The first day of our long Sonoma weekend! We woke up at 5:30am hoping to be on our way at 7am. We didn’t do too bad, we were on the road by 7:30am, all loaded down with suitcases, ice chests and snacks! There was a bit of snoozing by some of us, but we pretty much endured the long ride up without any issues…until we were almost there. We stopped at a Safeway to pick up some groceries but came out to a dead battery. Fortunately a Good Samaritan stopped to jump the car for us. Not knowing exactly why it happened, we decided it was best to head over to an auto parts store to pick up a new battery so we didn’t risk it happening again while winery hopping the next day. Very quickly we were on our way again, finding ourselves winding through the back roads of Guerneville and Monte Rio on our way to our rental home….”The Flying Pig”. Huge red woods and over grown lush forest vegetation were everywhere, it was very beautiful scenery!
Finally we find our little GEM of a home, got out to breathe in the crisp cool air, and were able to stretch our legs. The grounds were amazing! The home sits on a little creek off of the main nearby Russian River. There is the main house which has two bedrooms and then there is a little cottage off to the side that we named the “love shack” ;). There is a large deck off the house, as well as a Jacuzzi, and a fire pit down by the creek. Across from the creek is a hill…a large wall of tall trees so you essentially feel like you are in your own little secluded piece of heaven. It was just so perfectly calm and serene. I would LOVE to go back in the summer and float down the creek on an inner tube!
After unloading all the luggage and food items, we quickly got to work in the kitchen to get dinner started. Claudia and Susie were put in charge of chopping, dicing and mincing, while I started in on the stuffed tomatoes so we could quickly get a couple items in the oven. The homeowner left us a note and a bottle of wine…providing a nice little treat to enjoy while preparing dinner. She also left us some peanut butter cookie dough in the freezer to cook up later (which we never did!!). The boys…well, I don’t know…where were the boys?? Oh yeah, installing the battery! We soon opened another bottle that barely made it to the dinner table, but after the Shrimp Scampi (…and chicken for Claudia) were done, dinner was served and we were all soon stuffed. After dinner we went out to the Jacuzzi for a bit before sitting down to watch some of the video from our previous Exuma, Bahamas trip but our eyes were drooping, (some were already snoozing…Claudia), so we decided to call it an early night and head off to bed because we had a big day ahead of us!
We woke up nice and early to hot coffee (6am! :o), and we enjoyed a nice breakfast made by Claudia and Susie. Cute little egg muffins, beautiful fresh fruit and BACON! Wait, I think Michael made the bacon…perfectly cooked too! Since I am the one girl who takes the longest to get ready in the morning, having them cook breakfast and me cook dinner just seems to make sense ;). Our plan was to be on the road by 10am, and once again, we’re 30 minutes behind….not even my fault. Actually, all in all, we haven’t done too bad considering there are six of us! We had decided to spend our first day of tasting in the Russian River area for the most part. With Michael as our designated driver, we head out going East to start off at Red Car Winery where we pick up our weekend long event wristbands and wine glasses, which provide us unlimited barrel tasting at over 100 participating wineries for a measly $30 each. Many of them have small bite food parings and side by side bottled vs. barrel comparisons which is a great way to taste! It’s interesting to see where the wine is at taste-wise months before the actual bottling process. This first day we managed to visit 6 wineries…sparkling all the way thanks to my sequined top. After leaving Red Car, we went to Graton Ridge Cellars, and Dutton Estate Winery before heading north a bit to Porter Creek, Thomas George Estate and Hop Kiln. One thing I’ve learned…if you like a wine…BUY it! The promise of getting back to one isn’t likely to happen. I really wish I had bought a couple of bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc from Graton Ridge…such crispy fresh apple tastes in that one! Gonna have to try to find it in the stores now…hopefully.
Our plan was to go out to dinner this night but after a long day of tasting, we all really just wanted to get back to our beautiful home and enjoy it! So we made a make-shift dinner out of some left-over’s along with a few purchases from the grocery store and we were happy campers. The guys built a fire out at the fire pit and we sat out in the cold for a while before coming back in to watch the rest of our Exuma video before crashing into a deep slumber again!
This morning we were determined to get an earlier start so I can’t tell you what they all had for breakfast because I skipped it so I had plenty of time to primp. But luckily we were out the door on time and even arrived a bit early for our first stop at Korbel. Who doesn’t want a nice mimosa when the sun is shining and the mid-morning air is crisp? And who would have thought we could spend two hours at a champagne house? But it was easily done by doing some champagne tasting in their regular tasting room, enjoying their food paring & wine barrel tasting in the warehouse, then back to their tasting room to make some purchases, and even a brief walk through their deli market where Claudia bought some warm bread for our picnic lunch later. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tasting but I really enjoyed trying all the different champagne’s. After normally drinking the typical brut ones you can buy at most stores, it was such a nice change to sample some other blends. Needless to say, we all split a mixed case, coming home with 4 bottles each! From Korbel we went on to visit Armida where we had a picnic lunch, then DaVero, Mill Creek, Bella Vineyards, and ending our day at Chateau Diana where we shared a bottle on the patio deck enjoying the late afternoon sun and views of the vineyard across the street. By this time it was a bit of a drive back to our home but we arrived safely and quickly tossed some purple cabbage slaw and got the ribs and roasted veges into the oven. After dinner the amazing cleaning crew cleaned up and we all went back out to the Jacuzzi for the evening.
After realizing that we all really wanted just ONE MORE DAY here with nothing to do but walk the grounds, hunt down the elusive beaver in the creek, and maybe sip more wine, it was decided that next year we must stay another day, and possibly even fly up and rent a car. But it was not to be this year so we packed up early and left our little piece of heaven. There was a lot more sleeping on this trip home…stopping for McDonalds and later some frozen yogurt…but we made it home before dark in time to unload the luggage and sort out the purchased wine, feeling truly blessed for such a wonderful weekend with such wonderful travel companions.