Winery Hopping through Sonoma

Posted on: Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From San Francisco our tasting trip continued, primarily in the form of smelling and sipping. With windows down, we drove through the pastoral, expansive Sonoma County. With our wine-loving friends, we visited Sonoma's village center for lunch al fresco under Sunflower Caffè's canary yellow and white striped awning. We leisurely enjoyed artisan sandwiches featuring smoked duck breast with Gruyere and roasted pork loin with mango chutney, and our first (of many) glasses of Sauvignon Blanc as we mapped out our wine tasting adventure.

We first stopped at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and were instantly transported back to our biking trip through Chianti a few years back. We tasted pungent olive oils and sipped an array of reds and whites.
We skipped across the road to one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma County, Cline Cellars, where we sipped a variety of pours at the outdoor wine bar. With the warm weather and first taste of spring, we were drawn to the 2012 Mourvèdre Rosé which had a pleasant aroma and hints of pomegranate and plum.
We concluded our afternoon of tastings at the highlight of the trip, Ram's Gate. Driving up a winding hill to the stunning estate we were overcome by the breathtaking views of the region. The grandiose entry led to a modern, refined courtyard featuring a wraparound open bar as well as intimate indoor/outdoor lounging areas in the laid back, serene atmosphere. With Empire of the Sun and Cut Copy softly playing in the background, we sipped refreshing red and whites and our favorite, the 2011 Pinot Noir, Sonoma County which was super silky and smooth with bright notes of black cherry and wild strawberry.
The next morning we drove north to Benziger Family Winery located on a sprawling estate in quaint Glenn Ellen. We sampled an array of pours while learning about the grape growing process from our young, friendly guide. He discussed how the craft wine is produced from Biodynamics which is the highest level of organic farming. Walking among grazing cows and sheep on our visit, we were also eager to nibble the fresh cheeses. One notable cheddar was rubbed with espresso which offered an extra boost as we headed to our next visit.
Our final stop that afternoon was not at a winery, but instead a brewery in nearby Petaluma. We pulled up to Lagunitas Brewing Company for a late lunch and sampling. The Tap Room and Beer Sanctuary was packed as we sat on wooden Adirondack chairs around a table topped with bowls of shelled peanuts and pretzels. After sampling a few of the year round and seasonal brews, we both agreed that our favorite was the Little Sumpin' Sumpin' which is a seasonal pale wheat ale.
For a sweet ending, we were introduced to a new beer phenomenon-the Beer Float. This was an upgrade to your classic Root Beer Float which featured Imperial Stout with a scoop of rich, creamy vanilla ice cream in a frosted stein. Genius.

Oh Wine Country...the beauty of the product is in the land.


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