Road trip: Sonoma

Mike has the day off work today, so we thought we should do something fun with our long weekend. The Napa/Sonoma area is only about a 45-minute drive for us, so we thought, why not?

We started off by driving to Santa Rosa for lunch at the Russian River Brewing Company. It seemed like a great place to take a group of people. Lots of fun and great beers. We took home a growler of Pliny the Elder. All the beers there have great names.

Then we started making our way through the wineries up there. We didn’t really have a plan (which is a good idea since there are so many options up there), but we had fun just stopping wherever we felt like it.

We tasted a few wines at St. Francis, and bought a Cabernet Franc to take home. Being a winery newbie I didn’t realize that there’s quite a price difference between the shelf at Trader Joe’s and a local place up there (or even any of the other wineries I’d been to previously). But it’s fun to save up and build your collection.

Did I mention it was pretty much the most gorgeous and perfect day ever? We really did have to pinch ourselves.

Next we went to Chateau St. Jean, where we discovered that we need a clementine tree. Since they grow in pots they don’t even take up that much space.

This winery has a picnic area, where you can grab a seat on an adirondack chair and look out at the vineyards and mountains. (Note to friends and family – the guest room is ready for you anytime…)

Finally, we stopped at a smaller place, Mayo Family Winery, where we got a better deal on a huge tasting. They had some pretty unusual varieties there, and we ended up getting a sparkling wine, of all things, just because we pretty much never buy them normally.

Pretty close to there is Jack London State Park, which we didn’t have time to visit (like everything else around there, it closes at 5), but I’m putting it on my list to return to. I just love the gnarly, moss-covered trees back there, and I think it would be a great place for a hike.

Around sunset, we drove into Sonoma. The guy at the last winery said that businesses on the town square there are open later. We looked around at the shops and restaurants, which kind of reminded me of a place like Aspen or Estes Park (frumpy clothing and fudge, mainly), and then we picked a really good Mexican place for dinner.

There’s quite a bit of history down there, including the Mission and a general’s home. I’m thinking we’ll be back again to explore more, and then I want to see Napa as well.

When I got home I was dying to watch “Sideways”, which I have on DVD. It was as funny as I remembered, and much more meaningful after a trip to wine country.