Sonoma County in California is exactly as lovely and delicious and, frankly, as delirious as you would expect.
During my short visit to the Bay Area (Week 233), I also got the chance to spend a day hopping from vineyard to winery and tasting amazing food fresh from the garden and wine, wine, wine… And all that with wonderful old and new friends, on a gorgeous day, in a lovely natural setting. It was simply the best!
Melanie, who is such an inspiring person that I suspect our meeting will have a lasting effect on my life, drove Katie, Kip and me from Oakland to Santa Rosa, where we picked up Lacy, who turned out to be the best, fun, knowledgeable, well-connected and flexible “tour guide”. While she had laid out a much larger plan of all the wineries, vineyards, gardens and tasting rooms we were supposed to visit, she had to keep readjusting the schedule and change appointments because we had such a great time at every single place we visited that we ended up staying longer every time.
For example, the wine-pairing food selection directly from the garden a few feet away at the Kendall-Jackson Estate was an unplanned surprise courtesy of the gardener (a fellow Gainesvillian, just like Lacy) himself. Perfectly timed “delay” since it gave Trevor, the chef among us, the chance to join us for the food and the rest of the fabulous tour. In a day full of highlights I shouldn’t forget to mention the experience of eating ice lettuce straight from the plant: in every bite you get the texture and taste of an entire crunchy salad with dressing. Amazing! The oyster leaf supposedly tasted just like oyster. I wouldn’t know because it’s been decades since I’ve tasted oysters (once was enough) – but the oyster leaf tasted fresh and delicious.
Next, we enjoyed the lovely view and mostly sparkling wines at Iron Horse Vineyards where we lingered in the sunshine for the afternoon and I explored the actual vine groves to capture some close-up shots.
We closed the wine tasting tour at the Wind Gap Wines Tasting Room in Sebastopol, where wine is made in fascinating egg-shaped “barrels” and where I may have been a little tipsy and ended up shooting mostly photos instead of video.
Last but not least, we had Vietnamese food in Santa Rosa. Since that was also some of the very best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, I’m now completely convinced that people in the Bay Area may just appreciate, savor and make better food than people elsewhere. I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to return.
A huge thank you to Katie, Kip, Trevor, Kevin, and especially Melanie and Lacy, for making this amazing day happen and for getting me back safely to Oakland to sleep off the fantastic and fulfilling day.