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Farmhouse Inn and Inn Sights to the Wine Country...

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WINE COUNTRY TO BIG SUR: A CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

  
  
  
California coast, Jenner

With summer quickly approaching many people are making their vacation plans. Whether you’re living in California now or plan on visiting, a road trip up or down California’s coastline should be on your bucket list. We recommend you take a week to explore everything from Northern California’s wine country to Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn and all the little gems in between. We’ve put together our dream California coast road trip to share and hopefully inspire you to do your own. We’ll begin at the top and work our way down with some trip highlights.


Start in Sonoma County- many people don’t realize this but Sonoma has its own regional airport with direct flights to/from San Diego, LAX, Portland and Seattle. 

Once you’ve arrived head over to the Farmhouse Inn to check in for at least a 2 night stay in the wine country. Enjoy a glass of wine on your private balcony, unwind from a day of travel and head down to the Farmhouse Restaurant for a fantastic dinner with wine pairings. Begin the following morning with the famous Farmhouse breakfast before you head out for a day of exploring. 

Swing by Armstrong Redwoods for a quick hike, down to the Russian River for some kayaking and out to Jenner for a glass of champagne and oysters at River’s End. Return to Farmhouse for a little self-indulgence: a spa treatment with steam shower sounds about right. If you’re wiped out from a big day then we recommend an in-room picnic- stop by the Front Desk to check out their wares. The following morning its off to Highway 1 after another amazing breakfast.


Take Highway 116 from the Farmhouse through the Russian River area out to the Sonoma Coast and Highway 1. Make a quick stop at Goat Rock Beach to stretch your legs and work off some of that breakfast. As you wind down Highway 1 enjoy a crab sandwich at one of the highway shacks. Stop in Bodega Bay for some sight seeing and to enjoy the town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.” As Highway 1 curves in you’ll come to Tomales Bay, home to Hog Island Oysters. It is on our list of must-see stops. We recommend making an appointments but you can drop in without one.  As you finish the day’s driving you’ll arrive at the stunning and historic Cavallo Point for a 2 night stay. Be sure to dine in the Murray Circle Restaurant and to try out the spa at least once during your visit.

 

 



SONOMA WINE COUNTRY AND FARMHOUSE INN: IN THE NEWS (AGAIN)

  
  
  
best of Sonoma Wine country

 

We've been seeing Sonoma Wine Country featured in both the local and national press quite often lately.  Whether discussing wine destination regions, reviewing up and coming winemakers or focusing on sustainability practices, recent press mentioning Sonoma has inspired us to do a roundup just in case you missed something.

 

SONOMA COUNTY AND FARMHOUSE INN- GREEN AND GETTING GREENER

  
  
  
Farmhouse Inn Tesla Test Drives

 

It is hard to live in the California wine country and not embrace farm-to-table cuisine. If a restaurant does not celebrate the bounty of our Sonoma County farms and farmers it does not last long in this area.  The focus of our chef and the restaurant menu on organic, sustainable, and local purveyors is often more expensive but as the diners continually tell us - it is so worth it. That is only one facet of our approach to becoming more environmentally friendly (and healthier and it tastes better too) and embracing all things green.

 

Recently Tesla Motors brought up two of their S sedans to offer test drives and we had a charging station installed just to be able to do that. What an exciting day that was!

 



NATIONAL HEIRLOOM EXPOSITION...RIGHT HERE IN SONOMA COUNTY

  
  
  
National Heirloom Exposition

The end of summer is the perfect time to explore Sonoma County. Living in California is definitely not hard to take-Sunny days, a little cooler evenings and all the flavors of summer harvest around us. It is harvest time in the wine country and the grapes are making their way on their magical journey from the vine to the bottle. This week the National Heirloom Exposition  (the World's Fair of Pure Food) is right here in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. It is the third year for the Expo and it just keeps getting bigger and better each year.  If you are in the area this Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (and the words organic, sustainable, and biodynamic are in your vocabulary) I sincerely hope you can make it.


 




SONOMA WINE COUNTRY WEEKEND AND HARVEST TIME

  
  
  
Grapes ripening in Sonoma


It's September and harvest time in the wine country.  The weather is beautiful and as we head into Labor Day weekend in Sonoma Wine Country, there is no better time to come and share what this paradise on earth offers.  Harvest has arrived in the Russian River Valley; here at Farmhouse Inn our guests are getting the complete experience at our partner wineries.  Nearby neighbors Thomas George Estates and Gary Farrell Winery  are already receiving the earliest ripening grape varietals; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay,and even some Pinot Noirs are coming in from the warmer areas of Russian River Valley.



It's a very busy time of year here in the wine country. The vines are heavy with fruit and the late night/early morning lights and rumble of grape trucks are a constant reminder that harvest time is upon us.

 
This weekend we celebrate one of California's most favorite wine regions with Sonoma Wine Country Weekend; the largest and most fun charitable event of the area.  



Our wine and food community invite you to indulge in the Sonoma County lifestyle of world class wine and fresh, local cuisine, all while raising funds that make a better future for our kids and our county. Produced in partnership by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and the Sonoma County Vintners the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend event features Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch, Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola winery and many intimate and exclusive winery lunch and dinner parties at multiple locations throughout Sonoma County. The event benefits more  than 30 Sonoma County charities that help students, children, farm workers and  people in need.

There will be 200-plus wineries and chefs showcasing their talents at Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch.  You will see Farmhouse Restaurant Chef Steve Litke there serving his famous Octopus Brochettes. (No picture just yet but that is a link to the recipe). See you there!

 

The entire month of September is a month long celebration of the diversity and quality of California wines. Regions throughout the state are highlighted during California Wine Month.  Wineries are celebrating with more than 100 fun educational activities--from hands-on workshops and wine pairings to VIP tours, events, and special offers to allow visitors to experience the excitement of harvest firsthand. Did you know California's wine industry produces 90 percent of U.S. wine, attracts 21 million visitors annually, and generates 820,000 jobs nationwide (330,000 of which are in California)?  That is cause to celebrate! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last days of summer and harvest time in the Russian River Valley is a great time to visit and enjoy all Sonoma county has to offer. If you've never seen harvest in action, you've probably never felt the excitement as tractors and trucks bounce down vineyard roads and shouts from the crews picking grapes fill the foggy morning air. 

 

Harvest is the culmination a year of hard work (and a little praying).  All this to get that little grape into the bottle and into your glass...Here's a little video...The Life of a Grapevine to fill you in on the whole process.




We have some grapes growing on the fence out by the pool here at Farmhouse Inn...you are welcome to come by and harvest some yourself. They are just about ready.

We continue the celebration of harvest the first weekend in October with the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa, complete with a Grape Stomp Competition.  (Maybe this video can help you with what to do with those grapes you stole off the fence.)

 

 

The Harvest Fair celebrates the local harvest featuring three full days of all-inclusive wine tasting with 150+ wineries, wine sales, food pairing, craft beer & cider tasting, marketplace, chef demonstrations and workshops, and of course, the World Championship Grape Stomp and much more.

Make plans to join us and taste the best of Sonoma County!

 


























INTRODUCING THE GARDEN BOSS AT SONOMA'S FARMHOUSE INN

  
  
  
Jana, Farmhouse Inn Gardener

      Jana Mariposa Muhar,  Garden Boss at Farmhouse Inn

We just had the Resorts and Blooms Garden Tour for charity this weekend and Jana was out conducting tours of the property and answering the visitor's questions all day. We had put signage all around the property to help guests with identification but there is no way we can include everything on a sign.  We thought it was a great time to introduce her and share some information about the Farmhouse Inn gardens.


Our guests here at Farmhouse seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of Jana's efforts in the gardens.  Between the California climate and some things very unfamiliar to our out of state or even out of the country visitors we get a lot of questions about the gardens.  Every morning walking back towards the office we run into guests enjoying a beautiful Sonoma morning in our gardens, cameras (phones) clicking away, and lots of questions... 


"What is that bush that looks like it is full of strawberries?"  (Strawberry tree- Arbutus Marina- The fruit is edible with a flavor likened to a mixture of kiwi fruit and strawberry but as with the fruit of the common strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, the texture is gritty. It is a good habitat planting, as both birds and bees enjoy the tree, the former feeding on the fruit, and the latter on the nectar.) "What do you do when the deer come?" (Nothing- they were here first and we try to plant enough for everybody).  "What is that fast little birdie with the fluorescent pink head?" (Crazy hummingbirds- we have 4 species that visit the property and that one is a male Anna's).  "What was that thing that looked like a turkey on my patio this morning?" (It was a wild turkey, of course.) 

The Farmhouse gardens include ornamental, culinary, habitat, and native plant gardens employing exclusively organic practices to create habitat that is attractive and safe for birds, honeybees, frogs, lizards, native pollinators, and many other little-noticed critters. You can pick up a map with plant lists at the Concierge desk.  But let's just take a little tour of a bit of the gardens: 


The entry garden on the North side of the restaurant is planted with shrubs and perennials that will be supplemented seasonally to be blooming and lovely all year long.  Along the walkway are planted Camellias, Daffodils, Tritelia, Hellebores, Primulas (3 species), and Pulmonaria blooming in Winter/early Spring, followed by Hydrangeas, Viburnums, Hostas, Rhododendron, Foxgloves, Francoa, and Fuchsias, carpeted with the lovely native Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregona), evergreen and blooming in late Spring.  Serbian Bellflower, Campanula poscharskyana takes over blooming after the Redwood Sorrel, and the Oak Leaf Hydrangea also provides Autumn color, along with the delicate Japanese Anemones.  Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Giant Chain Fern (Woodwardia fimbriata), both California natives, make a strong architectural backdrop.   Our European Bay is to the West side of the stairs.

Along the driveway are the reliable Common Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Shasta Daisies, Mexican Mock Orange (Choisya ternata), and our native Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii);  Red Penstemons (‘Firebird’ and ‘Red Phoenix’), Cape Fuchsia(Phygelius), Physostegia, Foxgloves, and Columbines make this area a Hummingbird Resort spot.  Next year the Peonies should be established and blooming along with the stunning Oriental Poppies, Ranunculus, and Dahlias.  The fragrance of the Star Jasmine is quite pronounced and delightful on warm evenings as is the Mock Orange with a lovely orange blossom scent when it blooms.

And on to the Spa Shade Garden:






SONOMA WINE COUNTRY FROM 2 WHEELS- AMGEN, GRANFONDO, AND YOU

  
  
  
Biking wine country style


The Amgen Tour of California ends...the grand finish...in Santa Rosa this Sunday. The race started last Sunday down in Escondido, Southern California. With all the attention on the race and all things cycling we thought we would share some of the magic of Sonoma wine country from 2 wheels.

Sonoma County has been getting quite a name for itself in the cycling world. This year the last stage of the Amgen Tour of California starts in San Francisco and ends in Santa Rosa this Sunday. 

 
Levi's GranFondo is October 5th with over 7,000 bikers participating, and the Vineman Triathalon events in July bring the athletes out in droves. With our rolling landscapes (one guest said it was like a picture postcard around every turn) two-wheeled wine country adventures can really help burn off some of those extra calories you might consume from wine tasting and dining at our amazing restaurants. (I promise you Chef Steve does not pay attention to calories when he cooks for you.) Biking along the Russian River throughout Sonoma County is an incredible way to enjoy the wine country.

 

Our friend Dave, over at Adventures in Cycling , has created custom tours (something for all levels of cycling expertise) for the guests of Farmhouse Inn interested in cycling the county. Here are a few examples and some pictures of some of our guests (and new friends) enjoying the wine country.

  • The Pinot Cycling Tour....We start our ride from The Farmhouse Inn, riding up Westside road through the Russian River Valley visiting our winery partners that specialize in Pinot Noir; Arista, Porter Creek, VML Wineries, for example. The distance we ride is up to the guest, I've had guests ride 12 miles up and 12 miles back. Other guests want to taste more so we ride 6 miles up and 6 miles back. All the tours include a wonderful picnic lunch at a winery, that includes meats, cheeses, salad, and dessert, stops along the way to admire scenery and the vineyards. Tour time 10:00 am to 3:30.

 

  • The Zin/Cab Biking Tour.... We drive up to the Dry Creek Valley (a 15 minute drive) to start our ride. We visit some of our winery partners, Dry Creek Vineyards, barrel tasting at Zichichi Winery, or Lambert Bridge who specialize in Zinfandel and Cabernet. Again the riding distance and number of wine stops is up to you. Riding 15 to 20 miles though Sonoma County we will have time for 3 to 4 tastings. Picnic lunch at one of of our partner wineries. Tour time 9:30 to 3:30.

 

  • The Serious Cyclist Tour.....whether you bring your own bike or want to rent a road bike, we can take you out to ride King's Ridge, Coleman Valley Road to the ocean, or set up a 50 mile flat loop- all part of Levi's famous GranFondo. A great day / ride is to ride from the Farmhouse Inn over to Occidental, across Coleman Valley Road to the Sonoma Coast, then north up HWY 1 to the Russian River, turn inland along the Russian River ending our ride at Armstrong Redwoods for a BBQ lunch.

 

  • Easy Bike Ride Guests depart the Farmhouse Inn and we drive over to Graton to the Joe Rodota Trail, part of the West County Trail ,we ride for an hour or so, stop at Taft Street Winery or a couple of the West Sonoma County wineries (optional), when we finish riding we load back in the van and go on to Iron Horse Winery or Armstrong Redwoods for a picnic lunch. This is the perfect ride for the not so aggressive rider that doesn't feel comfortable biking our back roads. Most of the trail is an old railroad bed that has been paved and is completely removed from traffic. You can actually pick up the trail right behind Farmhouse Inn in Forestville and bike all the way to Santa Rosa (about 18 miles) and it is just slightly hilly in a couple of spots.



    So next time you are headed for the wine country...give Farmhouse Inn a call and let's see if we can't include one of Dave's custom tours in your itinerary. Of course, the perfect finish for the day is a glass of wine out by the pool or how about a spa treatment at the Farmhouse Spa to finish off the day!
















SONOMA COUNTY...THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

  
  
  
Farmhouse Inn concierge Mary Calla

GUEST POST FROM FARMHOUSE INN AND OUR NEWEST MEMBER OF THE CONCIERGE TEAM...
Mary Calla (and looks like our up and coming poet and photographer extraordinaire)

 


BEST WINE COUNTRY DESTINATION - SONOMA...AGAIN!

  
  
  
Sunset Wine Country Face-Off

First it was Sunset Magazine and their "Napa vs. Sonoma Face-off" with the two rivals slugging it out over which wine country has "the juice" and, of course, Sonoma edged out Napa. 

We thought that it might have been a little prejudicial as Sonoma is more up Sunset's alley- they are not big on the corporate style so dominate over in that "other" wine country. On top of which the Sonoma side of the story was written by Rod Smith, husband to one of the Farmhouse Inn proprietors, Catherine Bartolomei-Smith. (Perhaps just a little partial to Sonoma and the lifestyle they enjoy here.) 

Here's an excerpt from Rod's take on Sonoma County: "The county’s 1,576 square miles are a sprawling garden of organic produce, free-range meats, and since 1824, grapes. (George Yount planted Napa’s first vines in the 1830s, using Sonoma cuttings.) Napa offers the thrill of tasting wines few can afford and eating trendy food cooked by the employees of celebrity chefs. In Sonoma, you can access countryside, towns, and tasting rooms—sans appointment—to try some of the most distinctive and innovative wines available. True, pockets have trended upscale. Limos? Check. Celebs like Lady Gaga looking to buy? Check. But at heart, this is authentic country open to visitors—casual and wine snob alike."

Even though we were excited about the article (and seeing Rod's byline) and the outcome we were hesitant to crow too loudly. But then Sunset took a vote from their readers and Sonoma won hands down (at one point the voting was 10164 votes for Sonoma against a mere 236 for Napa). Those Sunset readers really know their stuff.  So take that Napa! We are no longer the poor little sister.

But now we really do have something to crow about!  The new Travelers Choice Award for Wine country destinations just came out from TripAdvisor.  The destinations are rated by the millions of travelers that use the TripAdvisor site.  And Sonoma County came out #1 in the U.S. (yes, in front of and on top of Napa) and #2 in the WORLD (just behind Tuscany- and Napa didn't even get on the world list).  So watch out world...we are on the map!







SONOMA SUMMER WINDS DOWN ...LAST FLURRY OF EVENTS

  
  
  
Sonoma county Rainbow

We are hearing people lamenting summer soon being over...but in California and in particular in Sonoma County we still have at least 2 more months of summer AND IT IS PACKED FULL!  We got our first hint of fall the other night when we actually had some clouds in the sky (the remains of some storm from the southland that got pulled in) and we were all out in awe of the beautiful sunset...sunny skies and perfect weather every day gets kind of boring, you know. Take a look at this picture of gorgeousness our lead Concierge, Anna, took the other night.

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