Happy weekend! I only had three days of work this week, but I was certainly thankful for the work week to end. Going back to work after an amazing time at the Foodbuzz Festival and in wine country was very difficult. I do however, have a new work philosophy. At the end of the day, when I leave work I am just letting it go, not even making the time to talk about the work part of my day. So far this has worked well and has helped me to avoid reliving the frustration that talking about work brings. When I last left off on our wine country journey, we were leaving Hook & Ladder after a tasting of reds, including a great Zinfandel that we purchased to ship home. We were going to head straight to Yountville to check into our hotel, but we had some time and decided to drove a bit past Healdsburg. Venturing off of 101, we found ourselves on a bumpy side road with a narrow old railway bridge. The scenery, as it was everywhere in California, was a sight to behold. Everyone says that Fall in New England is beautiful, and it is, but this was just such a different perspective on the season. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I can definitely see myself living there.
We were about to turn around to head back to the main highway when I saw a sign for Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves, a winery recommended to me on Twitter by Sonoma Wine Guy. As useless as Twitter sometimes seems, it was helpful in this case! Pulling up to Bella reveals their wine caves which include the tasting room and events space.
The wine tanks are also visible to visitors.
Taking photos inside the cave was difficult, but it was a cozy, warmly lit place, and I was excited to try their Zinfandels and other offerings.
Their wine glasses had a cute tractor, the same one parked out in front of the cave, etched on the glass. Zinfandels definitely won again. We tried and enjoyed both their 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and their 2007 Big River Ranch Zinfandel. The standout was the Big River Ranch, though we liked them both. This is a big, tannin-y wine with a deep opaque red color and a burst of juicy berries on the palate. Yum. Tasting in the caves was a lot of fun. Bella offers not only tours and private tastings in their caves, but they also have a jeep tour that takes you up to Lily Hill, where the grapes for the Dry Creek zin are grown. I didn’t contact them in time to book any of the tours, but the next time we go to Sonoma I will definitely make sure to book in advance. Their website offers information on the tours so if you will be in the area, check them out! After leaving Bella, we were definitely heading back to the highway to get lunch and find our hotel for the night. But then we saw the sign for barrel tastings at Zichichi Family Vineyard and literally backed up and into their parking lot. Neither one of us had done a barrel tasting and really wanted to give it a whirl.
Our tasting was delayed slightly when I looked out on to the covered back deck of the tasting room and saw this, my new, nine week old Swiss mountain dog puppy pal:
Obviously I had to go out and play.
It was love at first sight. And love at first sip once I went inside!
The 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel from the barrel was incredible. It offers the perfect amount of the big, jammy flavor characteristic of Zinfandels. It is not even being bottled until January, and we will receive our shipment in March, just in time for my birthday, hopefully. I can not wait to see what a couple of months of aging in the barrel will do to the flavor of this young wine. Something to look forward to for sure! At this point we were more than ravenous. A quick drive over to Geyserville brought us right in front of Diavola Pizzeria. After a good amount of water and some thin, chewy, cheesy breadsticks, we were served our lunches. For me, the wood oven roasted hearts of romaine with shrimp and Caesar dressing and for my hubs, a thick BLT panini teeming with thick, salty, smoky bacon and, red pepper mayo, lettuce, and ripe tomatoes. I will admit to sneaking a few bites of this sandwich, and I can understand why it was his favorite meal of the entire trip. It was a perfectly made sandwich, complete with chewy focaccia bread. My lunch was great too with perfectly cooked shrimp, and a creamy parmesan laden dressing over slightly grilled lettuce. Just what we needed to finish our journey to Yountville.
Next up, Yountville, Domaine Chandon, dinner at Bouchon, and more. For now I am off to go running with a group of Boston bloggers, then to walk some of my favorite dog friends at the shelter. They have been there for so long :( I am not sure what the rest of the weekend will bring, but I know I will be blogging! Have a GREAT day my friends!