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Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

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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!
















10 WAYS TO CELEBRATE ROMANCE IN SONOMA WINE COUNTRY

  
  
  
Sonoma County Wine and Romance

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and for those of you looking to find that perfect romantic getaway, look no further.  Sonoma wine country is the perfect place to sneak away for a romantic lover's retreat, and here at Farmhouse Inn we've become quite the experts at serving up the most romantic meals and special packages available.  So skip the stuffed animal and grocery store red roses (trust us) and let us help you plan the perfect vacation that will sweep your love off their feet! 

At Farmhouse Inn, each concierge has become an expert at knowing what works to set the mood for those looking to score some major points in the romance department.  It's not hard to get some of that lovin' feeling when you're staying at one of Wall Street Journal's 10 Coziest Hotels in the United States.  Whether you're snuggled in front of the fire making your own gourmet s'mores in a Heritage Deluxe Room or soaking in a tub with the window open while your partner enjoys the two-sided fireplace from your own private deck amongst the redwoods in a Barn Luxury Room, there is no escaping the romantic atmosphere here at Farmhouse Inn.

 

Add a Romance Package to your room stay and get a bottle of bubbles, a beautiful bouquet, handmade chocolate truffles and a side-by-side couple's massage at the Farmhouse Spa.  We'll even lend you a little of our magic while you're at your spa treatments and line the bathtub with candles and rose petals, set your champagne glasses and ice bucket along the side, and let you take all the credit! We make sure that each of our guests gets special attention so that no detail goes overlooked in making your getaway absolutely perfect.  This probably has something to do with whyTripAdvisor reviews voted Farmhouse Inn one of the Top 25 Small Hotels in the United States for 2013!

 

Whether you prefer to enjoy a fireside food and wine pairing at one of our partner wineries, or maybe you're keen to walk on the wild side and want to explore some Wild Jungle Love at Safari West this Valentines Day, we can find exactly what you're looking for!  This year, stop by J Vineyards Bubble Room in Healdsburg for a chocolate ménage à trois with new winery chef Jason LaBue (formerly of our partner property Meadowood Inn).  On the menu for February; oyster chowder croquette, beet risotto with cocoa nibs, braised brisket with gnocchi and black trumpet mushrooms, baby red velvet cake and chocolate "three ways". 

Perhaps, though, this all sounds fine and dandy but you're looking for something bigger, grander- the most romantic surprise ever.  Well lucky for you, Farmhouse Inn hosts beautiful, intimate elopements for the couple seeking a moment they can call uniquely their own.  We do everything from finding an officiant and photographer to ordering the cake and the flowers.  All you have to do is show up (bring rings), enjoy a couple's massage and dinner for two at the Farmhouse Restaurant, and when the time comes, say 'I do!'. 

   

 



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...

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. 

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.

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. 

FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGES IN SONOMA...SEXY CARS AND RAM'S GATE

  
  
  
Ramsgate Winery Sonoma

Those Farmhouse Inn concierges are at it again... 

They continually go out and experience all that Sonoma Wine Country has to offer so they can steer the Farmhouse Inn guests to the very best experiences available (remember Anna and her ziplining adventure at Sonoma Canopy Tours?) .  This last week Anna and Meghan went with our Silver Service Steve to Ramsgate Winery and not only checked out the winery but also the Audi Experience at Infineon Raceway.

FARMHOUSE INN "PEEP" SHOW AND A VERY RARE "CABBIT" SIGHTING

  
  
  
yellow duck road to Farmhouse Inn

FOLLOW THE "YELLOW DUCK ROAD" TO EASTER FUN in the wine country...you'll have to read to the end to see a picture we managed to capture of the very rare "Cabbit" sighted here at Farmhouse Inn this morning!  Astonishing!  Was very Eggciting!

Romantic Wine Country - Amore at Farmhouse Inn

  
  
  
Valentine's Day Farmhouse Inn

We think we are pretty romantic here at the Farmhouse Inn...
seems to be a common descriptive term from our guests, too.  And of course, Valentine's Day is right around the corner so we have been talking to a lot of guests cooking up their very special romantic getaways to the wine country. 

The guys seem to be more on top of things this year- getting flowers ordered, special champagne on ice, romantic spa treatments (Have you seen the Playful Passion treatment?)  We've got a few proposals in the works and even one of our romantic elopements scheduled for Valentine's Day- shhh... can't tell you who yet. Seriously, we think we have the romance for the whole month of February pretty well covered. Catherine decorated guest services for the month with special treats for the guests to help themselves to.

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