Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Birthplace of the California Wine Industry – Wine Country (Part III)

If you thought I was talking about the Napa Valley region of California, you are wrong.  Sonoma Valley claims that right and with some 183-year old vines, I guess they deserve it.  Once again we have the Franciscan Brothers to thank for their viticultural efforts that still keep us smiling.  Neither Betsy nor I had been to Sonoma before so we put it on our list of places to visit in Cali.  We found an RV park in Napa that would be great for exploring both the Napa Valley and the town of Sonoma (which was just a short drive away).

The picture-perfect town of Sonoma anchors the southern portion of the Sonoma Valley.  The focal point of Sonoma is the town’s historic plaza which attracts visitors and locals to this lively downtown.  Surrounding the lush green plaza are old adobe storefronts that house an eclectic mix of wine tasting rooms, chic boutiques, quaint restaurants, galleries, hotels, and even an old movie house.  Sonoma made the conscious decision to retain their small town pastoral setting back in the 60’s when they blocked a project to construct a freeway in the center of town and banned multiple housing units, leaving the original charm and beauty intact. 

The wines of the Sonoma Valley are world-class so we gobbled up some lunch and set off to do some tasting.  Our first stop was Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery which is just a few blocks from the plaza.  Sebastiani is a name we were familiar with and is commonly found in wine and grocery stores.  A few years ago Betsy met Vicki Sebastiani when she came to tour the zoo in New Orleans.  As a thank you, Vicki sent Betsy a box of their reserve wines and a book on the wetlands the winery was instrumental in protecting.  We loved that the winery was environmentally conscious and realizes the ecological importance of the diminished California wetlands.  

Adjacent to the Sebastiani tasting room is a collection of barrels, presses, and crushers that date back to the start of the winery in 1904 .

Next it was off to visit a winery that my sister (Lora) turned us on to when we were staying at her house for three weeks - Gundlach and Bundschu.  It so happened that the day we visited “Gun Bun” (as they like to call themselves) they were celebrating their 150-year anniversary of “Deed Day” – the year the deed for the land was signed.  We loved the wine, the celebration, the friendly tasting room, and their dog-friendly attitude. 

The "wine cave"
Sonoma Valley has so many wineries to visit - something like 370 - so we picked a few that had wines we liked and a few that were small boutique wineries that we had never heard of before (like Tin Barn).  All-in-all we had a  great day in Sonoma but it was time to head back to Napa and the RV to drink our purchases. Besides, we still had a few more days and the Napa Valley to tackle.

Good girl, you guard the wine.

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