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There are a few repeat travel moments that give me butterflies just by thinking about them. One of the major ones is stepping out of customs in Shannon Airport after a Boston to Shannon flight, seeing family for the first time, and then stepping outside for our airplane-dried skin to be bathed in a fresh, light misty early morning air. The smell of turf and rain and jet fuel is etched in my memory, and it always makes me think “home”.

Another favorite moment is when we get to this crossroads on the way to Napa and Sonoma and make a left toward Gloria Ferrer and all of wine country. I feel like a world is opening up to me, like I close a door behind us for however long we are away. So much waits beyond that crossroads!

napa sonoma On our last Sonoma County trip, we decided to check out Cline Cellars as our very first winery. You may know how much we love Cline wines, especially our house Viognier, but somehow we always missed visiting the winery. Boy, was I glad we took the time to stop (And we were their first guests at 10:00 a.m.! Blame it on #EastCoastTime)

Cline Cellars

Cline is beautiful. The whole area of Sonoma County is stunning, but from the road it is impossible to tell how involved and lovely Cline’s property is. If visiting Cline Cellars, give yourself an hour to wander around before you taste.

Cline Cellars

Sonoma County vineyards Sonoma County vineyards

In addition to being surrounded by beautiful vineyards, Cline has exquisite gardens and ponds, one where you can even feed some very aggressive, large fish. I was like a kid again feeding them and the turtles around them. Cline also has a variety of interesting birds on property.

Cline Cellars property

 

pomegranates

Cline’s gardens are gorgeous. I loved all of the fruit and flowers and became more inspired for my next season of gardening. Their gardens were both wild and groomed, creating a perfect space of natural beauty, surrounded by the bigger beauty that is Sonoma County.

Cline Cellars garden

Of course, Cline’s wines are as beautiful as their gardens, and their staff is wonderful as well. Days before we arrived, Cline lost quite a bit of wine to the Napa earthquake, and they also had some bottles with damaged labels for sale.

Cline Cellars Earthquake Wine

It was their Ancient Vine Zinfandel, with a  gorgeous, intense burst of fruit and cocoa with a hint of pepper. Ancient vines are one of those things that make Cline so amazing. Kelli recommended I try the 2012 Ancient Vine Mourvedre which is seriously AMAZING. This wine is so rich and concentrated, lots of dark fruit and again those cocoa notes, which offer so much depth, slight sweetness, roasted flavors. Heavenly.

Peppery Syrah also made its way to my favorite list; we do love Cline’s white wines, quite obviously, but the morning we visited was before the fog lifted, and those deep dark reds were perfection. Cline Cellars tasting room

Cline Cellars is an iconic winery, one of those spots you could easily visit again and again for the scenery and people and to check out the latest vintage. Now that we know what resides up that long vineyard road from the highway, we will find it impossible to ever pass again on a Sonoma trip.

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Tags: Cline Viognier, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Sonoma wine, wine, wine tasting, wine travel, Wine Wednesday

 

Rodney Strong wine

Our recent trip to Sonoma and Napa included the chance to plan get togethers and have some random run ins with some of the very friendly people we have met on past trips. Since it was Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and an early harvest, the county was buzzing with busy people, but one evening event brought lots of people out to Rodney Strong Vineyards for some of their great wine, an excellent selection of beers, and a band that I can now count in our favorites.

Rodney Strong Vineyards

While the light and heat of our day of canoeing on the Russian River faded, we caught up with old friends and met new ones while listening to the Big Bang, an incredibly talented group of musicians who I wish toured on the East Coast! Pliny the Elder

Rodney Strong wines are always favorites, but the selection of beers at the event was pretty phenomenal, and we had the opportunity to sip Pliny the Elder, a sought-after beer that many East Coast friends were excited to see on my Facebook and Instagram feeds.

peach salad

A simple, excellent dinner of fresh salads and wood-fired pizzas provided the perfect bites to go along with the beer and to prep us for dancing. With the Big Bang in the house, you couldn’t NOT dance.Rodney Strong Vineyards events

A break between music sets and chatting found us on the cool lawn behind the winery with more local beer, this time from Lagunitas, the sun setting  on the vineyards behind us, and lots of grateful silence and being in the perfect moment.

Sonoma sunset

The sun said its goodbyes most gracefully, meeting the dark and twinkling stars on their way in. Temperatures dropped, and we moved closer to the fire for a couple of last songs before we were on our way. What a beautiful way to spend a summer weekend night in wine country!

Thank you to Rodney Strong Vineyards for having us by. We can’t wait to visit again soon!

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Tags: beer, events, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, wine, wine country, wine tasting, winery

Happy. Friday. This week has started off with a 15 hour video shoot day and was hectic from then on. I have to work at 8 am on Sunday for another shoot; all of the work is fun and exciting, but it still means I don’t sleep well and am the worst at exercising and eating. I am psyched for a Saturday of sleeping in and iFest fun!

It feels like our Healdsburg vacation was a lifetime ago, but we’re still reminiscing on one of the coolest experiences, getting a  peek at Sonoma harvest 2014. Due to the weather, harvest came very early this year, and it unexpectedly occurred during our visit. We were fortunate that some of our favorite winemakers, the owners of Cartograph Wines, allowed us to tag along on a 4:00 a.n. pick.

We set our alarms for 3 the night before, but neither of us slept, both excited and afraid we would sleep through it. We got dressed silently and then drove the short drive to the Floodgate Vineyard, where lots of beautiful Pinot Noir grapes would be plucked off of the vine by a lightning fast and incredibly hardworking crew.

Sonoma County Harvest 2014

I didn’t feel tired at all, and it was much warmer than we expected. Once everyone had arrived, we headed down to the vineyard and followed along as the grapes were picked and dumped into big bins. Our way was lit by a tractor light and headlamps, which were super handy. It didn’t feel very dark at all; somehow I expected it to be a little scary, being out in a field in the middle of the night. Instead. it felt lovely and cozy, and the stars were absolutely stunning.

We were allowed to help out by picking out leaves and sticks and grapes that had turned into raisins or were suffering from botrytis. It was amazing how quickly the lot was picked (no thanks to us!) and what a long day everyone had ahead. Once the grapes are transported to the crush facility, the winemakers wait for a time slot to further sort their fruit and get it ready for crush. We were done before 6 am and immediately went back to bed; the winemakers, on the other hand, had about a 14 hour day ahead, between getting these grapes started and doing other winery and tasting room work. A LOT goes into those beautiful wine club wines we love to drink, and after this glimpse into that work, we will cherish each sip a little more.

Sonoma County Harvest 2014

Cartograph has a beautiful new tasting room in Healdsburg. It’s airy and chic yet super comfortable, and their staff is awesome. We may have talked their ears off on more than one occasion, our excitement plus their wine making us a little chattier than usual. We couldn’t help it; it’s a great place that people want to be, filled with great wines and the friendliest winemakers you could meet.

Cartograph tasting room

We have some club wine coming soon, which I will surely be reviewing. In the meantime, you can read about Cartograph wine in this Wine I am Loving Lately post. Cheers to Sonoma County Harvest 2014 and to the weekend!

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Tags: Healdsburg, picking grapes, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Sonoma harvest, Tasting Room, wine, wine tasting, winemaking

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