wine tasting

You are currently browsing articles tagged wine tasting.

For past Sonoma and Napa posts and a collection of other travel blog posts, visit my Travel page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My September getaway to Sonoma County feels like it was a million years ago. With all of the other travel I have been doing, I’ve been away just about every two weeks, and in between life and the flu have gotten in the way. I am finally sitting down to share a whirlwind recap of the wineries we visited on this trip. We missed a few favorites but discovered some great new-to-me spots, and with another Sonoma visit on the horizon for May, I am in a good place for planning. We also got to eat at some favorite Sonoma County restaurants while having to save others for the next trip. The one lesson we have learned over many trips to wine country is to not cram everything in. It’s easy to want to eat and taste and see everything, but it’s a lot more enjoyable if you pace yourself.

Sonoma County Sunset

This time around I was visiting Sonoma County with a group of friends, and we had a house in Santa Rosa as our home base. On our first night, we enjoyed a picnic spread, live music, beautiful wine, and an epic sunset at Paradise Ridge Winery.

Paradise Ridge Winery

It is hard to believe, but just weeks later, this very special place burned down during the wildfires that swept through the area. Paradise Ridge plans to rebuild, and I know that their many friends and fans will be there at the door when it reopens for business.

Paradise Ridge Winery

We tried to have a few wine tasting appointments on the calendar and to build the days around that. The constants throughout were blue skies and perfect sunshine. On my first full day, we kicked off our wine adventures at the gorgeous Iron Horse Vineyards, where the views are as stunning as the bubbles in your glass.

iron horse sonoma county

The outdoor tasting room at Iron Horse is as perfect as it gets, rustic, open air (but with heaters!) and complete access to the intense beauty that surrounds it. All of the sparkling wines we tasted were insanely good, but a few bottles of the Russian Cuvee made it into the shipment back to Boston for me!

Iron Horse Vineyards

Our next stop, Red Car Winery, was another I had visited before, and a favorite producer of Pinot Noir and their large format rosé of Pinot Noir. A living-room-like setting is a comfy spot for tasting year round, and our club membership means that we will definitely be back on our May visit.

red car wine

Lunchtime and grumbling stomachs brought us to The Barlow for food (more on that in a future post) and more wine, naturally. 

The Barlow

Wind Gap Wines makes some of my all time favorite wines, so it was again a must-visit on this trip. Their Chenin Blanc and Trousseau Gris are always my top choices, and the sun streaming in the open windows of the tasting room plus the dog there on my last visit make it one of my favorite places to while away an afternoon on vacation.

Wind Gap Wine

We ended that day with an incredible dinner at Bird & the Bottle, which I highly recommend.

Our Friday in Sonoma County was dedicated to Healdsburg, which we traveled to in an Uber and spent the day walking and eating and drinking around. We had lunch at Bravas Tapas and a special tasting at another favorite, Cartograph Wines,

IMG_5531

This is definitely a must-visit tasting room in Healdsburg, especially for Pinot Noir lovers and anyone who likes genuinely awesome people. Everyone there is just the best.

IMG_5532

And as it often happens, good people who know good wine, make recommendations on where to go next. Since we didn’t have any set plans, we took the recommendation to walk to Breathless Wines, and we were so glad we did.

This sparkling winery owned by three sisters has a beautiful outdoor garden space to taste their yummy wines.

Breathless WinesHealdsburg wine tasting

They’ve done a really great job with both the indoor and outdoor spaces, and their sparkling rosé was perfect for a hot September day. Their Moscato was the real surprise of the day. We all expected sweet, which we don’t love, but instead got beautiful, complex flavors of herbs and spices and baked apples.

Breathless Wine

Another recommendation we received from Cartograph was DaVero Farms and Winery, a short Uber drive outside of the downtown area of Healdsburg, and so worth the trip.

Davero Wine

Talk about a special place. . . DaVero is a nature-lover’s dream, with gorgeous plants and flowers, views, and piglets!

DaVero makes wines with Mediterranean varietals that thrive in the climate they grow them in. You’ll see Barbera and Sangiovese on their wine tasting list, and they offer an interesting, delicious departure from many of the other wines you’ll be tasting in the area. Be sure to build in some time to walk around to see the property! 

Davero WinerySonoma

On our final day in Sonoma County, as we made our way back to San Francisco, we squeezed in a few more wine stops.

In downtown Sonoma, Roche Family Winery was a destination for us, as one of our party shares a last name with the owners. Another sunshine-drenched outdoor space, this time great for people watching just outside of Sonoma Plaza, and a big, buttery Chardonnay (I like them!) gave us the perfect sendoff out of town and on our way to beautiful and bubbly all-time favorite, Gloria Ferrer, which I blogged about here.

Roche Winery Sonoma

Gloria Ferrer is a tradition for us and a must-visit at least once on every trip to Sonoma County.

Holding on to the very last seconds in beautiful wine country before we headed back to the crowded and much chillier city, we made our last stop to wander around Cornerstone Sonoma, where a cold glass of Meadowcraft Wines Sauvignon Blanc accompanied me on my walk around the gardens.

Meadowcroft WineCornerstone Sonoma

Ahhh. . . some of the best life memories come from travel to Northern California, and as much as we want to see the whole world, we keep coming back to Sonoma County for more.

Stay tuned for a final food recap and some photos of the gorgeous house we rented!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: California, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, wine, wine tasting, wine travel

You can find other posts on our recent trip to Tuscany/Umbria below:

Eating Our Way Through Italy: Part 1

Villa Life: A Week in Umbria

Wine Tasting in Tuscany: Avignonesi Winery

When you think Italy, of course food and wine are top of mind, and we did plenty of eating during our trip.

IMG_3580

It was gloriously hot and sunny every single day, and we opted to eat almost every meal outside. When visiting Cortona after a spectacular wine tasting at Baracchi Winery (more to come on that), we were ravenous and tired and happy to find Baracchi’s Cortona restaurant, Bottega Baracchi, was serving a cold lunch and pizza even late in the afternoon when many places close. We shared cheese and meat plates and more wine from Baracchi on their charming patio, but I of course had to take a peek inside and was glad I did.

IMG_3581

While the patio of Bottega Baracchi is beautiful and overlooks bustling Cortona, the interior of the restaurant is spectacular! It just keeps going, and there’s wine and food and art everywhere. I loved the displays of fresh veggies and this rack of rosé. I’ll take it all, please!

IMG_3585IMG_3589

No meal in Italy is really complete without gelato, and we stopped for a dish or cone every chance we got. A scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of chocolate for me!

IMG_3590

Vecchio Molino in the town we were staying in, Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, was a favorite for a late dinner al fresco, complete with fried zucchini blossom heaven.

I’m well aware of the amount of oil that goes into these, which is part of what makes them so delicious.

IMG_3607

Truffles were a regional staple where we were staying, and these raviolis in cream sauce were covered in fragrant truffle. It was amazing.

IMG_3608

And then of course there was the wedding! The whole reason we all gathered for a week in Italy was for my husband’s sister’s wedding, and we ate all night long.

IMG_3736

Course after course of incredible food came out all night and included indulgences like this Umbrian bread salad topped with lobster and prosciutto and cheese crepes with black truffle.

These were just the appetizers. There was a pasta with shrimp and a gnocchi in a rich montalcino wine sauce, followed by a fliet of beef, and the most decadent, cream topped, Nutella filled wedding cake.

IMG_3741

And then after some dancing, there was pizza!

IMG_3821

Our last night in Italy turned into a massive party at the villa, with all of the guests who weren’t staying there over to swim, and everyone brought food or wine to the table for a delicious meal. We had a professional chef in the group, which was amazing, and with his grilling and other cooking, along with everyone else’s culinary talents, we feasted on salads, grilled burgers and spicy sausage, salads, pasta, and so much more. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

IMG_3946

IMG_3947

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: cheese, Cortona, gelato, Italy, Travel, travel blog, Tuscany, wine, wine tasting, winery

Wine tasting in Tuscany. . . a beautiful phrase that conjures  up images of rolling hills dotted with smiling sunflowers and juicy grapes. . .a dreamy thought really. . .

Last month wine tasting in Tuscany became a reality as we stayed at a villa in Umbria, which was just over the Tuscan border. Hot, dry summer days with little to do but explore beautiful pockets of Italy left us time for visiting wineries like Avignonesi, located near Montepulciano. 

 Tuscany sunflowers

Even after a week in Tuscany, I couldn’t get over the sunflowers. Each and every time I saw one or a million, I was enchanted.

sunflowers in Tuscany

After only about 20 minutes of driving from our villa, we drove up the dusty road to Avignonesi, where we were greeted by sun-baked architecture, a warm welcome, and flights of wine.

Avignonsi Winery

Avignonesi

Options of covered patio seating and indoor tasting meant keeping cool out of the Tuscan sun, which gets hot! We opted to share the two tasting flights so that we could try more of the beautiful wines made at Avignonesi.

wine tasting

Our wine tasting was at our leisure, with the wines brought to the table two at a time. Our tasting included the following:

Il Marzocco Chardonnay Toscana IGT
Grandi Annate Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
Desiderio Merlot Toscana IGT

Grifi Sangiovese – Cabernet Sauvignon Toscana IGT
50&50 Toscana IGT

You’ll notice the focus in the region is mainly reds, including Sangiovese and Merlot. We did start with Chardonnay, and I learned that Tuscan Chardonnay, and this one in particular, is delicious. Notes of honey, lemon, wildflowers make it very different than the California Chardonnays I am used to drinking. The Chardonnay was a welcome, chilled respite from the heat, while the reds were big, structured, juicy, some tannic. These wines were beautiful, but for me, would definitely pair well with fall or winter, big bowls of stew or chili, and a fireplace.

 

wine tasting in Tuscan 

We finished with a Vin Santo di Montepulciano; it was rich and syrupy but not-too-sweet. A sip or two is all you need to pair with crunchy biscotti to finish off a meal.

vin santo

We enjoyed the ambiance of Avignonesi so much that we didn’t want to leave, so we got a glass of Prosecco to share and toured the beautiful grounds. The Prosecco was perfectly refreshing and in a more brut style, which I prefer. I am not a fan of sweet Prosecco!

Tuscany  winery in Tuscany  wine barrels

The whole of the property was wide open to us, and we peeked into the drying room and barrique room before stepping back out into the sunlight to soak up more of Tuscany.

What an incredible way to spend a few hours in Italy!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Share

Tags: Italy, Travel, Tuscany, wine, wine tasting, winery

« Older entries

new restaurant
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera