In most vacation destinations there are ideal times to visit. In our hometown of Vail, most would agree that July is the perfect summer month and a powder day in March is the best of winter. After just returning from a trip to Sonoma, I realized that experiencing the harvest in full swing is by far the best way to see wine country and to fully understand the entire process of growing grapes to bottling wine.
I would highly recommend renting a private home during any wine country trip. Having a home or condo allows you buy the wine you liked during daytime tastings and then enjoy it safely in your residence at night. We assembled plates of cheese, meat, nuts and crackers to compliment our wine while overlooking the beautiful vineyards off our deck. We stayed at Cecelia’s Vineyard Villa. This home (see pictures above) was the perfect retreat for 8 people and was complete with a gourmet kitchen, large deck and hot tub, 2 living areas and a state of the art media room displaying the first of the McCain/Obama debates and therefore generating much discussion.
On to the wine, the starring player in any wine country visit. Tom, owner at West Vail Liquor, and Dan, Wine Buyer, started their business a few days before the rest of us showed up to distract them. They visited many vineyards including Benziger, Goldeneye (Anderson Valley), Landmark,Seghesio and Londer Vineyards and had many treasured “souveniers” to show for it.
Our larger group started our tour at Simi Vineyard. This is one of the oldest operating producers of wine in the area and was started by Pietro and Guiseppe Simi after first failing to produce gold and then vegtables. Guiseppe’s daughter Isabella ran the vineyard for over 70 years! My personal favorite wine variety is Chardonnay and the Simi Chardonnay does not disappoint! Simi’s Chardonnay ($17.99 at West Vail Liquor) has lively fruit flavors of pear, pinapple, peach and has a long, lively finish on the palate. I particularly enjoyed the Simi Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99 at West Vail Liquor) which had nice cherry and fruit flavors.
If you are looking for a wonderful culinary experience, stop into the Oakville Grocery on the Healdsburg square (or the original store in Napa) for a delicious lunch, extra bottle of wine or supplies for your next wine and food pairing. They have the most incredible collection of cheeses, meats, olives, spreads, cookies (amazing molasses), local produce, deli and wines.
So, after a some time in Sonoma, we started yearning for a little recreation and less consumption. We started one day on our beautiful lawn with a private yoga class led by our own instructor, Wendi Buick. Another day we ventured out to Lake Sonoma for some lake kayaking, canoeing and some type of crazy water biking. Simply running or walking in this area is a treat with the views and aromas overloading the senses.
With the scenery, vineyards, culinary focus and recreational opportunities, Sonoma is the perfect place for a fall getaway.