Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Follow Me

Browse by Tag

Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

SONOMA'S FARMHOUSE INN VISITS ANOTHER WINE COUNTRY

  
  
  
Tuscany2

Love Letters from Italy (our second favorite wine country)

If you follow us on Facebook you may have noticed that Farmhouse Inn recently spent some time abroad. Last month we were in Italy; basking in the glow of sunshine, strolling through vineyards and olive groves, and gazing at beautiful old villas perched on the hillsides. While we were officially there to work (we know, we couldn’t believe it either), we didn’t waste a minute of the 2 weeks we had. 


There is something truly special about Italy. As we meandered through Italy’s historic villages, we were reminded of why artists have been depicting this part of the world as utopic for centuries. The light, the food, the people- they all come together to create an experience that is evocative and compelling. We thought we’d highlight some of the moments from our trip.


 

 

We arrived in Milan via New York. As we were flying to Milan we passed over the Swiss Alps- not a bad beginning to the trip. Our first destination and the reason for our visit, was Castello di Casole. Casole is located just south of Florence and right between Milan and Rome. The Castello di Casole Estate has a rich history dating back to 3000 B.C. - its proximity to the Elsa River made it a desirable location for many farmers, especially for those growing wheat, corn, olives and grapes.




We were fortunate enough to have been selected as a partner hotel in one of Castello’s Eat and Drink Experience Packages. In addition to our families, we also brought over Farmhouse Chef Steve Litke and Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth. Over 5 days we enjoyed tours of Siena, wine tastings with vignerons, cooking classes with chefs, and yes we’ll admit, some time by the pool. Castello’s rooms, hospitality and amazing location all made for a great 5 days. We hope to one day have some of their team visit us at Farmhouse Inn, and if you were able to join us in Casole, we hope to see you stateside soon!

 






THE BEST OF SONOMA AND GLEN ELLEN

  
  
  
Sonoma


 

Last week’s blog post focused on a perfect day in Sonoma's Healdsburg and the Russian River Valley. We have come to the realization that one post on a perfect day in wine country wasn’t nearly enough. Sonoma County is an extremely large and diverse county - the size of Rhode Island and stretches from the Mayacama Mountains to the Sonoma Coast. There is much to see and do here (and we have so many perfect days). 


This part of the California wine country has many great day-trip options; this week we’re heading to Sonoma Valley to visit our top three breakfast, hiking, and winery stops in Sonoma and Glen Ellen. If you missed last week’s post or are new to this blog click here to catch up.

 



A frequent question we hear from our guests here at Farmhouse Inn as they are headed out for the day is: "
Where can I find a strong cup of coffee and/or a latte?" Fear not, we’ve done plenty of research on this topic. Next time you visit Sonoma or Glen Ellen make a stop of one of these favorites.


1. Open 7 days per week is the Sunflower Caffé right on the Sonoma Plaza just one door down from the El Dorado Hotel. Great coffee and espresso drinks are available as well as many breakfast basics. Sunflower also has some great additions like a spicy chicken slider.


 










A PERFECT DAY IN SONOMA COUNTY: A FEW OF OUR SECRETS

  
  
  
Morning in Sonoma


Living and working in Sonoma County offers many benefits; one of which is that we get do all the things the press write about as being a “must do on your next visit to California’s wine country".  It's no secret that summer is an amazing time of year to visit wine country and only next to harvest in terms of things to do and general excitement .  Here's a few summer perks we enjoy every day : Farmers’ markets, floating on the river, Music on the Green, and an all time favorite; dining al fresco with wine and friends. The Farmhouse Inn concierge team is often asked what we would do for a perfect day in the wine country. Fear not- we’ve done it before and are excited to share the wonders of life in Sonoma County with our guests.

  

If you’re anything like us, the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is “where is my coffee?” 

 


FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGE: SONOMA SUMMER WINE PICKS

  
  
  
Summer in Sonoma

Locals living in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys associate spring time with the release of the newest vintages of white and rose wines. It is the time of year when we start making our summer plans and stocking our refrigerators for the coming months of picnicking near the Russian River and music on the square in Healdsburg. These delightful new releases always seem to perk us up out of our “winter” stupor. Whether your favorite is a Chardonnay or a Rose of Pinot Noir, we’ll go through the range of some of our favorites being released just in time for summer.


Let's start on the lighter end of the white wines,  with the Sauvignon Blancs from the area that we can’t resist. For Sauvignon Blanc we recommend you head up to Dry Creek Valley where the warmer climate, limited daytime coastal influence and combination of gravelly and sandy loam soils make it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc. Our favorites come from Preston and Quivira. Preston’s Sauvignon Blanc has the classic citrus qualities of grapefruit and lime with touches of green apple. Perfect with summer vegetables and of course a selection of your favorite cheeses! Quivira’s Sauvignon Blanc comes from their well-known Fig Tree Vineyard on their estate. Quivira’s Sauvignon Blanc tends to exude more of the tropical notes like pineapple and passion fruit. Always high in acid, the Quivira is a perfect match with veal piccata or a tangy chevre. Be sure to inquire about other white wines available at both Preston and Quivira- the Madame Preston and Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier blend from Quivira are also at the top of our list.


If you like a little more body on your white wines than consider this next category of unique whites. We’ll start with RYME Cellar’s Vermentino. RYME is a small artisan brand from former Farmhouse Inn Sommelier Megan Glaab and her husband Ryan. Ryan and Megan have varying opinions on what Vermentino should taste like so they decided to a His and a Hers. Don’t tell Ryan, but the Concierge team all votes for the Hers. Classic Vermentino tends to have a stony, saline minerality and both versions at RYME exude this. Vermentino can sometimes take on an orange hue (depending on skin-contact during fermentation) and therefore contains tannins making it more robust on the spectrum of white wines. We recommend most seafood dishes and the occasional pesto with your next glass. Another unique white wine coming out of the Russian River Valley is Wind Gap’s Trousseau Gris. With intense mineral aromas (think wet rocks) and pineapple, the Trousseau Gris is zesty and lively on the palate. This wine is one of our favorites with fresh oysters on the half shell. Both the RYME Vermentinos and Wind Gap Trousseau have large followings and quickly sell out every year, so be sure to place your order soon.


On to the king of white wines, Chardonnay.  Bold, full bodied, round, lush and unapologetically barrel-aged, California’s classic Chardonnays continue to be as popular today as they were 30 years ago. While some wineries are experimenting with non-barrel aging techniques, the predominant style still exudes aromas and flavors of butter, popcorn, vanilla, toast and baking spices. Of the Chardonnays that fall in this category we have 2 front runners: Gary Farrell’s Russian River Select and Red Car’s Sonoma Coast. Both wineries have tasting rooms in the Russian River Valley but purchase all their fruit from local growers- this allows them to select the best of the best each vintage. We’re huge fans of Evan Goldstein’s “Perfect Pairings” and his latest “Daring Pairings”. Both books provide pairing guidelines as well as fantastic recipes. We highly suggest referencing one of these books the time you open your favorite California Chardonnay.


To round up our spring list we’re finishing with what might be our favorite category, Rose. Pink, slightly effervescent and smelling of summertime, what’s not to like? Our go-to both in the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant and by the pool is County Line’s Rose of Pinot Noir. County Line is the second label of Radio Coteauowner/winemaker Eric Sussman. The County Line Rose is consistently one of our favorites every year- smelling of watermelon and strawberries, the Rose is extremely quaffable and affordable. No need to hesitate on opening this wine- the $20 price makes it a wine to be enjoyed whenever, wherever. We drink it with everything but if you’d like a little more sophisticated recommendation try it with a scallop sashimi or the perfect naked oyster. Last but not least is Farmhouse Winery Partner Inman Family’s Rose- beautiful, pale, delicate pink and crisp and refreshing, it is without a doubt a standout among the pink wines. With more structure, higher acids and supreme balance, this Rose makes us want to throw a summer dinner party in the vineyards right now. If you want to get fancy on your brunch guests try pairing this Rose with a scrambled egg and smoked salmon or a Quiche Lorraine.


We hope this Concierge Guide to Spring Releases was helpful and that you visit a few of the wineries mentioned on this list during your next vacation to wine country. If you won’t be visiting soon be sure to look for them in your local wine shop or on the wine list at your favorite restaurants. For more winery recommendations, itinerary suggestions and information on the area be sure to email your concierge soon. For more information on the latest happenings at Farmhouse be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.






Farmhouse Inn to the Mendocino Coast: A Weekend Getaway

  
  
  
Lazy Creek Winery

 

Just an hour and a half north of the Farmhouse Inn lies the truly wonderful Mendocino County. Known for its stunning rustic coastline and cooler climate, Mendocino County is a must-see for those visiting Northern California. From Boonville and Philo out to Little River and Mendocino, the area offers everything a traveler could want: great wine and food, amazing views and scenery, picture perfect hiking conditions in the redwoods, and most importantly great people. Whether you’re planning a visit there soon or have considered adding it to your bucket list, we’ve outlined a perfect weekend in Mendocino for you. We assume you are adding Farmhouse Inn onto the beginning or end of your trip; we’ll begin this trip from Farmhouse Inn and head north. 


As you leave the Farmhouse Inn you’ll head up to Cloverdale to connect with Highway 128. This is one of the prettiest drives in all of Northern California but be prepared for some twists and turns as you leave Sonoma County for Mendocino County. Once you’ve cleared the biggest stretch of driving, about an hour, you’ll arrive in Boonville. With plenty of markets and cafes you’ll have a range of locations to choose from- our favorite is Mosswood Market. There are also several tasting rooms in downtown Boonville, so be sure to check out at least one of those. After grabbing a bite to eat it is time to move on and begin the serious wine tasting.



Continue to head north on Highway 128 out of Boonville towards Philo. From well-known brands like Roederer and Scharffenberger to smaller unknowns like Breggo and Toulouse, Anderson Valley has a lot to offer. Due to the cooler climate of the Anderson Valley many of the wineries specialize in Pinot Noirs and cool climate white wines such as Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. If we had our choice the first day visits would include a stop at Roederer for some bubbles, a drop in at Toulouse for for their Pinot Gris and Muscat, and  cap off the day with a visit to Lazy Creek for their Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. Most of the wineries in Anderson Valley are open to visitors every day without an appointment, but be sure to check ahead of time. Another item for the research list should be availability of their wines- due to their small size many of these wineries sell out quickly.


Full up on your new favorite wines it is onto the coast. You’ll take Highway 128 through Philo, past the redwoods and out to Highway 1.  Turn right to head north and onto the town of Mendocino. Without a doubt our favorite overnight spot in all of Mendocino County is the Brewery Gulch Inn. The rooms face the town of Mendocino and its coast and are well appointed. In addition to a truly wonderful breakfast (included in the room rate) you’ll also enjoy their evening wine hour with snacks. Snacks may be understating what they offer- it is a buffet and enough food for most people to go without a dinner reservation somewhere else.  After your stay in one of Inn’s cozy rooms (we recommend the Meadowood Suite if its available) head to downtown Mendocino to explore the town’s galleries and shops. We also recommend heading down to the beach for some hiking. It can be particularly cold on the coast so be sure to bring your layers. Once you’re refreshed from the ocean air its time to hop back in the car.


As you wind back down Highway 1 and Highway 128 we recommend stopping at the truly must-see Navarro Vineyards in Philo. Navarro is an Anderson Valley classic and their wide range of wines and reasonable prices make them a very popular stop for natives and visitors. Their friendly staff is helpful and fun. They sell picnic items so buy your favorite bottle from the list, some lunch items and heading out to a picnic table. Just a bit further down Highway 128 is Goldeneye- a Duckhorn Winery sister property. Goldeneye offers its visitors a seated outdoor tasting with a lovely cheese plate.
 For your last night in Mendocino County we recommend the Boonville Hotel. Recently remodeled the cute cabins are simple but reflect Mendocino’s style. And if you’re staying at the BH then you can’t miss out on their new Table 128 restaurant. Its a new pre-fixe menu every night, which they post online ahead of time. And if you’re there on a Sunday afternoon you can join the Oyster Bar for freshly shucked Tomales Bay oysters.


Have you booked your flight yet? We hope the Farmhouse Inn is a part of your future Northern California visit and that you also take the time to consider a day or two just north of us. All properties, stops and wineries mentioned can be booked directly or with the assistance of a Farmhouse Concierge. Be sure to continue to check our blog, Facebook page and website for information on new packages, vacation inspiration and the latest news from wine country.








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!

 


























All Posts