Fields full of fairytale horses? We passed them last week in Sonoma. I was certain that when we passed by again, the fields and the horses would be gone, but sure enough they were real. The field below housed dozen, maybe more, lovely horses grazing under spooky trees. I thought it quite magical.
Our last day in California was kind of shapeless, much like most of our last trip. You see, I am a planner. I plan every meal, every tour, every tasting, meetups with friends, if it is a full calendar you want, I am usually the provider. But with my miserable flu which lasted minutes up until our trip, I kind of left life to chance. It was a first, and I learned that good times don’t always come from rigid schedules.
Take our visit to Iron Horse Vineyards, for example. I had always wanted to visit as I am a fan of their sparkling wine. When one winery we wanted to visit was closed, I grabbed the map and proclaimed that Iron Horse was where I wanted to end our trip.
And so we made our way up a windy, sort of one-lane road to the winery.
Now you might think of sparkling wine, and especially sparkling wine that has been served at White House functions as maybe a little pretentious. Their wine was served at Regan/Gorbachev summit meetings and frequently in the Clinton White House after all. . .
And yet, you pull up to the tasting “room” along a very bumpy dirt road to find that the entire operation is outside, with a corrugated roof to protect from the elements and a few gas heaters to keep wine tasters toasty warm. Your view from the front is this:
And your view from behind is this.
It instantly makes you thankful for the lack of walls around the tasting room.
We had the choice between a flight of still wines or a flight of sparkling wines. Some may have gone for the still, but who am I kidding? I would choose bubbly just about any day of the week. And that I did.
We tasted through a lineup of seven sparkling wines from the Ocean Reserve, which we ended up buying, to the 2005 Brut Rose. In the middle, our host snuck in a taste of Joy! from a limited-release magnum. Joy! is aged 10-15 years on the lees in the bottle, resulting in toasty, brioche-like aromas and flavors.
I can tell you that I had my favorites, the Ocean Reserve, the Joy!, and the Brut Rosé were among them. But I could easily drink any of the sparkling wines we tried any day of the week. C’est magnifique!
We received such a warm country welcome at Iron Horse, along with delightful bubbly, and, as you can see, gorgeous views, that I would not hesitate to return again and again on trips to Sonoma.
Are you a planner? Or, unlike me, are you able to enjoy spontaneity?