Last month, I was fortunate enough to head out to California twice in rather rapid succession. The first trip, I landed in lovely Santa Rosa and headed up the coast to Mendocino for the 35th anniversary of Winesong, a charity event that this year raised $800K for the Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation.
Before getting there, I spent a couple of days in Sonoma County visiting some friends.
One of those friends runs the newly opened Flowers tasting room. While I will be writing more about that soon, Flowers should be on the short list of places to visit around Healdsburg.
Is you have never been up to Mendocino, it certainly warrants a trip as the county’s coastline is stunning.
There were several events over the course of the weekend for Winesong, but the highlight is certainly the Walk-Around Tasting and Charity Auction held at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
The backdrop for the tasting is beautiful.
And the auction is exhilerating.
There were plenty of tasty wines…
…and several great friends.
I also met the owner of Bon Pari, a tiny producer of Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. More to come about this encounter!
While the coast is indeed stunning, so are the redwoods, which I rode through the day after the Charity Auction. Yowza. One of the more incredible stretches of road I have ever ridden.
I put my rather large bike in the shot for a bit of perspective.
The sunsets in Mendocino were spectacular.
My second trip to the West Coast focused on a return to Dry Creek Valley, the first region I ever visited as a “blogger.” Before my visit to Dry Creek, I headed up to the Lake Tahoe region with my buddy Ed St. John of Pedroncelli Winery.
The trip included a bucket-list kinda ride around Lake Tahoe. 72 miles at 6,000 feet with over 4,000 feet of climbing. It almost killed me but it was worth it?
Lake Tahoe is beautiful, despite all the traffic.
There was also, of course, wine involved.
Back down closer to sea level, I visited several wineries in Dry Creek, many of which were new to me.
Way back, I purchased a case of wine from the inaugural vintage (2006) of 32 Winds, which were fabulous, but this was my first visit to the winery.
The wines were fabulous (more soon), but the hospitality was even better.
I particularly liked the Chardonnay.
I then headed up the Valley to Cast Wines, another relative newcomer to Dry Creek.
The views at Cast are amazing and Jack and Ann Selfrick produce some fantastic wines.
The following day, I met up with Ed St. John again at Diavola for some lunch, fantastic discussion, and of course, Pedroncellii wine.
Then it was back down the Valley to Mill Creek Vineyards, which has been a Dry Creek stalwart for decades.
On my last day in Dry Creek, I started at Bella Vineyards, which produces some of the best, robust Zinfandels I have ever tried.
My latest trip to Dry Creek ended at Martorana Family Winery, with the incomparable Gio Martorana.
Thanks to tropical storm Imelda, I had one more night in California. My flight was canceled, so I spent the night in lovely Sacramento, where I found Fizz Champagne and Bubbles Bar, which was pretty amazing.
In the coming weeks, I will have much more on these two trips–stay tuned!