700+ pictures later, I 'm back from vacation. 5 days in wine country with my husband. A personal/pleasure trip with professional overtones (and perks), as my husband is "in the trade".
As the effects of so much good food, good drink (wines and of course, a beer or two), fresh air and sunshine wear off; I've been slogging through the pictures trying to figure out how to organize a blog post,a trip review. Realize that *a* blog post won't cut it, but probably neither will posting 700 pictures - which even with editing out the crap ones is still close to 600. Decided on four posts:
- Part 1. Sonoma
We'd flown into San Francisco on an evening flight, a delayed evening flight, arriving close to 11pm, and spending the night in the airport area. The San Francisco morning proved cool and foggy making conditions for viewing and picture taking at the Golden Gate Bridge somewhat less than ideal.
However, as we drove north the fog cleared, and by the time we arrived at Sonoma-Cutrer winery, for our first appointment/tour of the trip, the weather was perfect. Located in the rolling hills west of 101 at Windsor, Sonoma-Cutrer is known for their chardonnays, which are done in a Burgundian style. For the last few vintages they have been producing Pinot Noir, staying true to the Burgundy theme. We were met by Scott, the tour center director, who first took us through the vineyards, explaining their trellis styles, philosophy and general winery history.
All around us the views were stunning.
Next up a quick winery tour, where the workers were busy preparing for harvest; cleaning and moving barrels.
Finally, Scott took us through the wines. These have been some of my favorites since I sold them in my Kentucky distributor days in the late 90's. It was a treat to sit out on their patio overlooking the tournament croquet courts (who knew the North American Croquet championships were played here each year - not I, not until this day).
Sonoma-Cutrer has an excellent line-up of wines. Until recently, they were only open to the trade. Our tour was arranged as members of the trade - so I'm unsure what the public sees on their tours. Nonetheless, if you love California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown and produced in a Burgundian style, I highly recommend a visit!
Leaving Sonoma-Cutrer, we headed west out River Road toward Guerneville to Korbel Champagne Cellars where we were staying for the next two nights in their vineyard guest house. I'd stayed in this house in '95 or '96 while on a trip with the KY distributor - the only female manager on the trip, I had the house to myself, while the men stayed in the larger guest house. I love Korbel, not only for their méthode champenoise champagnes, but also for their gardens (more on those in part 3). The vineyard house is surrounded by a small portion of these gardens.
Korbel has a rich history with the Korbel brothers immigrating to California in the late 1800's, fleeing Habsburg rule in Czechoslovakia. Originally purchasing the land for the timber, they first moved into brandy making, and then champagnes. Both of which they still produce today. The tour offers glimpses of both the history of the Korbel family (which includes the first female winery president in California) and the true process of making champagne known as méthode champenoise. And of course, samples of their excellent wines. On property is an excellent deli with ample picnic area, a charming gift shop, and the not to be missed opportunity for garden tours. Korbel - for the champagne lover, brandy fan, or gardener, it is a must visit.
While in Sonoma, we enjoyed several great meals, two in Bodega Bay - dinner at the Duck Club and lunch at Lucas Wharf.
We were charmed by the historic railroad district of Santa Rosa - home of Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz. Here we had a fabulous dinner at Lococo's Cucina Rustica.