First time in California wine country last weekend! Huzzah! Milestone!
The stars aligned, and Robertson came out during a weekend that his oenophile friend Dan was also in town for, so we planned a Sonoma sleepover trip for us, another Chicago friend, and a gaggle of European Bainies (love European Bainies, hi Ted & Arabella & Rik!)
I knew that for my first trip to Sonoma/Napa, it’d have to be Sonoma. Where Napa is known for prize-winning and big California cabs, VIP car services, Michelin starred restaurants, and spas, Sonoma has the windier and more spread out roads, the moodier atmosphere, the greater variety of varietals, the proximity to the coast, the cheaper and more casual tastings, the greater concentration of state parks and hikes, the more hippy small towns, all the things that a Kelly would love.
The week before the trip, I went way overboard w planning - addicted to recherch-ing cheese farms, wineries that hit the trifecta of view + food pairing (self-brought or purchased) + value, hiking trails… One thing I didn’t do - check the weather. The morning of our trip, the rain poooured down upon us, and I almost felt a pang of jealousy (okay I did feel a pang of jealousy) for my housemates who were planning on ‘staying in and watching movies all day and baking cookies.’ But there was no turning back, and onwards, northwards we went!
Once we got out of the city, the rain let up, and we made our first stop at the Tea Room Cafe in Petaluma, where we carbo-loaded on french toast, sour cream pancakes, and potato cakes. One of those places that was always full but where everyone was able to find a seat, and with a big giant steel-ish cow watching over us to boot - in other words, a totally lovable spot. After we sufficiently lined our tummies, we headed further up the 101 to Sebastopol, a funky town which we stopped in to wait for the second car to catch up. I almost picked up a coffee table from a mid century modern shop in town but decided I’d come back later when I’m richer and just buy the shop-owners too-pricey-for-me art instead.
Finally oh finally, after a late and wet start, we arrive at vineyard #1 - Iron Horse, tucked in at the dead end of an offshoot off of the main road. We were worried about the outdoor tasting room, but the clouds kept their raindrops to themselves, and we enjoyed some expensivo Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (one of the best areas for it in the world) while overlooking a field of new green grape vines!