On a recent visit to Northern California without our children, my husband and I decided to drive from San Francisco to Sonoma for wine tasting. We had never been to Sonoma, nor did we have any recommendations on where to go, so I looked to the Internet for ideas. I found a wine tasting and cheese pairing that seemed to be just what we needed for starters.
Passing over the Golden Gate Bridge and heading toward Sonoma valley, the drive took us from the cool ocean-side weather to the warm sun filling the valleys of Sonoma. This was the perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon.
Arriving at Meadowcroft Wines, we selected a semi-shaded table out on the patio. The hostess served the first of the two white wines, complemented by a plate of grapes, sausage, and cheeses. What a perfect atmosphere.
Then we were served three red wines. I’ve never been much of a red wine drinker. I tried the first one, but had to pass on the rest. Our hostess kindly offered other types of chardonnay once she learned that was my typical wine of choice.
After the sampling, we selected the house chardonnay and relaxed while enjoying the peaceful and serene California atmosphere. While sitting on the patio, we decided to do a vineyard tour. We had passed many signs, but, again, I didn’t know where to go or what would be good.
We decided to just go down the road until something caught our eye. The first place we stopped at was the homemade jerky shop, which needed to be explored. A jerky bar was set up with all the shop’s selections available for tasting. I settled on turkey jerky. Yep, I’m pretty predictable and don’t stray too far from my normal habits. My husband chose hot beef, and we got a jar of jalapeno-stuffed olives for one of our children.
Back on the road, we saw a sign for Gloria Ferrer, which had caves and tours. We turned in and passed through the rows of grape vines.
When we arrived at the visitor’s center, we found the next tour wasn’t scheduled for a while, so we wandered through the gift shop and looked over the wine selections. Once again, we selected a chardonnay, but we also had to try the wine-filled chocolates.
We sat out on the patio and enjoyed wine, chocolate, and chili almonds. The view was amazing: The patio overlooked rows of pinot noir grapes with a backdrop of rolling hills.
On the tour, we were briefed on the history of the vineyard and its wine. The wines are created from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes grown and hand-picked from the vineyard’s 335 acres, which lie in elevations between 50 and 325 feet. This diversity of growing conditions provides the variety of tastes and characteristics of the wines and sparkling wines.
This very loosely planned adventure all centered on a single road leading through Sonoma valley. Next trip, we hope to spend a few days exploring even more of what this area offers.
Read about one of California’s green wineries in Drive Winter 2010 cover story, Biodynamic Vineyards.
Read the Drive Spring 2011 cover story featuring Laurie Forster, a wine educator.