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

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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!

 


























SONOMA HUNTER GAMES: FORAGING WITH FARMHOUSE INN

  
  
  
Sonoma County Wild Yellowfoot Mushrooms

This winter in Sonoma wine country, a celebration of foraged foods is taking place amongst restaurants, wineries and in the kitchens of local epicureans.  While Dry Creek  and Russian River Valleys may be better known for the wines they produce, the hills and forests of Sonoma County offer up a plethora of edible and delicious wild mushrooms. 

Mushroom hunting was once a hobby only for "old timers" here in Sonoma County, but more recently an entirely new generation of foragers are flocking to Northern California for how-to classes on mushroom hunting, grand mushroom tasting menus, and an entire season of celebrating this native delicacy.


Just north of Farmhouse Inn, the town of Healdsburg showcased the wild bounty of Sonoma County with the Healdsburg Wild Mushroom Weekend, part of Healdsburg's Epicurean Winter.   This seasonal event is lined up for aspiring mycologists and fans of foraged wild mushrooms including hunting expeditions, culinary classes, and fungi-centric Michelin star dinners. 
Several wineries and Healdsburg restaurants have added special wild mushroom menu items for this event- try Barndiva's Rabbit Fricassee with roasted wild Chanterelles or pop into the Jimtown Store for foraged mushroom grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese.  At the heart of Healdsburg's mushroom madness is Relish Culinary School's lineup of Wild Mushroom Forays and Demonstration Lunches with Chef and forager Elissa Rubin-Mahon. 


Here at Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant we had foraging femme Connie Green and guest Chef Sarah Scott join us for a taste of The Wild Table at our first dinner to kick off our guest chef series.  If you missed dinner with us, Connie's book The Wild Table is available for purchase and Chef Sarah Scott will be hosting another Wild Table luncheon at Chateau St. Jean in late March. 

"The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes" is a cookbook full of recipes for foraged delicacies like North Coast mushrooms with more esoteric recipes using some of my menu favorites; fiddleheads, miner’s lettuce and stinging nettles (try them in SCOPA Restaurant’s Stinging Nettle Budino).  The Wild Table Luncheon at Chateau St. Jean with Sarah Scott will be demonstrating how to tame those wild foods and turn them into epicurean delights.  For tickets to this three course meal with five wine pairings you’ll have to act fast!


   

But Foraging isn't just for chefs and their cohorts- with so many easily identifiable edible varieties here in Sonoma County, even us Farmhouse concierges get into the fun of it!  I do my best Katniss Everdeen impression as I head out and explore the coastal forests, keeping a keen eye out for my favorite mushrooms- Black Trumpet Royales, Hedgehogs (easy to identify with their toothy undersides), Yellow Foots and Chantrelles.  In the fall I'm a Porcini hound, but this time of year nearly all of my efforts go into finding those velvety, black trumpets in the forest duff.


With my pocket knife handy to clean the base of the soft mushrooms and my dog making her way through the boxwood and pines alongside me, I head up into the hills with no regard for trails seeing every wooded area as a prospective mycological gold mine.  Finding an upcropping of mushrooms is rewarding and exhilirating because hunting and foraging take skill and practice, making the entire exercise so gratifying that often I find myself using every last bit of available daylight to stay out and search for more.

I am not an expert by any means- I go where I am familiar and only pick what I know, sticking to the varieties that do not have any look-alikes that cause nasty side effects (death, for instance).  As a child, my father would take me up into the hills above our home and vineyards in Dry Creek Valley to hunt for what he called "Italian" mushrooms (also known as cocoras).  The problem with cocoras is that they closely resemble their poisonous relatives (the reason my mother won't eat any foraged mushrooms to this day). 

But have no fear!  Experts like renowned mycologist and author of the ESSENTIAL pocket field guide for western mushrooms David Arora and Charmoon Richardson are here to help.  The Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA) also hosts monthly mushroom hunting and identifying classes, so go boldly forward on your next (or first) foraging adventure!

For those of us who love to cook with mushrooms, we know just how versitile they can be.  I always find that they're best served nestled in something carbo-licious with a touch of cream. 

 My most recent favorites have been this mouthwatering wild hedgehog mushroom and crescenza pizza or a Recipes.com find for the perfect demonstration of late winter/early spring in northern California- Gnocchi with Yellowfoot mushrooms and fresh peas & asparagus from my vegetable garden. 

The other night my entire meal was either grown or foraged here in Sonoma County- mixed greens salad with a poached farm egg and a main course of wild mushroom rissotto and wild duck confit to top it off. 

Are you getting hungry yet?

   

 Signing off Mushroom Forager (Concierge) Extraordinaire















October in Sonoma- Pumpkins, Haunted Houses and Indian Summer

  
  
  
Farmhouse s'mores at firepit
 
Fall in Wine country...October, my favorite...leaves turning, crisp evenings, chilly and foggy mornings, and absolutely perfect 80 degree weather this weekend.  Indian Summer is upon us, the Sonoma grape harvest is getting close to wrapped up, pumpkin patches and harvest everywhere, and several haunted houses to visit - Halloween is right around the corner.

The fireplaces at Farmhouse Inn are starting to get some use, the firepit is very busy every night (love those s'mores)...don't you love the smell of wood smoke in the air?


This is the last weekend for the Tolay Fall Festival on a 1,700+ ranch  outside of Petaluma.  A Native American Village with demonstrations, Kiddie Corral, Creepy Crawly Critters, hay rides and over 5,000 pumpkins (grown by the tolay Twisted Farm) to choose from.  Pumpkin Patch on steroids!  Gunny Sack races and a pumpkin seed-spitting contest. 

 

This is a good weekend for hitting the Pumpkin Patches- you need time to do a spooktacular carving job, don't you?  But if you get distracted you still have time - Healdsburg is having a Pumpkin Festival next Saturday at the Farmer's Market. 

October Wine Country- Pumpkins, Harvest, and Art Trails...

  
  
  
Russian River Fall Color

Northern California weather is pretty amazing all the time but has this Sonoma County weather ever been more perfect?  I forget how much I love October every year...the colors changing, the still warm days (but with that fall crispness in the evenings), all manners of Harvest going on and of course, amazing wine country fall traditions. 

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