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Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

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FUN AND GAMES AT FARMHOUSE INN

  
  
  
Farmhouse Inn Facebook Sweepstakes

Here at Farmhouse Inn we pride ourselves not taking life in Sonoma County too seriously...we love helping our guests discover some of the whimsy and fun of living in the wine country.  When the birthday for our (fairly) new Barn building rolled around this year we wanted to do something extra fun so everyone could join in and help us celebrate.  We are fairly new to social media and Facebook...still learning the ropes (plus they keep changing everything when we do get it figured out)  but wanted to see what we could do to increase our presence there. 
And Meghan had an idea of piggybacking on the release of the new Snow White movie too...what do you think of the concept behind  our first Facebook promotion?

 

Right when we were discussing what kind of hijinks we could get up to - we discovered a company called Grosocial that specializes in helping companies grow their social media presence and designs tabs for Facebook promotions.  Right up our alley...they helped us design a sweepstakes that could be shared on Facebook with the entries and shares tracked through their application. We had the most fun coming up with some ideas for prizes and they helped us flesh it all out.  Now the Sweepstakes is done, the winner is announced, and we thought we would share some of the fun we had along the way.  It was definitely a learning experience but luckily our new friends at Grosocial held our hands through it all.  if you didn't happen to see it here is a picture of the Sweepstakes...

TINY WEDDINGS AT FARMHOUSE INN...OUR TAKE ON ROMANCE!

  
  
  
Meghan, Wedding and romance Concierge

  
A very special message from our romance specialist at Farmhouse Inn
Meghan Smith,
our elopement and wedding coordinator
 (and concierge extraordinaire).






Despite the trend of grandiose, Martha Stewart-esque weddings that have persisted for the last 10 years, here at Farmhouse Inn we have given all that up and prefer to offer couples a more intimate option.  We think romance is personal, and with each of our "tiny weddings" we see that theory proved time and time again.  The story each couple has is what makes each Elopement special.  Whether it is a late-in-life love, an instant connection or a long friendship that grew over time, each story is unique.

It is my job/pleasure to help couples plan their elopement to the wine country here at Farmhouse Inn.  While the package was created to be simple and straightforward it doesn’t lack the special details and each couple puts their own spin on it.  From our cakes made by Patisserie Angelica, to the bouquets from local florist Atrellis, each detail is important and unique.  The elopement package covers all the basics and a few extra details but I have yet to host a couple who has been “typical”.  The package provides couples with what they need to get married, but each story is so different that every wine country elopement at Farmhouse is special and unique.  We tell couples all they need is the ring and a dress and we take care of the rest.  But every bride and groom have added their own special touches that have created a memory for us here at Farmhouse too...

 

My very first Farmhouse elopement was with Marcia Ann and Randy last November.  The couple was from Texas and each already had grown children with families of their own.  They found each other later in life and after a whirlwind romance of only 2 months, Randy whisked Marcia Ann to Farmhouse Inn for a tiny wedding all their own. (You know, he originally thought he would just bring her and surprise her once they got to Farmhouse but we had to tell him it might not be good...she would need a dress and things to make their day truly special.  Romantic- yes!  Wise- maybe not?!) Their ceremony was the first that has ever had me sniffling and I had only met them 2 days before.  We all fell a little bit in love with the both of them and look forward to seeing them in November when they come back to celebrate their anniversary.

While Marcia Ann and Randy made us cry, we have couples that make us laugh too.  Most recently we had the pleasure of meeting Teena and Wayne.  Both from Las Vegas, we found it a little ironic that they were eloping but chose to do so in the romantic Wine Country instead of their hometown.  Teena and Wayne had photographer Kate Nagel come out to do their photos and she captured some amazing moments.  Our favorites though are of Teena and Wayne jumping into the pool.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We refer to "tying the knot" and "taking the plunge"...they definitely took the plunge-literally!  Teena went for it in her dress and full hair and makeup and Wayne took off his shoes and jacket before making a splash.  The fun they had (they also did the classic cake-in-the-face moment) made everyone’s week and anytime we need to lighten up we just look at these photos.

Randy and Marcia Ann have a story that struck a chord with all of us who had the pleasure of working with them, as all of our couples do.  We continue to get a thrill with each new wedding we host and every time someone proposes in the restaurant and when we check in the couples celebrating anniversaries. 


 

These occasions are so personal and it is our good fortune to be a part of these moments. 
While we don’t disagree with the classic icons of romance (just ask us and we’ll gladly put a bottle of champagne with some truffles in your room),
we understand that there is no one-size fits-all version of romance.










Chocolate bonbons, a chilled bottle of champagne and a Sandra Bullock chick flick. Sounds exactly like a romantic evening to me. These icons of romance endure because we love them. And while the word “elope” often brings to mind a Las Vegas ceremony with an Elvis minister, at Farmhouse we want you to think of something else. The classic icons evoked when you hear the word “romance” (Miss Bullock and bonbons) should be the same things that pop to mind when you hear the word “elope” (sorry Elvis). Add to those images a romantic dinner for two in the Farmhouse restaurant, a couples massage and a very personal ceremony and you’ll come close to what an elopement at Farmhouse Inn means. 

                                             Ahhh...Romance!

FARMER'S MARKETS TAKE OVER SONOMA COUNTY

  
  
  
sonoma farmer's markets

I HAVE BEEN WAITING (ALMOST PATIENTLY) FOR ALL OUR FARMER'S MARKETS TO REALLY GET GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT THEM AND HOW MUCH I LOVE SUMMER IN SONOMA.  IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYTHING IS COMING IN ALL AT ONCE- STILL SOME CHERRIES AROUND AND I SAW APRICOTS YESTERDAY THAT I THOUGHT WOULD BE GONE BY NOW.  SUMMER SQUASH IS EVERYWHERE AND THE EARLY TOMATOES AND ALL THE STONE FRUITS AND... THAT'S THE SUMMER SEASON IN CALIFORNIA AND PARTICULARLY IN SONOMA COUNTY. 

FARMHOUSE INN AND 10 WAYS TO CELEBRATE SONOMA SUMMER

  
  
  
wine country ballooning

Driving in this morning there were 3 hot air balloons hovering almost directly over the Farmhouse Inn...


made me think of all the wondrous things we love to share with our guests every season in the Sonoma Wine Country.  But summer...aah...wonderful summer.  So many things to do and see and new experiences around every corner. You know that old Porgy and Bess song..."summertime and the livin' is easy"- that is summer in Sonoma all over.  

Very rare heat waves and they never last more than a couple of days (sorry to the whole rest of the sweltering country- don't mean to rub it in).  So most of the time that perfect warm temperature of 75-85 degrees during the afternoon so you know it is really summer but then it cools down nicely (at least 20 degrees) once the sun goes down.  (And no humidity and NO big bugs either.)

INDEPENDENCE DAY ALL OVER SONOMA COUNTY

  
  
  
Farmhouse Inn Fourth of July

In case you don't know, Farmhouse Inn sits right in the middle of the Russian River Valley and the wine country, almost smack in the middle of the large and very diverse Sonoma County (the size of Rhode Island, actually).  You would think we are all about the vineyards and wineries- BUT the Independence Day holiday brings out the patriotism in all of us.  What is it about the Fourth that brings out the old-fashioned, family-style celebrations that Sonoma County excels in?

SONOMA WINE COUNTRY AND SUMMERTIME BOUNTY

  
  
  
Anna, Farmhouse concierge


Farmhouse Inn Lead Concierge,
Anna McPeck chases down the
wild and wonderful new food
(and drink?) offerings in
Sonoma Wine Country.

               


That's our Anna...


Thanks to Sonoma County’s temperate Mediterranean climate, the area has long been a haven for farmers, vintners, and chowhounds alike. Summertime is the season chefs look forward to most; when produce everywhere is lush and plentiful and when some of their favorite fruits and vegetables to cook with come into their prime. It is officially summer and Sonoma County chefs, residents and visitors all have a lot to be excited about in the delicious world of food and wine. Freshness is all around us here in Sonoma from the guy standing on the corner selling his cherry crop, to the little farmstands sprinkled around the county, to the amazing of Farmer's Markets (remember, there is one somewhere in the county every single day of the week except Monday)!  Truly, truly we do not need the grocery store this time of year. 

  The Farmhouse Concierge team is super excited about the number of great new restaurants popping up around town!  (We get to try them first, you see...) 

Scopa restaurateur, Ari Rosen, has just opened the doors to his new hot spot, Campo Fina, just a block off the square on Healdsburg Avenue. Scopa’s overwhelming and loyal following gave Rosen the incentive to expand and try something a little different with Campo Fina.
Heather Irwin's blog "biteclubeats" was all about them opening today. Here's a couple of her pictures to whet your appetite.

   

Their back patio features a beautiful new outdoor bar and bocce court and you can expect the great standard of food you’ve experienced at Scopa, presented in a small plates format.  We have been a couple of times already and love the new space and the menu is amazing.

Speaking of awesome back patios,  our already favorite Diavola Pizzeria just opened a great enclosed back patio addition to their little hamlet up in Geyserville. Check it out!  Open for lunch and dinner --we are all about outdoor dining these days.         

Another scoop from the Farmhouse with a quick explanation on the Zagat blog...Zazu on the river has  just opened at Davis Family Vineyards. Beloved lunch spot, Bovolo, is no more, but John and Duskie from Zazu are replacing it with this new venture. 
           
And while details are still a bit mysterious about what exactly is going to become of the old Ravenous Café, we know that it has been purchased by Stark Restaurants, and Bite Club Eats posits that it may be turned into a Spanish/Greek style tapas restaurant. No matter what the outcome, we are excited for a new Stark restaurant in Sonoma County!

So where do the talented chefs of Sonoma County get ahold of all the great produce that they use to create their wonderful Wine Country Cuisine? They build great networks with all of our local farmers.
Take for instance, our very own Executive Chef Steve Litke. Wednesday is his preparation day for the Farmhouse Restaurant and getting to work on Wednesdays takes him a good two hours. That’s because he is stopping at farms all along the way to work to pick up the fresh ingredients he will be using. One stop is at his neighbor’s farm, La Bonne Terre. Owners Mary & Bert Villemaire are like a second set of parents to our chef and are staple farmers in the Healdsburg community, a permanent fixture at the popular Healdsburg Farmer’s Market (a stop our chef makes every Saturday morning). He can be found sorting through baskets of Favas, snap peas or tomatillos at Tierra Vegetables, a beautiful organic farm stand located in North Santa Rosa.

Or on his days off you might hear him on the phone with Charmoon, owner of Wild About Mushrooms, his go-to guy for all things fungi,
or perhaps he will be chatting with Bryan at Mix Garden, figuring out his order of micro-greens and beets. All of these relationships come together in the beautiful plates his kitchen team brings to you in the restaurant each night. 
 It’s great to know about these close-knit ties between chefs and farmers, but what about some hands on experiences you can partake in yourself? One of the biggest draws to West Sonoma County is the amazing cheese we produce in this area. The Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail is a great resource for planning a visit to some of the wonderful dairies and creameries making world class cheeses in our backyard

Many of these multi-generational Sonoma and Marin county families have been producing on family farms for years. A few are open to the public – Marin French Cheese Company and Cowgirl Creamery, for instance, and a few are open by appointment only (Achadina & Pug’s Leap), while some are simply too small and too busy to host the public. One particularly unique and exciting opportunity is The Fork Culinary Center at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Here they offer hands on cooking classes and demonstrations.

And while you’re down that way trying all our Sonoma decadent cheese, why not go the extra mile and indulge in a picnic with some oysters too at one of our local favorites, Hog Island Oyster Company? They even give you a video guide on how to shuck an oyster, in case you aren’t a pro yet.


Whatever your reasons are for visiting Sonoma County, the food and agriculture (and wine) here is sure to enhance your experience. We hope you’ll enjoy some of this fun foodie news and some of our own local favorites on your next visit to the Sonoma Wine Country. 

SWEET (SIZZLING) SONOMA SUMMER AT FARMHOUSE INN

  
  
  
Farmhouse kitty jasper

YES, IT IS OFFICIALLY SUMMER...ALL WEEK HAS BEEN ABOVE 80 DEGREES AND A COUPLE OF DAYS ABOVE THE 90 DEGREE MARK.  THE FARMHOUSE INN GUESTS HAVE ALL BEEN HANGING OUT BY THE POOL AND CHARLOTTE AND JASPER (THE KITTIES) ARE FOUND IN ANY SHADY SPOT.  THAT'S A SHOT OF JASPER THAT BRANDON, OUR BELLBOY JUST SHOT THIS EVENING.  OUR GUESTS KIND OF HAVE THAT LOOK TOO CAMPED OUT IN THE LOUNGE CHAIRS.

FARMHOUSE + SONOMA + GARDENS = JEALOUS GUESTS

  
  
  
New Farmhouse garden signs

The gardens here at Farmhouse Inn are flourishing this time of year and our gardener Jana, has been very busy this week prepping for the Resorts in Bloom Garden Tour this weekend.   We had some great guests from New Jersey with us all week (they fell in love with Charlotte) and she mentioned how jealous she was of our gardens (and our California weather).  We are seeing more and more of the guests hanging out with Jana, asking questions, and even helping her out a little.  She was handpicking an evil beetle off some of her babies and one of the guests was bringing her handfuls of the nasty little varmints. (Don't mention the word "raccoon" to her- she goes a little crazy about that bad boy.) She has new signs we designed for the gardens that she is installing for this weekend so now you can do a little self-guided tour around the grounds.

SUMMER DAYS IN SONOMA- WINE COUNTRY MUSIC VENUES

  
  
  
Lagu-mini Amphitheater-ette

This is the time of year that we all get to play tourist in the wine country.  Summertime in Sonoma just has so much going on.  Art shows, farmer's markets and garden tours, festivals and celebrations of all things Sonoma, and then all the normal, all the time winery stuff going on (Passport to Pinot, anyone?).  Just can't cover it all in one blog post.  So this week's feature- the music venues going on all summer.

Right now one of the biggest (longest) events is the 10-day Healdsburg Jazz Festival going on right now in Healdsburg- check out the schedule - it closes June 10th. 


If you work it right this weekend you can take in the Beerfest in Santa Rosa on Saturday, sneak in to a couple of the artists studios at the West Sonoma County's Art at the Source open studio tours and still fit in some of the Jazz events in Healdsburg.  The Summer Concert Series in the Healdsburg plaza started this last Tuesday.  June 12th- Gator Beat and Zydeco-  listen up - mark it on your calendar!  Always manage to see them at least once sometime during the season.  Everybody dance!!



This acting like a tourist can be exhausting...I don't know how our guests at Farmhouse Inn do it. 

The Krush backyard free concerts started last week and this week features the Comatose Brothers (what a name for a band) .  It's that time of year when you just pull up a piece of grassy lawn and kick back- sometimes a lazy summer afternoon and sometimes under the stars. There is some kind of music event going on every single day of the week and a lot of them free. 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WINE COUNTRY CONCIERGE

  
  
  
Erin, Farmhouse concierge

I would like to introduce you to our newest concierge.  Erin Hartman is a recent addition to the Farmhouse Inn concierge team.  She came to us with some inn and hotel experience but was a little amazed about the layers of service and luxury offered here at Farmhouse Inn and how much planning goes into the personalized itineraries we set up for our guests and their perfect wine country vacation. I asked her for a contribution for this week's Wine Country Blog so here's Erin... and thoughts about her new position.

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