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Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

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THREE DAYS IN WINE COUNTRY: A SONOMA PLANNING GUIDE

  
  
  
Wine Country, Sonoma and Napa

Planning a long weekend (or more) in wine country? Interested in seeing what the grape harvest looks like? You’re not alone. Many  visitors to Sonoma and Napa during September and October come for a long weekend. While 3 days may seem like plenty of time in wine country, it really is  considered to be a quick visit. There is so much to do in Northern California that those 3 days will fly by quickly. Fear not: there is a team of experts on hand to help plan your visit so you won’t end up spending too much of your time in the car. The Farmhouse Inn concierge team can help plan your visit to Sonoma County. They have suggestions on everything from where to fly into, on where to dine and what activities are worth considering.

 

The major airports in Northern California are located in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. If you’ve been to Sonoma or Napa before then you know that it is at least an hour and a half from any of these airports to wine country. Alternatively, you might fly into our regional airport.  The benefits are endless; they include shorter drive time, a free checked box of wine (they want you to bring the hooch home with you) and a very short security line. That alone will convince you to use the Sonoma County Airport every time. The closest airport to the Farmhouse Inn is just 10 minutes away – a convenient cab ride but you really should rent a car of your own to get around the wine country. You can reserve a rental from one of several counters at the airport. The Sonoma County Airport has direct flights to LAX, Portland, Seattle and San Diego (we’re hearing rumors of additional flights coming soon, so stay tuned). To check flight availability into Sonoma County Airport click here.

 

Where you dine also affects how long you spend in the car (if you like to drive the back roads of wine country this section may not be for you). Our concierges always recommend dining locally – and if you’re staying at Farmhouse Inn “local” can mean a 20 foot walk from your room to the Restaurant. In addition to the Farmhouse Restaurant, Sonoma County is fortunate to have many other wonderful dining options. Be it a specific cuisine, setting, or location; Sonoma has what you’re looking for within a 30 minute drive. (While we understand the appeal of Napa, you might save those restaurants for another trip.) Some of the concierge team’s favorite local restaurants include River’s End and Terrapin Creek on the Sonoma Coast, Chalkboard and SCOPA in Healdsburg, and Twist and Backyard in Forestville (just 5 minutes from Farmhouse!). If you’ll be in town for harvest check the online event calendars at WineRoad.com or WineCountry.com for special winery dinners and events. There is much going on most weekends and especially during September and October.

 


Once you’ve bought your tickets, booked your room at Farmhouse Inn, and made your dinner reservations, let's start planning the fun stuff. Interested in a harvest tour at your favorite winery? Check. Want to visit the coast and redwoods one day? Check. Hot air balloon ride sound appealing? Check. Check. Check. You can do all these things in three days, just plan wisely. Most wineries don’t open until 11 am so the mornings are when you can do things like the hot air balloon ride and a visit to Armstrong Redwoods- sunrise and communing with nature – exactly what you expected on a wine country vacation, right? Once you’ve knocked out your morning activities and have filled up on the Farmhouse breakfast, it is off to the wineries. Harvest is the busiest time of year for wineries, both in the cellars and tasting rooms. For the most exclusive and best of experiences make reservations ahead of time. In addition to tours consider some wine and food pairing options. These experiences are typically stand outs for wine country visitors and availability is limited.

 


Our team of wine country experts is waiting for your call. If you’re more of an email person click here to send us a message. To check availability at the Inn for an upcoming wine country vacation click here. To stay up to date with all of our latest discoveries and recommendations be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



EXCITING NEWS FOR SONOMA COUNTY THIS SUMMER

  
  
  
rosso rosticceria eventi

If you’ve been to Sonoma wine country before than you know that it seems to be an ever changing mix of new wineries, restaurants, shops and places to stay. That propensity to constantly be changing and being on the cutting edge of what is new won’t be any different this summer as new restaurants, tasting rooms and even old fashion ice cream and pie shops open up. From Sebastopol to Healdsburg there are exciting new businesses coming in time for summer and we can’t wait to sample them ourselves. We decided to focus on three in particular- we want to pique your interest in hopes that you’ll visit soon!


Established in 2009, Rosso Pizzeria in downtown Santa Rosa has been a local’s favorite from the day they opened. So popular in fact that they now have a mobile pizza oven and have been catering events all over Sonoma County for the last several years. They were a hit at the Farmhouse Inn Christmas party a few years ago. Their newest venture will open in Santa Rosa but will be a new take on their other 2 restaurants- a mix of food, ping pong and cooking classes. What really sets it apart from their other two restaurants is the new location’s offerings and hours. Unlike the downtown Santa Rosa and Petaluma locations, Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi will be open for early diners beginning at 7 am and closing at 6 pm. They’ll also only be a Monday through Friday location. Offering espresso, pastries, pizzas and ping pong the new location is sure to appeal to the local set- that’s why we’re telling you - check out the wine country like a local.  Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi opens this month and we’ll be sure give it a try and fill you in on an upcoming post on Facebook; be sure to keep checking for our review.


The Barlow in downtown Sebastopol opened  about a year ago with a few wineries, a bakery and some distilleries. It is now in full swing with restaurants, a local market, coffee houses, art galleries and a lot of great events. One of the official Farmhouse Winery Partners, La Follette Winery, opened in the spring of 2013. Another unofficial winery friend is Wind Gap Wines and we’re incredibly excited to see their tasting room open at the end of April, beginning of May. Wind Gap is a favorite of Farmhouse Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, who features several of their wines on the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant Wine List. Their “new” style of winemaking is popular with younger wine drinkers and local wine critic Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle). Wind Gap offers a wide range of wines from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley. Their claim to fame may be their skin-fermented white wines- skin fermentation often causes the wines to take on an orange hue and can really change the aromatics and body of a wine. While this technique is not new to the world of wine, it is a technique that hasn’t been popular in American wine culture until recently. Wind Gap’s wines are very high in demand so if you do visit their tasting room,  don’t be surprised to hear that many of their 2012 and 2013 wines are already sold out. We recommend stopping by on your next visit to the area and get on join their mailing list.


Our last teaser for new offerings in Sonoma is located in Healdsburg. This one is especially near and dear to us as it is the second shop for Moustache Baked Goods, a Farmhouse favorite. We often work with Moustache on special occasion baked goods for our guests, as well as the occasional dessert bar for staff parties. Their current shop on the square in Healdsburg offers everything from cupcakes to macaroons and Blue Bottle coffee drinks. If you haven’t visited yet we are telling you not to miss it on your next trip and take some items home to share. Their newest venture is Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. They’ll be offering up truly unique ice cream flavors as well seasonal pies. If the shop is anything like the bakery we can’t wait to see what they come up with. 


For more insider tips on discovering our Sonoma county secrets be sure to contact your concierge today. For up to date news on happenings at Farmhouse Inn and in the area follow and like us on Facebook. We hope to see you at the Farmhouse Inn soon.





WINE COUNTRY EVENTS- FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGE FAVORITES

  
  
  
budbreak in Sonoma County

 

We don't usually see the beginning of the grape harvest until August (our busiest time in the wine country), but spring in Sonoma Wine Country is pretty busy and just about our favorite time of year.  All around the Russian River Valley we see vineyard crews pruning vines getting ready for the growing season. The worst of winter is over and Spring is just getting ready to bust out all over.

 

I just heard about the first hints of budbreak from a couple of the wineries. Hold your breath now...the vineyards can't stand any hard freezes during this time. You wouldn't think something like this would get us all excited but just look...the beginnings of that amazing wine in your glass.

 

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 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.

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.)

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. 

MORE WINE COUNTRY... and BARREL TASTING IN PARADISE!

  
  
  
Joe's new puppy "Cookie"

Last week was all about the very unique Patrick Amiot sculptures sprinkled around Sebastopol...this week a bit more elegant with a lovely Sonoma County Sculpture garden at one of our favorite wine country hangouts.

Paradise Ridge Winery has a very interesting sculpture garden but even better they are perched up on the hill above Santa Rosa with a view over the city that is just amazing.  In summertime  (May through October) their Wines and Sunsets is just the place to be on Wednesday evening. Pick up a picnic and head up to catch the amazing western sky with a bottle of wine available for purchase after 6 pm on those evenings.  A few things this week brought our focus to Paradise Ridge. 

One- Joe got a new black lab puppy (yet to be named- see the Farmhouse Inn Facebook page for the scoop on that).  He and Catherine are good friends with Sonia and Dan Barwick over at Paradise and they had some wonderful puppies available.  Sonia is an old friend of Cath's (and part owner at the winery) and Dan is her husband and the winemaker. 
 

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