Wine Country: Dry Creek Valley

WP_20130215_027To yield 2 1/2 perfect days in Sonoma County, add one part gorgeous weather, two parts luscious wine, three parts incredible food, and a final dash of serendipitous encounters.  Stir well and season to taste.

Even our travel day on our trip out to California was great.  Our flight was on time, our seats not too horrible, and Delta served everyone on board champagne and chocolates in honor of Valentines Day.  Once we finished battling traffic up from SF, we found an impromptu tasting of Gary Farrell’s awesome boutique pinots awaiting us at the hotel.

The evening wrapped up with a wild boar chop at Scopa in Healdsburg that was one of the most delicious, juicy cuts of meat I’ve been served anywhere.

WP_20130215_022Jet-lagged, we were up and at ’em early the next day.  A breakfast of fresh huckleberry scones and yogurt at our B & B (the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville) set us up right for our first tour and tasting at Ridge – home of one of the famed winners of California wines over French ones in the 1976 Judgement of Paris.

Ridge hasn’t been slacking since then and the Zins were delicious.  We also ended up making friends with our fellow tasters, two nurses from SF up in the Dry Creek Valley for the day.  They just happened to be going to the same winery as us next (Preston), where one of the girl’s grandfather was a wine club member.  They invited us along for their private tour of Preston’s sustainable farm and we ended up spending the whole afternoon together.

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It was a perfect day — bright sun, blue skies, warm weather.  The farm was beautiful, full of frolicking lambs and chickens.  Oh, and the wine was as wonderful as last year.  We bought a case and they even gave us the wine club discount on it because of our new buddies.  Thanks, Evan and Mel! WP_20130215_040

Dinner that night at the Farmhouse Inn’s Michelin starred restaurant was a relaxing end to the day.  Or, almost the end.  Upon returning to our room, we found the staff had kindled a fire in our wood burning fireplace and laid out all the essentials to make s’mores.

As we woke before dawn the next day, we wondered if Day Two could possibly top Day One.  After breakfast (lemon poppy seed muffins and citrus salad) at the Farmhouse, we headed up to Armstrong Redwood Forest to walk off some of the calories we’d been wolfing down.  It was freezing cold, but silent, still, and peaceful in the woods.

To warm up, we drove over to J Vineyards for a tasting of their sparkling wines paired with a three course lunch.  Our tasting buddies this time were fellow New Yorkers.

WP_20130215_011There were two big problems with the tasting at J.  First, the wines were really, really good.  Second, the pours were big.  You do the math.  We had to spend about an hour and a half in the parking lot sobering up before we could drive back to the Farmhouse.  However, I suppose if the day’s biggest inconvenience is having to push your spa appointment back and being “stuck” in a beautifully landscaped setting amidst vines under a warm sun for a few hours…well, life isn’t too bad.

The day seemed like it might end on a downbeat, as our dinner at locally popular Zazu restaurant was a bit of a miss (bad service and mediocre food)…but then we got back to our room and found freshly baked cookies and milk waiting for us.

WP_20130215_003We woke this morning to a deep and lovely fog, as well as the plaintive cries of Charlotte, the Farmhouse cat.  As we pack up, she watches us from her perch on the end of the bed, occasionally licking her paw in contentment.  I know how she feels.

Today we head east to Carneros.  Assuming our stomachs can keep up with our itinerary, we’ve got two more days of excessive eating and drinking.  Wish us luck!

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