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.


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!


Been meaning to post a quick update, but have been doing such a good impersonation of a chicken with its head cut off that I haven’t found time – plus, its hard to type when you have little chicken feet 😉

Yesterday I escaped the bitter cold of New York and flew out to California for a long weekend in the Napa valley.  Now that I’m lying in bed in the pre-dawn darkness, hanging out with jet-lag as I adjust to Pacific time, I finally have my opportunity to blog.

So…here’s what’s been going on of late:

I turned 38 last weekend.  Which feels strange since I often catch myself thinking things like, “well, when I’m grown up, I will (fill in the blank)”.  So, let’s roll with ‘young at heart’, shall we?  It was a good birthday, including a tasty dinner out with friends who have been in our life well over a decade, nice presents (like a new computer monitor for this increasingly blind 38 year old and a Trogdor the Burninator T-shirt, which is made of awesome), and lots of love and good wishes from friends and family.

My novel BLOOD RED SUN also made the first cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (meaning it survived the hacking of 10,000 manuscripts down to 2,000).  Still a ways to go, but nice to be in the running a little longer.

Classes and course prep continue to swallow me whole, but I have carved out a little writing time here and there (including about 3 hours on the plane yesterday), and am happy to report that the light at the end of the tunnel of my revisions to ABSENT is growing substantially brighter.  Plus, I’m pretty happy with how the manuscript is shaping up.  I think this one has a real chance.

Finally, with a day off for President’s Day, Sid and I were able to sneak away for a 5 day trip to Napa.  We’ll be tasting fabulous wines and indulging in delicious food between now and next Tuesday.  If the slooooow internet connection here at our hotel in Forestville cooperates, I might even post an update or two.

That’s what’s new with me.  How about you?