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There are certain glasses of wine you just can’t keep your nose out of, and this is definitely one of those. On my most recent trip to Sonoma County, I had the pleasure of dining with people who were true local experts, and they did an excellent job of choosing wine. As much as I like to be handed the wine list, in cases like this, it is so much more fun to try what the locals recommend.

girl and the fig wine and avocado toast This Westerhold Family Vineyards Syrah from Bennett Valley was everything I love about Syrah from Sonoma County, elegant yet bold, with deep, dark fruity notes and a bit of spice, and a nose that just smells like Sonoma to me. As the sun went down around us on that beautiful patio at The Girl & The Fig and the day went from dry and hot to cool and breezy in that classic Sonoma style, I couldn’t help but breathe deep in that glass. . . wines like this are definitely for savoring with as many senses as possible.

Let’s also talk about what’s in front of that bottle of wine, shall we? That’s The Girl & The Fig avocado toast, topped with smoked trout, egg, olives, tomatoes, and sunflower sprouts, in addition to all of that avocado deliciousness under there. Could there be a more heavenly meal? I think this wins for the best avocado toast I have ever encountered.

Happy Wine Wednesday, friends! What wines have you been loving lately?

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Tags: California wine, Food, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Syrah, Travel, wine of the week

Whew! Last week was a serious whirlwind of travel, from a weekend in Provincetown to the work week in Sonoma County. It was both tiring and incredible to be in two of my favorite places on earth in less than 24 hours. Travel never ceases to amaze me, how on a Monday morning I can start in rainy, gray Boston and then a few hours later be in Sonoma, blue skies and blazing sun. It’s pretty cool.

My trip to Sonoma County this time around was for work, so it involved a pre-planned, jam-packed itinerary of wineries, hotels, restaurants, meetings, and more. It was different than our past trips, but it was still great. I’ll have some posts on wine tasting coming up, but since today is Travel Tuesday wanted to share some snapshots I took along the way.

 

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort

My hotel, The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort, was luxurious and comfortable, the perfect spot for relaxing after a busy day. The pool area was my favorite for catching the beautiful Sonoma sunset and having a glass of local wine before bed. I was on East Coast time the entire trip and thus exhausted by sunset, but how could you miss this?

Sonoma sunset

Our first dinner took place at a favorite of mine, The Girl & The Fig, where the patio sparkled and the food was all inspired and delicious, as always.

The Girl and the Fig    The Wild Flounder Meunière, one of their signature dishes, was flaky buttery perfection, atop smooth and creamy potatoes and my serving of greens for the day.

Flounder

My visit included a tour of the stunning Fairmont Sonoma Mission & Spa, which I look forward to visiting again soon. The spa is one of the prettiest I have ever seen, and the pools were very inviting, as the sun started to climb into the sky. Fairmont Sonoma

My chilaquiles breakfast at the hotel was hearty and indulgent with a perfect kick of spice.

chilaquiles

Another restaurant I had the pleasure of dining at was Willi’s Wine Bar, where I sampled just about everything, including truffle fries, goat cheese fritters, a variety of salads, and to-die-for filet mignon sliders with creamed spinach. This is an amazing, must-visit spot if you are ever in the Santa Rosa area. The owners also own Bravas, which I visited last summer on our Healdsburg food tour and really, really loved.

Willi's Wine Bar

The food and wine pairing we had at Kendall Jackson Vineyard Estates was something to savor.

I would not have thought to pair strawberries with radishes, but the spicy/crunchy sweet/soft went together so deliciously, paired with 2014 Grand Reserve Rosé  just tasted like summer. I’ll be recreating this at home for sure. It’s just asking for a hammock or patio seating and a midsummer night.

radish and strawberry salad

2012 Jackson Estate Outland Ridge Pinot Noir, paired with a cassoulet of very local ingredients, 2013 Jackson Estate Alisos Hills Syrah with pork belly in a red wine BBQ sauce, and meatballs made with lamb from next door, paired with a delicious Cab made up for the hearty portion of the tasting. It was heavenly.

Kendall Jackson wine and food pairing

 

 

Kendall Jackson gardens

Many of the ingredients in the food pairing came from the gardens right on the property, and Tucker Taylor, the Culinary Gardener, gave us a delightful tour of the gardens, which are seriously impressive and beautiful.

Kendall Jackson gardens

Sonoma County

In between each stop, I enjoyed dreamy views of vineyards, mountains, and perfect skies. It was blissful just riding in the car, and taking in the sights and sounds and smells around me.  Sonoma County is truly just a special place full of amazing people, delicious food and wine, and unparalleled scenery. In case you couldn’t tell, I love it.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Terrace

While much of what we saw was new to me, I did get to visit the terrace at Rodney Strong, where we got to spend some time last summer. Their terrace light is perfect in the early to late evening, and while we missed the main portion of the program learning about their sustainability efforts, we made it in time to see their new square tanks and to do some mingling while eating delicious pizza and other bites and sampling some of their available wines.

flatbread pizza

Rodney Strong Vineyards Terrace  Rodney Strong Vineyards Sonoma sunset

 

It was both beautiful and a little sad to see the sun set that evening from the Rodney Strong Vineyards terrace, knowing that we were heading home the next day. This time around it wasn’t too too bad since I will be returning for a big work event in early September. If you’re planning a vacation, Sonoma County might be the perfect place for you. For more blog posts on Sonoma as well as my other travel posts, please visit my Travel Page.

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Tags: Food, Restaurants, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wine, wine country, wine tasting, wineries

Our weekend in Mystic was full of great food and drink. We were surprised and delighted by the sheer number of options available, and we did our best to try them all. For more on wine and food in the Mystic area, check out these posts:

Engine Room Mystic

Jonathan Edwards Winery

Mystic Seaport

Oyster Club Mystic

Saltwater Farm Vineyard

Our very first stop during our weekend in Mystic was at the American Velvet Mill for some beer tasting at Beer’d Brewing Co.

Beer'd Brewing Co.

We were surprised at the activity going on in the Velvet Mill; it was really cool! There was a farmers market going on in the wide open warehouse space, along with little artists studios along the sides. We peeked in at paintings and potters making pottery. You could easily spend an afternoon wandering around this lively space. It’s right near the Long Island Sound, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, and well worth a visit.

American Velvet Mill

Beer’d offers free tastings of their beers on tap, and then you can buy pints to drink there or growlers to bring off site.

Beer'd

 

Beer'd

The space at Beer’d is charming and rustic and backs up to the brewery, so you can see where all the action happens.

Beer'd We went through the tasting and then went for pints of our favorites, the roasty, chocolate-y P2 Precious Porter and the Whisker’d Whit Belgian, which was citrusy and refreshing. We’re big fans of stout, and while they didn’t have the Roulette Russian Imperial Stout available for tasting, once we expressed interest, they found us some sizeable samples. It was amazing, one of the best beers I have ever had, super dark with strong coffee notes and a perfect bit of bitter, like coffee and cacao.

Beer'd

We left with a few yummy growlers full for home and a great first impression of Beer’d. Everyone who worked there was so warm and welcoming as well as really excited about the beer. It’s a fun place to hang out and people watch, and we would definitely visit again on our next Mystic getaway.

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Tags: beer, beer tasting, brewery, Connecticut, Travel

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