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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wine Country - California

 This past November my husband and i decided to visit California wine country and sample from various vineyards/wineries.  Our goal was to mainly tour the Sonoma region which is closer to the west and far less touristy.  However, we did spend one day driving through scenic Napa Valley.  Our first stop that morning was "Hess Collection".  The Hess Collection is off the main highway but an absolute stunning drive up a twisty old road.  The winery includes an art gallery  of contemporary pieces that
 the owner has collected over the past 30 years.  There is also a large garden area which was in full bloom of roses and a separate wine/bar building to taste the current releases.  This terrior is known for Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.    Joseph Phelps is another favourite in this area (St Helena).  This BIO  state of the art winery holds tastings and seminars as well as an outdoor garden/patio to view the valley.
For myself, one of the highlights of the trip were the unbelievable fall colors.  My
 poor husband, constantly being asked to pull over or wait to I could take yet another photo.  It almost was "visual overload" if there is such a thing.  There was so much to see and I did not want to miss anything, I felt like a little kid!  My two favourite photos from the trip (featured below) are of the trees and pond at Chateau Montelena and the winding country road in Sonoma.  Chateau Montelena (Napa) is famous  for its 1973 chardonnay took first place in the 1976 Judgement of Paris and in the movie

 Bottleshock.  The 1882 chateau is a french style stone castle rising above a man made lake with Chinese garden.  Chateau Montelena is known for chardonnay, cab's and Riesling.  The building with the three peaks is Hop Kiln Winery.  This odd looking building was originally built for the production of beer.  The building alone is very much worth a visit.  You can also purchase gourmet food items in the shop and sit by the pond with a bottle of vino.  Hop Kiln produces big fruity zinfandel's, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and Gewurztraminer.  We also purchased 4 jars of their mustard's in different flavours which were very good.
There are literally hundreds of wineries throughout Sonoma and Napa some very large and "touristy" while others small and family run.  The choice is endless you just have to plan on what you wish to do or discover.
We based ourselves in Santa Rosa north of San Francisco on the Sonoma side.  Santa Rosa is known for the

 home of Charles Schultz who created the "Peanuts/Charlie Brown" series.  Nice small town atmosphere with good restaurants.  We also visited Healdsburg (which we both loved) and it has a wonderful weekend Farmers market.  Calistoga, famous for it's mud baths and the town of Napa, which has a wonderful old-country grocery store.  The one thing I did not really enjoy although thank goodness we did it during the day,  Trinity Road that separates Napa and Sonoma. A twisting, turning
narrow road with blind corners.
We had a wonderful time (we also visited this are in June), and are very much looking forward to our next visit.  I think the "Silverado Trail" is in store for us.
Enjoy wine!!!!!!


  1. I love the picture of the turning leaves along the curve in the road, the barrels & the lemons, the most. We had planned our 1st trip to wine country last September, but unfortunately had to cancel b/c of work. I can not wait to go some day, your review sounds like it's just our kind of trip!

  2. Terrific pictures! I LOVE the lemons (limes?).