Thursday, June 25, 2015

Anderson Valley

We drove through the Anderson Valley from Sonoma to Mendocino. What an amazing drive!
First stop was at the Hendy Woods State Park. More redwoods! This park is an excellent choice if you want fairly flat trails.

Next we stopped at Navarro Vineyards and Winery for a tasting and a picnic. It was a lovely setting and the 2013 Gewurztraminer was perfect for the warm day.

Next up was a tasting at Handley Cellars. It was on this visit that we decided our favorite whites now are from Anderson Valley. (The Pinot Noirs are also pretty good, so we'll need to do tasting comparisons with Willamette Valley Pinots.) The patio here was lovely.

As if this wasn't enough, the remainder of our drive was through the "Tunnel of Redwoods-to-the-Sea."

Sunday, June 21, 2015


We stayed in Healdsbug for our time in Sonoma Valley and now prefer it to the town of Sonoma--fewer tour buses, closer to many wineries, great restaurants.

We stayed at the Camellia Inn, a B&B with excellent breakfasts. Each room's door opens to the outside and I think this helped reduce the noise you usually get in those old homes.
We admired the beautiful homes and amazing gardens. The guy who lives in the first home below wanted to chat about his garden, world affairs, and anything else we would hang around for.

The Dry Creek General Store was certainly the place to be. They were filming a Food Network episode the day we were there.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dry Creek Vineyards

We loved exploring the vineyards in the Dry Creek area outside Healdsburg.

Preston Vineyards

We drove straight from the airport to Preston Vineyards, intrigued by the fact that they are a sustainable, working farm as well as a winery. Sure enough, there were chickens, lambs, and goats...

...and apple and olive trees, and gorgeous vineyards.

We had a wonderful picnic enjoying loganberries from their farmstand, local cheese, and the Preston Sauvignon Blanc Heritage 2013.

Arista Winery

Arista's unique setting consisted of a beautiful Japanese garden for strolling and picnicking.

Our favorites here were the Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the Banfield Old Vines Zinfandel.

Gracianna Winery

We visited this winery because it is across the street from Arista and has a stellar TripAdvisor rating. It is a small, family-owned winery with few vines of their own. I think we met the entire staff on the afternoon we were there.
We and the local couple we sat with agree that the wines are average and bland. However, the owner Trini has a plan, thus the high profile on TripAdvisor and the nice young kid from Iowa who manages their social media presence.

We noticed that almost all of the wineries do a brisk business in destination weddings, like our friends Bill and Janis attended recently. I'd be happy to attend any wedding in Sonoma County!
Toward closing time, there were about six of us sipping and relaxing when Trini invited us to see their home, which is fairly new. It was obvious that they had an amazing architect and were very involved in the design. It was a first-class, but not over-the-top, residence and we had a lot of fun hearing about his family and the artists whose amazing art was center-stage in the home. The home tour was definitely the highlight of this winery visit!

Sbragia Winery

The day I met Sally in Sonoma, Steve biked along Dry Creek up to Lake Sonoma. He stopped at Sbragia for a tasting and liked the Gamble Ranch Chardonnay. The Dry Creek area is simply gorgeous.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Armstrong Redwoods

We made a pilgrimage to as many redwoods as possible. First stop was Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, just west of  Healdsburg. The coastal redwoods are the tallest trees in the world.

This reserve contains Colonel Armstrong (1400 year old) and Parson Jones (310 feet tall).

These redwoods have amazing defenses that have allowed them to withstand droughts, fires, lightning, and insects for more than a millennium.

No wonder the Native Americans consider these trees sacred! We certainly felt like we were in a cathedral.

Sunday, June 07, 2015


Sally drove up to meet me in Sonoma for a quick visit. We walked around the square and chatted.

And then we headed to Sebastiani winery for a tasting and pizza (and more chatting!). I'm not a fan of Sabastiani's grocery wines, but the Old Vine Cabernet from a 54-year-old vineyard just a few blocks from Sonoma square was very good.

Ah, the good life in Cali! Thank you, Sally, for meeting up with me!!!