Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wine Country, Day 1

After an evening of Italian food and drinks in North Beach, we left San Francisco and headed for the Sonoma Valley, a.k.a. “wine country”. Before getting to the first day in wine country, a few thoughts on SF… Apologies to those out there who are die hard SF fans, but we weren't in love with it. Admittedly, we are not very touristy people so we didn’t do Alcatraz, nor did we drive up the crooked street, so right there some would say we missed it all. Don’t get us wrong, we had a great time, the scenery was nice when the sun was out and the food was good, but otherwise we will likely not return. The nostalgia of the steep hills, street cars, white facades and golden gate views were drowned out by the knock-you-over crowdedness, impossible to park in, extremely over priced underbelly of the city.

Back to the first day in Sonoma… since it is only about an hour north of SF, we arrived in the morning and got an early start to wine tasting. Rather than try to organize this into continuous prose, we will go down the list on what we saw and thoughts on each. Our day consisted of driving all over the place and it went something like this:
-Sebastiani (the foundation of Sonoma): large, impersonal and curt with an average wine flight. I have had good wines from them before so we were surprised and disappointed at our experience here, the building was cool however.

-Buena Vista (oldest winery in Sonoma – 1857, Carneros Region): our running favorite, phenomenal wines compared to most thus far. Wine lady tasting with us was great (Rhonda), the building, grounds, history, information displays were top notch. We may actually join the wine club, Sara for the chardonnay and pinot noir for myself.

-Bartholomew Park – small winery, 3500 cases a year sold only from tasting room. Nice whites, mediocre reds. Tasting team was nice and attentive.

-Schug Winery – okay wine, nothing special.

-Viansa – large place, first stop in Sonoma. We were suspicious when we saw two tour busses out front. We were right, the tasting room was a mad house filled with foreign tourists and a lot of rapid snapping cameras, so we turned around and left, no thanks.

-Jacuzzi Olive Oil/Wine – they had wine, but we wanted a break so we tasted olive oil. We love olive oil and always try it when offered, but here in the valley you don’t taste it with bread, you shoot it out of a cup and swish it around like wine. The experience is strange drinking straight oil, but you can really tell the difference that way. Most of the lighter ones and fruit/herb flavored ones were great, some were way to strong and tasted like axel grease.

-Gloria Ferrer – This sparkling wine cave (champagne, but not called that in America) is owned by Freixnet, the infamous black plastic wrapped average priced bottle that we are no stranger to around New Years Eve. The sparking wine we tasted was good, but the setting and view from the balcony tasting area was worth the tasting fee.

After a long day of tasting we checked in to our B&B, the Thistle Dew Inn. A nice little place 1 block from Sonoma Square that Tara recommended from their trip a few years back. We hit the local market (based on a recommendation from Gary), got some take-out dinner items, a bottle of wine (Buena Vista Chardonnay) and had a nice picnic meal at our B&B to finish day one.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

FYI - I read your comment about San Francisco and Brian/I couldn't agree more. We went to Napa for a week and went to SF for a day and decided we wish we stayed in Napa one more day. Not that the city is bad, but it's not that great either.

And I love all the list of wineries you hit...I'll take those suggestions for the next time we go! :)