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Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

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A BIT OF WINE COUNTRY: FROM FARMHOUSE INN TO YOUR HOUSE

  
  
  
Farmhouse Inn

Every week here at Farmhouse Inn our email box is full of messages from previous guests asking questions about (surprisingly not just all about the wine country) where to purchase the  "Famous Farmhouse Bed" to how to make the fantastic chocolate chip cookies we put in the rooms at turn down. The rising trend of do-it-yourself projects is something we love and we love to help our guests replicate the Farmhouse Inn experience at home. With just a few simple DIY projects you can enjoy a little piece of wine country just about anywhere. Just to focus on a few of our most popular amenities: our turn down treats, the Farmhouse Breakfast (2 courses with recipes), and our spa bar.

 

Each night the bellmen deliver several treats to our the guests’ rooms as part of our turn-down service. While our guests are out enjoying dinner the bellmen leave our homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk by the bed, as well as s'mores kits to enjoy at the outdoor fire pits. The cookies come from our pastry team and are one of the most appreciated Farmhouse Inn treasures. The use of three different kind of chocolate chips (and a lot of butter) have made these cookies popular not only with inn guests, but with folks from all over Sonoma County. We’ve decided to share the recipe with our fans – click here to go to the recipe page. We hope you share photos of your version with us on our Facebook page.

 

The s’mores kits are are a very popular turn down item. The kit is comprised of Valrhona dark chocolate, vanilla bean marshmallows and artisan graham crackers. If you want to make the Farmhouse S’mores at home or on your next camping trip you can purchase the Valrhona chocolate directly from their website (search for Grand Cru Dark Baking Chocolate Caraibe) or on Amazon. The marshmallows we use come from Plush Puffs. In addition to vanilla bean they offer caramel, chocolate chip and several other flavors. These marshmallows are also fantastic in hot chocolate! There are several recipes online to make homemade graham crackers (check out this one from Martha Stewart), however if you need them quickly we recommend picking some up from your local market. If you don’t have a fire pit and aren’t big on camping, check out this oven recipe for s’mores from the Food Network.

 

We recently asked our Facebook fans what their favorite Farmhouse dish was and were surprised how many people wrote in that their favorite is the Farmhouse Breakfast. We hear you fans! Ask and you shall receive. Our Inn Chef, Trevor Anderson, has provided a 2 course Farmhouse Breakfast for you to replicate at home. We always begin breakfast at Farmhouse with fresh seasonal fruit and a homemade sweet.
Today it was fresh summer berries with homemade whipped cream and garden mint. Our main course consists of two components. The first is a romaine salad with house-made bacon vinaigrette and the second is Eggs in a Frame. “Eggs in a Frame” is also known as Kibbee Egg, hen in a nest, moon egg, and cowboy egg. Under any name we think it’s delicious. For our version of Eggs in a Frame and our bacon vinaigrette recipe click here.

 

Another very popular  talked about Farmhouse amenities is our wine country spa bar. Located in Guest Services, the spa bar is a collection of local spa products available for guests to sample and enjoy in their room. We feature a lavender sea salt for the bath, a brown sugar–honey scrub, and 3 different soaps. All the bath bar products come from Sumbody, a local company just down the road from Farmhouse Inn. These products are so much fun to try out and we get a ton of requests to ship some home to guests after they’ve left. An easy DIY spa product project is a sugar scrub. There are all different kinds of sugar scrub recipes out there, but because it’s peach season we like this simple one (click here).

 


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.



HARVEST IN WINE COUNTRY: GRAPES NOT INCLUDED

  
  
  
Wine Grape Harvest

Sonoma County is a great place to visit if you love wine country (and wine), and of course the most popular time to visit is during the  grape harvest. While we love the grape harvest as much as the next person, every year we also get excited about things like tomatoes, peaches, apples, onions, beets, walnuts… we could go on but we’ll stop here for now. We recently had the pleasure of getting out and about in Healdsburg and were able to experience harvest in several different ways. We spent the day visiting Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Shop, Dragonfly Floral and Dry Creek Peach.

 

 

To start our day in a pie and ice cream shop is a pretty good indication of how the remainder of our day was going to be- extraordinary. We were fortunate enough to be the first ones to experience pie making with Noble Folk owners and bakers, Ozzie Jimenez and Christian Sullivan. Noble Folk is the second store for the duo, who also have Moustache Baked Goods in downtown Healdsburg. While the bakery’s focus is on cupcakes and special occasion cakes, Noble Folk offers classic pies and Japanese inspired ice creams.

 

July and August are prime peach and berry season in Sonoma County, so our pie was a reflection of the summer time harvest. We learned how to make a filling and a proper crust. We were also schooled in the artistry of lattice work for the top of the pie. Noble Folk, like many Sonoma businesses, stresses the use of in-season ingredients. We’re looking forward to apple and pumpkin pies this fall. Noble Folk will soon be launching their website and online shopping cart – be sure to get your holiday pie orders in early.


After pie making (and taste testing) we headed over to Dragonfly Floral, just west of downtown Healdsburg. Dragonfly is a six acre farm that specializes in flowers for a variety of events. In addition to flowers they also grow vegetables and raise ducks and chickens. We popped in for a quick tour of the farm and were fortunate enough to meet the duck duo Fred and Ethel.

 

 

Dragonfly has about 4.5 acres of cutting flowers that they use for their arrangements. Our visit to the farm was full of color – roses, dahlias and sunflowers were all in bloom. In addition to providing flowers for events, Dragonfly has been hosting flower arrangement classes. We’re big fans of succulents and their selection was amazing – check out their online calendar for a schedule of classes or stop by for a picnic in their beautiful gardens.

 

Our last stop of the day was at Dry Creek Peach, located on the northern end of Dry Creek Valley. Dry Creek Peach is the only commercial (commercial in this case is only 6.5 acres) organic peach farm in Sonoma County. Dry Creek Peach grows several varieties of peaches including Snow Kings, Red Havens and Arctic Gems. In addition to supplying several local restaurants with peaches (Farmhouse chef Stevo is good friends of the owners), Dry Creek Peach operates a farm stand that is open 4 days a week. You can purchase fresh peaches, their jam and even peach wood cutting boards (we loved these!).

 


FARMHOUSE INN EXPLORES INFLUENCES ON OUR WINE AND FOOD CULTURE

  
  
  
Sonoma Food and Wine

Food and wine are our two favorite subjects … as you may have noticed if you follow this blog or are a fan of our Facebook page.  Located in the middle of the Russian River Valley, the Farmhouse Inn is in the heart of a culinary and viticulture epicenter. Every week we share our newest food and wine findings with our fans, but this week we'll reflect on the changes in food and wine culture through the influence of the media. (We're impressed with our thoughtfulness too.)

Movies and films have had an enormous impact on our local industry, and social media and magazines continue to reflect these changes. Everything from “Sideways” and “Top Chef” to Bon Appétit magazine and Instagram are changing the way we think and talk about food and wine. Three examples of the media’s influence are shifts in wine preferences, the increasing popularity of the local food movement and the way we make travel decisions.

 

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