Farewell To Wine Country And Welcome Home To Sunny Florida
What an incredible trip we had visiting California’s wine country. We really did live like the locals and enjoyed every minute!
As our trip comes to an end, we wanted to mention some of our favorite dining spots, not including “Chez Allison” (our home away from home). Actually, some of our favorite moments were spent at the sizeable Tuscan farm table out in the garden there.
We loved the following restaurants and would go back in a minute:
Auberge du Soleil – views that are BEYOND and incredible food. They always have a great prix fixe offering
Bistro Don Giovanni – great vibe and delicious food
Shed – creative farm to table restaurant in Healdsburg with wonderful gift items
RH (Restoration Hardware) – gorgeous space with limited, but excellent menu
Hog Island Oyster Co. – make the trek to Tomales Bay and dine outside at the Boat Oyster Bar. The Grilled Chipotle Oyster special was divine!
Gotts – gotta go to Gotts. Fabulous burgers and fish tacos. Get there early, as the line gets really LONG
Cook St. Helena – small eatery with excellent, fresh pasta
Farmstead – another great farm to table experience. Unique atmosphere and very trendy. A great place to sit at the bar during happy hour
Clif Family (famous Bruschetta Food Truck) – try the mushroom bruschetta or the kale salad. Wednesday nights offerings are paired to the wines
Model Bakery – their English muffins were included in Orpah’s favorite things. They are fresh and crispy and great with any of their preserves
Bouchon Bistro – great food and a Thomas Keller restaurant. Need I say more?
Bistro Jeanty – another fabulous choice! you MUST try their tomato soup served in a puff pastry (it is legendary)!
Another thing that we really enjoyed was picnics in the various wineries. Some do not allow this, as it is required that they have an exclusive license to allow food to be brought on to the property.
Here are some great spots to enjoy a picnic, followed by the best resources for picnic provisions:
Chappellet – provides a “picnic in the meadow.” This spot overlooks the lake, and the views are spectacular. The “meadow” is just a short drive down the mountain and is reserved for wine club members. There are very lovely restrooms there, so you do not have to drive back to the main winery. They even provide a nice bag with bottled waters and stemless wine glasses. We purchased a bottle of their 2014 Malbec, and it paired perfectly with our lunch.
Frank Family Vineyards– has a great picnic area just outside of the tasting room. We bought a nice bottle of Lewis Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir. They provided the wine glasses, and we brought the feast. They also are one of the few wineries that produce both bubbly and still wines. Their Rouge bubbles are exceptional, and we got some of this to savor with our Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
Pride Mountain Vineyards– offers two separate picnic locations. One area is high up on the mountain with panoramic views. The other is in a shady spot near the historical winery ruins that date back to 1890. There is also a swing hanging from one of the trees and picnic tables. We had our adopted niece M aka “baby girl” with us, and she had a swing while we were there. We loved the 2016 Cabernet Franc.
The following also offer great picnic opportunities in addition to several beautiful parks in the area:
Alpha Omega Winery
Rutherford Hill Winery
Pestoni Family Winery…and many more
Best resources for picnic provisions:
Sunshine Foods, Saint Helena
Napa Valley Oilve Oil Company (just happened to be right across the street from our home away from home)
Dean & Deluca, Saint Helena
Oakville Grocery, Oakville and Healdsburg
Journeyman Meat Co, Healdsburg
There are many more great places to pick up some fabulous picnic fare, and they all have incredible offerings. Olives, fresh meats, cheeses, spreads, crackers and freshly baked breads.
One of our last “farewell” treats and extraordinary experience was a visit to Pride Mountain Vineyards. We have been there several times before and LOVE the Pride Summit Experience. Nikki is an incredible host and is also very knowledgeable. She makes us feel like we are part of the family. And, did I mention that the wines are some of the best we have ever enjoyed! The experience begins with a “splash” of delicious Chardonnay in the tasting area. Then, we proceed outside to see the harvest in progress.
As I mentioned, we LOVE the wines here, and a unique quality of this vineyard is that the vines are located in both Napa and Sonoma counties. You can see the dividing line in the middle of the winery drive and up into the vineyard. They basically run two operations to keep the grapes separate from each area. They even have to maintain different accounting systems, even though they are the same winery. If you ever have the pleasure of enjoying a bottle of Pride, you will notice that both Napa and Sonoma are listed on the label.
We were able to taste the just harvested Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the large containers in the driveway. So sweet and delicious!
Next, we head to the caves for a couple of special barrel tastings. It is impressive that even after a short period of time, the wines are very smooth and palatable. We tried a Cabernet and Merlot on this visit.
The Summit Experience includes a visit to the exclusive tasting room in the caves, and is a private seated experience. The room is elegantly furnished and completely removed from the other visitor areas. There are gorgeous stained glass windows on one side of the room where the cave emerges outside to the patio overlooking the vineyard.
During the Pride Summit tasting, you are able to taste their limited release offerings, and there is a selection of aged cheeses, nuts and other items that pair well with the wines. The experience lasts for approximately 90 minutes and is an incredible treat. AND, Nikki really enhances the experience with her exceptional hospitality.
So, we are planning to return next October to revisit some of our favorite places, discover new “finds” and just enjoy living the wine country life.
Until then, drink great wine and enjoy every minute. And, feel free to send me a message if you want more information on any of the wineries or experiences we enjoyed throughout the month. Cheers!