Today I’m going to the wine country.
Just up from San Francisco are the beautiful wine valleys of Sonoma and Napa which I will make my home for this afternoon.
We drive into town, past The City Hall, The Palace of Fine Arts, and out through Presidio park to the Golden Gate Bridge. The mist is rolling in off the bay, and it’s a majestic sight.
There’s plenty of tourists taking the early morning stroll as we drive across the huge orange steel structure, dubbed one of the ‘Wonders of the Modern World’. I shoot picture after picture as we drive under its huge towers. Awesome.
We cross the bridge onwards into Marin County, and up through Sausalito, past San Rafael and swoop around San Pablo bay; blasting the 101 into Sonoma.
It’s name allegedly meaning ‘valley of the moon’ in Native American, the streets of Sonoma are lined with Magnolia and Oleander as we enter.
We loop around the main square seeing the mission and the barracks, past wooden stores, and General Vallejo’s home, before heading onto the Sonoma Highway.
Our first stop is the BR Cohn Winery. It’s a little white ranch surrounded by olive trees and blooms. People are milling around outside in the afternoon sun, and there’s an oyster grill set up outside; as well as outdoor live music playing. It’s little surprise considering Bruce Cohn, its owner, was the manager of the famous rock band The Doobie Brothers.
We go inside to do some tasting and our server Linda gives us a cheeky extra 5th glass on our tasting menu. The wines are gorgeous, and we can’t help but buy a couple of bottles, which makes the lovely Linda so happy that she waves our tasting fees.
We also stop and grab some of their home grown oils and vinegars so we are plenty full by the time we roll out.
Next we cut across the mountains on the windy Trinity Road into Napa Valley. We come out of the hills into Oakville and hit up the Oakville Grocery Store-a lovely deli-where their wares include fresh cheeses meats, coffees and ice creams.
We buy french bread, olives and goats cheese for later, then head to our next vino stop.
Robert Sinskey is a little bigger than Cohn, and has high wooden vaulted ceilings inside. There’s building work being done which steals some of its grandeur, but it’s cool inside from the heat outdoors.
Our tasting ‘flight’ comes with free dainty delectable treats, including a pulled lamb burger which perfectly complements the Cabernet Franc. Apart from this blend however, the rest of the wines aren’t a patch on Sonoma.
We leave and move along down the road to Regusci, one of the oldest wineries in Napa. It’s a quaint family run vineyard established in the 1800’s and they have a beautiful garden area too.
We are almost oversaturated with wines at this point, so it’s hard to differentiate a favourite; however the Merlot seems to come out on top.
It’s nearly 5pm and so the wineries around here are nearly closing, but we swing by Darioush on the way out just to take a look.
It’s set amongst faux Persian temple ruins, a Middle Eastern theme here in the heart of rural California. It has a bright tasting bar surrounded by expensive art, jewellery, homewares and candles, all for sale upwards of a a cool 1000 dollars.
One of the more modern wineries here in Napa, we leave them to it, and take the Silverado Road back out to Berkeley, me a little wine sleepy.
Once home we watch the ‘big game’ (Cavaliers versus Warriors in the NBA play offs) then snack on our cheese and wine; opening one of the lovely bottles of sweet Pinot Gris from Cohn (well, it would be rude not to!).
I’ve loved by time out in the valleys today, the afternoon pairing two of my very favourite things in life-the great rustic outdoors, and a perfect glass of vino.
I head to bed so full of cheese, and a little high on wine that I fall into a deep satisfying slumber as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Ahhhh. Lovely jubbly.