experience.  You make an appointment, come in and they have a spot set up for you on couches or at a table and chairs, rather than the traditional stand up bar tasting.  The random collection of furniture inside was beautiful, and I'm sure on a warm, sunny day when they can open the doors right to the vineyard, it's just lovely.

Mostly Pinot Noirs, the wines were nice, but very expensive.  For the price, we prefer others throughout the county better.  The 'host' we had was nice, and knowledgeable about the wines and their process, but also seemed to have a very strong affinity to Rodney Strong winery, and seemed to almost talk more about their wines than Emeritus!  Anyway, after our 4 wine tasting, we paid our fee and headed to the next place.  While the setting was lovely, and wines ok, for the price I'm not sure we'll be back. 

Next stop: Inman Family Vineyards.  The grounds looked beautiful with the tasting room barn right in the vineyard...but with the gross weather, we snuggled inside of the bar at the tasting bar.  The gentleman working that day was really great - super nice and friendly, and knew a ton about the winery.  

We loved almost everything we tried.  Lots of great Pinots, and a sparkling, too!  We decided to join their wine club.  Usually when we travel to wine country, we bring back 2 cases of wine as luggage...but since we were traveling separately, and I was in SF for a few more days, and M had a red eye and was heading straight to the office...we decided checking a bag wasn't worth it.  So instead...we decided to join a few new clubs!  The wine would be shipped a month or so later, and we can cancel at any time.  So, Inman was our first new club!

A break in the rain made for a perfect selfie-op!

Our last winery stop for the day was Balletto Winery.  The place was mobbed - quite a change from being the only people at Inman!  While the tasting bar was crazy, we ended up chatting with a few of the folks on either side of us.  The wines were pretty good - hard to compare to Inman.  We ended up grabbing a bottle, and heading out. 

Now - time for beer!  It was pouring, so we raced into Cooperage - a brewery that the guy at Inman told us about.  

We ordered a full tasting list.  The beers were tasty!  M really liked them - lots of IPAs, so not my favorites, but he really enjoyed them. 

After Cooperage, we went back to the hotel to freshen up and called an Uber to head into downtown Santa Rosa for dinner.  We went to Bird and the Bottle, and grabbed a table in the teeny bar area.  

Enough wine for the day, we ordered a couple of delicious cocktails and a few small plates.  My cocktail even came with a little refill bottle!

The meatballs were outstanding - best thing we had all night!  

After dinner, we were glad the rain had finally eased, and we walked the couple of blocks to the famous Russian River Brewing Co. It's one of our favorite spots in Sonoma, and it's not a trip to Santa Rosa without going to Russian River!  We tried a few different beers, people watched, and talked about our day.  Great end to our first day in Sonoma!