Those who know California wine country say that in the spring you will find that the hills are green and the vines are brown. This is definitely what we saw on our recent weekend trip up to Sonoma Valley. My husband and I had a nice get away -without the kids-as a
belated birthday present for me. We drove up Friday afternoon amidst the usual Bay Area traffic. Silly us…we thought that by leaving at 3pm we would be ahead of the bad traffic, but noooooo…it was two full hours before we got to drive at the speed limit. We tried hard not to let it bother us. We rolled into our hotel for the last 15 min. of the complementary wine and cheese hour…Score!! Had a glass of wine and my share of cheese & bread, then checked into our room. We did not have dinner reservations which is a bit unusual as my hubby likes to plan things out ahead of time. We looked up a few menus on yelp and found one that sounded interesting. When we got to this small restaurant, there were no tables available, but they had 2 seats about to open up at their bar which looked into the tiny kitchen. Perfect! We ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and sipped it as we waited outside on the warm spring evening. Cafe La Haye was bustling with energy. We got to watch the kitchen churn out dish after dish. It was fun to watch. Tom had savory short ribs and I had house-made pasta with mussels, sausage & swiss chard-so good!!
The next day was all about the wine tasting, but before we got started, I needed to drive by my Italian grandmother’s former house. Mima moved to Sonoma back in 1972 where she owned a nursery for a number of years. I have fond memories of coming to Sonoma as a kid, walking around the Sonoma square, getting sour dough rolls, dry jack cheese and slices mortadella for lunch. The current nursery owners have done quite a nice job of mixing plants and other interesting things. We saw bird coops with chickens, pigeons and even peacocks. This one peacock was ready to get his game on and was showing the only other peacock around (a lady, I assume) what a stud he was with his feathers fully spread out. It was quite impressive to me, although I’m not too sure how impressed the lady peacock was.
After traveling down memory lane, it was time to taste some wine. We drove out to Matanzas Creek which was a beautiful 25 minute drive along a winding country road through green meadows, oak trees, and vineyards. We decided to share 5 tastes but our enthusiastic server kept giving us extra tastes (fine with us!) We probably got 9 or 10 “tastes” in all. Needless to say, we enjoyed Matanzas Creek.
Next up was Ledson, a beautiful winery that they call the Castle. Once you see it, you will know why.
After that we drove to VJB which is a boutique winery that I had never heard of before, but am glad that we stopped by. It has a Tuscan flair to it with a stone-walled tasting room and a large court yard where you can enjoy food from their well-stocked deli. The place was buzzing with happy wine drinkers. I ordered a plate of prosciutto, soppraessata and mezzo secco cheese to enjoy with our wine and I was in my happy place. Above the tasting room door was a quote which I adopted as my mantra for the weekend-“Vivere per mangiare!” which means, “Live to Eat” in Italian. I was doing a fine job of that already as this was my 3rd meal of the day, and it was only 3pm.
We decided that we better head back to our room at MacArthur Place. What I love about this place is that the rooms are spread out over the 7-acre property and there are lots of mature trees and plants so that you feel secluded. There are also cool art pieces throughout the property which makes it interesting as you stroll about.
Before dinner, I asked my hubby to take a few shots of me as I needed a new profile picture and I was having a good hair day. I don’t really mind getting my picture taken, but between trying to micro-manage Tom and tell him exactly how I want the shot, what angle he should aim at, where to focus, what the background should be, etc., I only have 5-8 minutes before he gets tired of me telling him what to do. So we need to be efficient and I need to be cooperative & happy with the 25 shots he takes. I would probably shoot 100 images to get one great image, but he doesn’t have the patience for that-so I take what I can get and cross my fingers that one or two turn out.
The rest of the weekend was relaxing and fun. We spent time shopping in downtown Sonoma, sleeping in, eating and of course, drinking more wine! There are so many things to do & see in Sonoma, it’s impossible to get it all in during one weekend. As we drove home, we resolved to come back at least once a year…and of course, to live up to my new mantra, “Vivere per mangiare!”
March 25, 2013