Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day three and four

We had already crammed so much into our first two days in Sonoma and the next too were packed as well! We had made reservations to take the Playtpus Bus Tour prior to our trip after hearing raving reviews from Caitlin! We decided to plan this for Day Three, right in the middle of our trip.

We had stopped at the Market the night before and picked up some Pineapple and grapes to add to the fruit from our basket to make a great fruit salad for breakfast before our tour. I did some chopping and erin did some photographing. we took this out to a little patio in the middle of the cottages that overlooks the stream and enjoyed it with coffee and some muffins (also in the basket). It was yet another gorgeous day.

The Tour was awesome! The bus picked us up right in front of our cottage and the fun ensued. We started with a winery right around the corner from us: Benzinger. They gave a quick and informative tour through their vineyards on a tram and ended with a tasting in their tasting room. They do bio-dynamic farming (which is basically a step further than organic) and it was quite interesting. We moved on next to their sister winery (owned by one of the brothers) Imagery. WE LOVED THIS PLACE. we actually joined their wine club! They have artist do pictures for each of their wine releases, and they had a great mix of red and white which is perfect for erin and I! They actually had an art gallery right in their tasting room with some of the past wine labels. We also had a gourmet picnic lunch here and enjoyed a bottle of their Pinot Gris with the rest of the tour group. From here we moved on to our next winery, Loxton. we were hoping to meet the wine maker Chris but he wasn't in that day.

I will also mention that it was around this time that we broke into the cheese tray the tour had assembled for us. It was great and just what we needed to nibble on!!! Then our tour guide threw in a little Olive Oil tasting to our tour. FUN!! erin and I had actually been eyeing this place everytime we passed so it was fun to get to try it out. I also sampled their balsamic vinegars...fig infused YUM! They way they sampled was just sipping the oil/vinegar...that was a bit harsh for me so I used some of the above crackers.

Our final winery was right across the street from where we were staying, Audelssa. This was actually a tasting room, not an actually winery as their vineyards are all over the valley. They gave us some bread and homemade olive oil with the tasting as well!
After all that tasting we were ready to unwind and relax in our room. We also lined up all our wine purchases so far...YOWZER! (we figured out that we bought a bottle of wine at almost every winery we visited! memories)
We had decided to try a local Indian restaurant for dinner but wanted to stop in and have a beer at the Jack London Bar first. A bit of trivia about this bar is that they filmed the movie "Bottleshock"here (well all the bar scenes). Although this movie actually took place in Napa, the movie producers were from Sonoma and fell in love with this bar! It was a laid back local bar and right up our alley. i can't remember what beer erin had but I tried a Flat Tire it was local west coast beer and a welcoming change from wine! erin also found a friend that night....(awwwwww).

Indian was next! Yeti was delicious and we even saw the guy that did our tasting at Audelssa dining there so we knew it was authentically local! We shared a bottle of Ravenswood Chardonnay with our dinner and got all our favorite Indian picks! (roti, steamed veggie samosas, veg. biryani and shrimp curry) We stuffed ourselves full of some amazing food! Oh but we found room for those brownies from Cyrus when we got back to the room.
(side note about the wine...we love Ravenswood Zin, which is what they are known for, but the Chard. was good too!)

Day four we were back on our own with a few pre-planned stops. We headed across the street to a cute breakfast spot for some latte's before crossing the infamous windy road on our way to Napa for our first winery (pre planned) Quintessa. This was MY FAVORITE. It was beautiful and the wine was amazing and after our personal tour!!! we sat with our tour guide, who we LOVED, and talked about wine and life and had these amazing tapas!!! erin and i dropped a pretty penny on a bottle of their wine but it was totally worth it. We spent the longest at this winery and enjoyed every moment. After that we didn't really have a plan in mind so we were driving down the street and turned into Mumm which our friends Molly and Nick are members of (they joined while visiting on their honeymoon and their rave of wine country totally pushed us to visit!). We had another appointment at Burgess so after tasting some great sparkling at Mumm we head up the hill. Burgess by far had the best views!! (see the picture honestly looks like a postcard!) We had planned on picnicking here but we were told it was a no-no due to some laws so we ate our grapes in the car and moved along. next we decided to try a winery that our host at Quintessa recommended due to the interesting architecture. Darioush is owned by a man that come Iran. It was an interesting winery...but a bit on the snobby side for us. Finally we made our way back to downtown Sonoma and got to taste a few wines at some tasting rooms (Highway 12 and Charles Creek) We actually bought our one and only Port at the latter tasting room. It was a chocolate rasp. port..YUM.

We then made our way across the plaza to have a "end of the day" drink at what the locals call "the bistro". I actually stuck with a glass of Ravenswood Chard. and erin went for the fat tire beer!

We talked to some of the locals and they recommended that we try out a Portuguese Restaurant called LaSalette. Off we did not disappoint!

Erin started with a Portuguese white wine flight: (the pours were quite large!). I opted to get a 1/2 bottle of sparkling Gloria-Ferrer. I love me some sparkling wine!! (we didn't get to visit this winery but I read alot about it).

We decided to start with some tapas: CHEESE and CHARCUTERIE PLATES. we got: WHITE ANCHOVIES, Boquerones from Spain; SERRA de ESTRELA, sheep’s-milk, semisoft, pungent and CHOURIÇO, dry Portuguese pork and garlic sausage. It was perfect because erin didn't want the cheese and i didn't want the pork! we were both brave and tried the anchovies...I thought the saltiness of the fish was great with the cheese!For our entree's I got NEW ZEALAND BLUE NOSE SEA BASS wood oven roasted, on a bed of grilled yellow corn with collard greens and molho cru which was really good! Erin choose the ARROZ á VALENCIANA Paella-like Portuguese classic with sautéed linguiça, chicken, shellfish and saffron rice which was also incredible. We took awhile making our decision because everything looked so interesting and tasty. I wish we could go back!

We were beyond full at the end of the meal and slowly made our way back to our cottage to digest and reflect...(we may or may not have stopped at whole foods for desert and coffee..i just don't recall :)!