Monday, November 17, 2008

West Coast Swing: Part II - Sonoma

After enjoying the incredible weather and all night seal sounds of Monterey Bay, me, the News Readin' Husband and our friends - Anne & Lee from Nashville, headed up to Sonoma for two nights.

We stayed at the Hotel El Dorado on the square in Sonoma.

The view of the square from our balcony

We were really excited about all of meals during our West Coast trip, but our dinners in Sonoma were anticipated gastronomic highlights.

The first evening we ate at the El Dorado Kitchen, conveniently located in our hotel.
Check out their menu here. We ate outside on the patio and it was perfect.

Our second day was completely devoted to seeing the fine Sonoma wineries and tasting wines, of course. We hired a driver - which was a little expensive but well worth it. We only had one vineyard that was an absolute must-visit and the rest of our itinerary we left up to Lou, our chatty driver.

First stop, Rodney Strong for a private tasting arranged by Anne. (Ooohhh...fancy.)

We then walked about 100 yards over to J Vineyards, where I fell in love with their 2006 Vin Gris. Amazing. And I really don't care for white wine...The best part about J Vineyards was our server, who was young, fun and not intimidating. We were so at ease, we walked out with 1/2 a case.

Next stop, Martin Ray Winery.
Martin Ray had a few different wines that Mr. News Readin' and I both liked. We also brought home this for a casual barbecue dinner or because it just looked cool:
They had the most amazing flowers lining the driveway at the vineyard. (Made me cringe to think about my leggy impatiens, still in my window boxes.)

Next stop, Sunce Winery & Vineyard, a recommendation from our driver. Funny how, after we purchased a few bottles - they "gave" him a few bottles to try. Hmmm...
They had a really cute dog named Obie. It made us miss Putter.

Tipsy, we ventured over to the Kunde Family Estate to get a tour of their caves and you guessed it - taste some more wine. Buzz kill...the caves were closed to tours. So, we just drank more. I loved hearing about how some of the vines were over 100 years old.

Pretty water feature at Kunde Family Estate

LinkTo think - it all starts with a bunch of these...

Last stop, Ravenswood Winery.
We enjoyed our full tasting in Adirondack chairs overlooking the mountains. Ahhh...finally totally relaxed.

Wait. What the hell does that say?!

Bottoms up! Quick exit of the rattlesnake sanctuary.

We were exhausted from all our swirling, sniffing and sipping. Nap, please.

We headed to dinner at The Girl and the Fig, located directly across from our hotel. I took the picture below while standing on our balcony.

Aside from being wedged between two tables of Howard Dean liberals (much to the dismay of Mr. News Readin'), we enjoyed a yummy brasserie-style dinner. Anne had the most amazing grilled cheese and I had a delicious arugula and fig salad.

I'm surprised we didn't leave Sonoma with gout.

We dropped our wine off at a bead store that doubles as shipping agent - illegally. Yay for us!

On to San Francisco...


Legallyblondemel said...

Lovely! That area is just so breathtaking. However, as poor Mr. News Readin discovered, it's best to keep one's conservative leanings close to the vest up there and just imbibe deeply and often.

You picked some great vineyards, too - J Brand is a particular favorite of mine.

TMW said...

I met Howard Dean one time. I hurriedly called my wife on my cell phone and he graciously talked to her. Really a nice guy! So I guess you were lucky to have such good neighbors at the restaurant!

News Readin' Wife said...

I am sure Howard Dean is a fine man.
His politics however, do not "jive" with Mr. News Readin's.

Being a full four inches from another table waxing on about left wing politics at a volume reserved for cattle auctions, left him cranky.

'Tis all...