We decided it was time to go on another wine tour (wine seems to pop up around us quite frequently…). This time we thought we would try Sonoma Valley. Of courses we could not miss out on going to our favourite vineyard, Goosecross Cellars (http://goosecross.com/), in Napa Valley, which we already mentioned in our previous blog post, ‘Wine, wine and more wine – Napa.’ The wine is still as fantastic as it was the last time we headed over there and both of us already knew that we would be buying one bottle each to take back home (our duty free allowance is three bottles each). Goosecross has changed a little since we have last been. They have expanded and built a new, larger, tasting room with a lovely terrace to sit outside for tastings. Make sure to pre-book your tasting when visiting Goosecross. The staff are still as friendly and personable as we remember from our last visit and we even had the same person doing our tasting, which we were excited about. Next time we are in the Napa/Sonoma region we will be back AGAIN! Gossecross Cellars is a winery on the top of our list. We were going to join their membership, alas, we then remembered that we do not actually live in the USA and so do not have an American address. Their tastings are $25.
After our tasting session we were ready for some food and asked the staff at Gossecross Cellars for any recommendations. And we got a fantastic one. The Italian place Ciccio (http://www.ciccionapavalley.com/) in Younteville. A very busy restaurant, so we were lucky to get two seats at the counter. The food quality was amazing, using locally sourced ingredients, from farm to table (for us this is a novelty as we are usually in cities and most places do not offer the same freshness and quality of food). Wine is of course from the local vineyards in the area. Once again staff here were very friendly and great to talk to. One chick was the designated driver, but the other one got sloshed (a very British word for someone who has had a good amount of grape juice and other lovely drinking concoctions).
We then drove on to Sonoma Valley, the Russian River area, where we were staying in an Airbnb. The next day we headed to Healdsburg and rented bikes at Wine Country Bikes (http://www.winecountrybikes.com/) for our wine drinking… We mean tasting tour. They provide maps with routes that take you past wineries. The only thing that can be a bit of a hassle is the time the bike rental place closes and getting back in time. We had to race back to get there before they closed.
We are ready for some cycling and wine! :
We started our wine tasting off at the Lambert Bridge Winery (https://lambertbridge.com/visit/visiting-options/), they have nice wines, and stunning grounds. Their big garden area with lots of seating around is wonderful to sit in after an exhausting cycle (ok we hadn’t cycled that much yet, but it was still exhausting enough 😉 ). There are two different wine tasting choices, we decided to go with their Classic Flight tasting for $15. We did get another of their wines to take with us and sit outside with in their garden.
After a lovely little relaxing break in the gorgeous grounds of Lambert Bridge we got back onto the saddles and continued cycling (we wanted to get as many vineyards in as possible-of course). We hadn’t researched any of the wineries and so every winery we ended up at was a thing of pure luck. Our next winery was Martorana (https://martoranafamilywinery.com/our-tasting-room). The reason for us stopping here was their advertisement of a picnic spot and organic wines. The grounds, again, beautiful! Seating around provided for picnics. The staff who was doing our tasting was very friendly and talkative and up for a laugh. The wine was fine, but the atmosphere was fantastic. There were a few other people there with us and the gentleman conducting our tasting was fantastic at turning the separate tastings into one big one, having everyone talk to one another. After our tasting we took a stroll around the grounds. Don’t miss walking up onto the roof of the tasting room, the view is great from there.
As time was running out for us we made our way to the last winery of the day, Quivira (https://quivirawine.com/visit-us/). Once again, another winery with beautiful grounds, we were being spoilt in Sonoma Valley. We did their Classic flight wine tasting for $15. Quivira’s wines are delicious, especially their red wines (and we love their bottle labels) and had to take one with us. They also have a lovely garden growing fruits and vegetables that you can walk through (and then start wishing you had your own garden so that you can grow your own fruit and veg as theirs looked delicious).
After Quivira, we ended up having to race back to get our bikes back in time before the bike rental place closes. Now if we say race, we mean race, we don’t think we have ever cycled this quickly! We did get them back in time, and headed into Healdsburg. Are you looking for good gelato places in the area? Try the Blackbird Café (http://blackbirdcafeandsodafountain.weebly.com/), they offer a fantastic range of more exotic and experimental flavours J Do flavours like honey lavender, peanut butter cup or coconut almond fudge make your mouth water? Yes? Then that means you will need to stop by for a scoop or two.
For dinner we headed over to the Russian River Vineyards Restaurant (http://www.russianrivervineyards.com/). We had made a reservation, which we would recommend doing. Sitting outside on their terrace with live music and fairy lights, plus their food (from garden to table!!), was an amazing finish to such a great day!!
The next day we set off for some more wine tasting. The first place was Iron Horse (http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com/), which lies on the top of the wine hills. The wine they offer is sparkling wine (and it was good, so good that apparently Obama used to order Iron Horse sparkling wine to the White house – so we have been told…) with a breathtaking view to go with it. You will not want to leave this place; it will definitely not disappoint! We went without a reservation, but reservations are HIGHLY recommended, we know we would have regretted it had we not been able to do one of their tastings. Their tastings are $25. Their tasting bar is located outside so that one can take in the views while enjoying their sparkling wine.
After Iron Horse we headed on to Sunce Winery & Vineyard. What we loved about Sunce was their surprise wine bag. You buy a bag with a bottle of wine and do not know what you are getting. It could be a very expensive wine, or one of their economical, not knowing that is the fun of it. After all the amazing and wonderful vineyards we had been to on our trip it was time to do something a little bit different, so we headed out to the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450). A whole load of tall trees, which makes for a lovely afternoon out, taking a walk and enjoying some nature. If you do have a spare moment in between all of that wine tasting and drinking, do go, it will make for a nice and relaxed afternoon out (and help your wine filled liver a little).
As you can probably tell by now, we loved our time in Sonoma Valley and all the vineyards we went to. If you ask us where we would recommend going, Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley, our decision is quite clear, Sonoma Valley (with a little pit-stop in Napa for Goosecross vineyards and Ciccio’s for some dinner). You ask why? The wine is amazing in both areas, if we were going by the taste of wine we would not be able to give you an answer, but we have found the vineyards in Sonoma Valley more personable and the ones we visited were beautifully situated. Sonoma Valley, WE WILL BE BACK!!!!