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! 

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