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DUNGENESS CRAB SEASON IN SONOMA COUNTY

  
  
  
Mary Calla Rowan, Farmhouse Inn concierge



Celebrating Crab Season from Farmhouse Inn bloggess
Mary Calla Rowan, 
concierge and Sonoma County enthusiast 

 

 

 

 

 





4 EXCELLENT REASONS TO VISIT WINE COUNTRY IN NOVEMBER

  
  
  
November in Sonoma

In Sonoma and Napa September and October have traditionally been the busiest months to visit, both in the vineyards and in the tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels. However, a new trend is on the rise in wine country: November is becoming a very popular time to visit too. November is what we usually refer to as a “shoulder” month – the time of transition between what is the busiest time of year and our more relaxed winter season. While this has been true for a while, we have noticed a change. November’s sunny brisk weather has been drawing an increasing number of visitors to wine country this month, as are the smaller crowds and beautiful fall colors. Even though harvest is over, there is plenty to do in wine country. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to come visit us here at Farmhouse Inn, let us help you: here are 4 reasons to visit wine country in November.

 

SONOMA'S FARMHOUSE INN AND A GETAWAY SPECIAL FOR HOLIDAYS

  
  
  
Dungeness crab and wine country

Brace yourself! The holidays are coming. The day after Halloween and thinking turns to the upcoming holiday season and family celebrations. The first Saturday of November (that would be today) is traditionally Sonoma County's opening of recreational Dungeness crab season and and just two weeks later the commercial season opens- usually just in time for Thanksgiving. I always look forward to the first taste of our very special Dungeness each year and it does appear on holiday menus throughout wine country. Chef Stevo manages to incorporate the meaty crustaceans in some form on the Farmhouse Inn menu the entire season. Several months of the winter crab season bring the hugely popular crab feeds- a great way to support our local charities and feast on the local delicacy at the same time. And what goes better with crab than your favorite wine? 

 

FARMHOUSE INN WITH HOLIDAY FOOD AND WINE FAVORITES

  
  
  
Winter Vineyards


We freely admit it; we’re spoiled here at Farmhouse Inn. Living in Sonoma County we have immediate access to some of the finest food and wine in the world; so imperative as we head into the holiday season. If you’re hosting family and friends this season than you know how important the food and beverage menus are. A little more bragging about how great the food in wine country is (we promise we’ll stop soon): Just this week the 2015 Michelin Guide was released – for those who don’t know, the Michelin Guide was established in France and is a 3 star system of rating Restaurants, and is considered by many to be the most reliable restaurant ranking system in existence. As of 2015, Michelin rates only 3 areas within the U.S.: NYC, Chicago and San Francisco / Wine Country. In addition to world-class food, Napa and Sonoma are the gateway to international award winning wines from the U.S. Okay, we’re done bragging now. You don’t have to live in wine country in order to enjoy the best of the food and wine world. Here is what we’re eating and drinking this holiday season:

 

                                                                                     

Thanksgiving

You have your classics of course: turkey, ham, potatoes, gravy, and many other accoutrements. Here at Farmhouse Inn we certainly serve up a classic meal (sorry, we’re already sold out for this year!), but if you’re anything like our Concierge team you sometimes enjoy something a little left of normal. This Thanksgiving, in addition to watching football, we’ll be serving up ahi tuna, kale salad, and spiced honey cake with caramelized figs to name a few. (Since we’re at the end of fig season you can use jarred figs or substitute with persimmons). Quite the menu – yes, we’re patting ourselves on the back!

 

With so many flavors and varying levels of sweet and spice, it’s important to pick wines that work well with a variety of dishes. There are several wine varieties that are easily paired with a holiday menu. One of our favorites is Grenache – light, fruity, just a hint of earth and spice. From the same neck of the woods (Rhone) is another classic – Mouvedre. Mouvedre is well known as the “meaty” grape. It tends to almost have a brined / salty profile. It is excellent with most holiday meals as it truly compliments almost anything. Some of our favorite domestic Rhone wines come from Dry Creek Valley. Check out the current offerings from Quivira and Frick wineries – place your orders soon because the holidays will be here before you know it!  

 

Christmas

If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays- fret not! Our classic wine country menu begins with citrus champagne cocktails (as all meals should), before we move onto roast beef with red wine gravy, butternut squash – apple soup, and sweet potato crème brulée. Keeping the holiday menu seasonal is an easy thing to do in wine country with so much to choose from year-round. Some of our favorite winter items are listed in our menu above - butternut squash, persimmons, sweet potatoes, and kale.

 

Just like with our Thanksgiving menu, it is important to find wines that work well with a range of dishes. Considering that our entrée contains red wine gravy it is important to serve red wine with that dish. In this case we’re inclined to go with a well-balanced Bordeaux blend from our neck of the woods. Consider the exquisite wines from Calluna Vineyards. The limited production release of their Cuvee blend tops our list of holiday wines. If you’re more of a Pinot-file consider the 2012 Laguna West Pinot from Fog Crest Winery.  You probably have at least one family member who refuses to drink red wine – there is a solution for these picky drinkers. Try orange wines. Hear us out – orange wines are actually wines made from white wine grapes. The winemaking techniques used for these wines veer away from traditional white winemaking practices, and include skin fermentation. One of the most popular “orange wine” grapes in Sonoma County is Trousseau Gris – check out the offering from Two Shepherds. The orange wines work for the bolder dishes because of their larger body and complexity. The unexpected aromas of watermelon and red berries are often conversation starters at the dinner table.  

 

 

New Year’s Eve

Champagne. Really! Do you need anything else?

 

 

 

To stay current with the latest news in wine country and happenings at the Farmhouse Inn be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To book your holiday visit to the Farmhouse Inn contact your concierge at innkeep@farmhouseinn.com or by calling 707-887-3300.


RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES IN WINE COUNTRY

  
  
  
California Sunshine

Sunshine, beaches, warm weather – for many, the classic image of California. While the warm weather and sunshine certainly epitomize California for the majority of the year, come November we enter what Californians refers to as “winter” (we freely admit that we’re weather wimps – if you dropped us in Chicago in December we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves). As we leave October and our warm Indian summer behind us, we see the leaves fall to the ground and the creeks and river rise. Lower temperatures and rains are welcome – comfy sweaters, warm fires, hot cocoa and our favorite soups accompany the shift and are some of our favorite things. If you’ve been considering a trip to wine country but have been hesitating because of possible rain... have no fear; winter might indeed be the best time for a visit. We’ll take you through our three favorite things to do in wine country when it rains – the list may surprise you.

 

At the top of our rainy day-list is staying indoors. Farmhouse Inn is the perfect place to be during a rain storm. A big comfy bed, your own private fireplace, soaker tub, and windows all around – truly the best way to enjoy a stormy day. If it rains while you’re at Farmhouse we recommend the following rainy day plan. Start the fire in your room – depending which room you’re in you’ll either have a gas or wood burning fire place. Turn down the covers on your bed. Use your in-room brewer to make a warm beverage of your choice – we like a nice cup of tea. Open all the blinds to watch the rain fall. Pick a movie and cozy up in bed to enjoy. You won’t need to leave your room all day. If you truly don’t want to leave your room all day, order a wine country picnic the night before – it will be delivered to your room. If you want to really do it up open one of the bottles of wine available for purchase in the room – we recommend the Lost and Found Pinot Noir.

 

Our next rainy day item may surprise some. For you adventure seekers, it may already on your bucket list: Zip lining through the redwoods. While this activity can certainly be done when the sun is shining, zip lining through the trees as the rain comes down is a spectacular experience. 800 feet of zip lines stretch through the redwoods of Occidental – you’ll zoom through the trees at up to 25 miles per hour. The rain clears the air and the sights and smells of the forest around you seem to open up. You’ll need to wear layers (we recommend rain coats and pants on the outside) and you’ll certainly want a warm beverage following your tour among the canopy. Whether you’re a first-timer or a pro, on your next rainy day visit to wine country we recommend a journey through the canopy – our preferred zip line operator is Sonoma Canopy Tours. Click here to learn more about the offered experiences.

 

The last item on our list likely comes as no surprise: wine tasting. While we certainly recommend using caution on Sonoma’s winding back roads in rainy weather (and all the time really), visiting wineries on rainy days is often the best time to do so. The rain keeps many people home, leaving tasting rooms relatively quiet. This means more one-on-one time with your wine educator and often impromptu tours of the winery. There are several wineries we particularly enjoy on a rainy day. If you’re looking for a room with a view try Fog Crest Winery on Occidental Road. They have a warm fireplace, lounge seating and gorgeous full-wall windows looking out on Laguna de Santa Rosa. Our other rainy day favorite is J Winery on Old Redwood Highway in Healdsburg. If you’re able to visit during the month of December then you are in for a truly spectacular experience- the J Bubble Room becomes a winter wonderland all December long. The Bubble Room menu features all of their sparkling wines and there is an optional caviar add-on. Feeling decadent anyone? Because the experience takes about 2 hours and is all inside, it is the ideal rainy day activity.

 

Come rain or shine, it is always a good time to visit wine country. We recently had some overnight showers, but we’re looking forward to full days of cloudy weather. For more information on the Farmhouse Inn visit our website at www.farmhouseinn.com. To stay current on our latest jaunts in and around Sonoma County follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’d like to book an upcoming stay at the Farmhouse Inn or need to speak with the Concierge Team click here

PUMPKINS, WINE COUNTRY, AND MOVIES-- OH MY!

  
  
  
Fall in Sonoma

There is much to love about wine country in the fall; the changing colors of harvest time, the seasonal foods, the Halloween parties, and of course, the wine.

In wine country we know how to celebrate our favorite time of year with style. All around Sonoma County the pumpkin patches and corn mazes have begun to open, the vineyards have caught on fire with bright hues of red, orange and yellow, and the old barns dotting the countryside seem to take on a special haunted appearance just for the season. If you're coming to Sonoma or Napa any time soon, there is plenty to do. Whether you’re looking for grape harvest activities, film festivals, or Halloween celebrations, you’ll find them in wine country.    

 

October is a turning point for us here in wine country. Harvest is almost finished, and just as we take the our favorite costumes out of the closet for Halloween parties, we will see the very last of the fruit come in. All the grapes that stubbornly waited to ripen finally seem to give up the ghost (pun intended) and are perfect for picking the last week of October. (Out of the vineyard and into the cellar – just in time too. Who wants to celebrate Halloween and get up at 4 am the next morning to pick grapes?) Come to wine country to celebrate the harvest in the next few weeks; you'll have a splendid buffet of options to pick from. Coming up next week Bacigalupi Vineyards will be celebrating their Fall Release and Harvest Celebration. BBQ, grape stomping, not to mention all the flowing wine! If you’re looking for an evening affair the Trione Winery family will be hosting Dinner Under the Stars the 19th of this month. Dinner in the vineyards (wines included of course) and Bocce Ball – we hope to see you there!

Many festival and event weekends happen this time of year; we think that there are two standouts. One of the largest events in North Bay is the Napa Valley Film Festival. Spanning 5 days, with 125 screenings, 300 directors, 50 chefs and 125 wineries, the event is on our bucket list. Screened films will range from documentaries and narratives to genre films like “The Fault in Our Stars”. If you’re not a film buff Pinot on the River may be more your speed. Sunday, October 26th the downtown Healdsburg square will become a Pinot Heaven – 100 small lot Pinot producers will take over the square pouring some of their most exclusive offerings. Around the square artisan food truck vendors will be setup to offer up delectable bites. The tasting is one day only and tickets sell out quickly. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, visit www.pinotfestival.com.  And the first weekend of November brings the Wine and Food Affair a premier event from our friends at Wineroad.com with a focus on pairing wine with food. A great way to enjoy fall in the wine country.

 

Pumpkin patch or corn maze – Sonoma will delight you with plenty of Halloween activities during the month of October. The premier pumpkin patch experience can be found at McClelland’s Dairy Farm in Petaluma. If you get hungry while you’re picking out your organic heirloom pumpkin you can visit their food cart featuring grilled cheese sandwiches, milkshakes, popcorn and espresso drinks – all organic of course. Make a day of it and head out to the Sonoma Coast to visit the location where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds”.  For an adrenaline rush Halloween experience there are two great options – Blind Scream Haunted Mansions and the Hitchcock Film Noir Party. Blind Scream in Rohnert Park includes 3 haunted Mansions, “The Last Ride”, food trucks and a good old fashion Halloween scare – all for the bargain price of $20. A bit more tame but no less thrilling is the Hitchcock Film Noir Party at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. Celebrate the "Master of Suspense" with great wines, food, film clips, and mysteries to be solved – costumes are encouraged and proceeds from the event will benefit Sonoma Valley Media Arts Program.


So much to do and so little time... If you need to speak with a Concierge to plan an upcoming visit click here. To stay up to date with our latest jaunts and newest discoveries follow us on Facebook and Instagram. To receive our latest specials sign up for our Mailing List. Sonoma on your brain? Be sure to visit our 4th Night Free special - it'll turn you from thinking about a vacation to actually booking one. We hope to see you in Wine Country soon! 


5 MORE REASONS TO VISIT WINE COUNTRY (DO YOU NEED A REASON?)

  
  
  

SONOMA WINE COUNTRY HARVEST AND GRAPE LUNCHEON

  
  
  
Sonoma Harvest 2

Several months ago we were approached by the Sonoma County Winegrowers
requesting a lunchEON at Farmhouse Inn restaurant as part of their Sonoma County Grape Camp event. The event is a three day immersion in Sonoma County’s wine country harvest and includes dinners and lunches at several local restaurants. The Campers travel throughout Sonoma County experiencing the different elements of harvest – be it a very early morning pick in the vineyards or heading to the cellar to work on the sorting table, the Campers dive into what it means to work in the wine industry during these few months.  Our campers arrived ready for a break from the work and we were willing to oblige - no better way to begin a midday break than with a glass of bubbly...

 

 


FARMHOUSE INN IN THE NEWS

  
  
  
Sonoma Vineyards

Have you noticed we seem to be written up everywhere lately?

Recent accolades and this year's expansion at Farmhouse Inn has generated a lot of attention from the press.  

Be it print or online, we’re always grateful when the Farmhouse Inn is featured or mentioned in the press.  Our expansion project began in March and has included extensive new landscaping (including a revitalized pool area), nine new luxury rooms (they resemble our ever-popular Barn rooms), and a new farm-to-table spa building. All the work has generated considerable buzz from publications ranging from The Daily Meal and the Robb Report to Urban Daddy and our local Press Democrat.  With all the activity of the last few months, it felt like the time was right for a Farmhouse Inn press round up. We’re including a few highlights, but keep an eye on our press page as we have some very exciting features coming up.

 



One of our favorite articles within the last few months came from DuJour Magazine. The feature entitled “The Luxury Road Trip: Coastal California” took readers from Sonoma to Napa and down to Carmel. For each area they focused on several wineries, lodging and restaurant recommendations. Referring to Farmhouse Inn they said “We recommend the Luxury Barn Rooms, which has vaulted ceilings, a gorgeous white willow four-poster bed, heated bathroom marble floors and a fireplace that you can enjoy both in the room and outside from your private outdoor deck. But best of all is the bathroom, which can only be described as a playground for adults.” We couldn’t agree more!

 

 



FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGES; WINE COUNTRY EXPERTS

  
  
  
Armstrong Redwoods

With so many activities available for visitors to the wine country, the Farmhouse Inn Concierges are a valuable resource for sorting through them all. The entire Farmhouse Inn concierge team lives, works, and plays in Sonoma County. Several of us have also previously worked at local wineries and restaurants. In addition to our professional experiences, we are continually out and about sampling the latest and greatest Sonoma has to offer. Our knowledge of the area makes one of your best resources in the wine country; we love to share our favorites with our guests.  Here is one of our favorite Napa-Sonoma itineraries. 

Arrival:

Your first day in Sonoma County you are headed to the Farmhouse Inn where you’ll be welcomed with a glass of local wine.  (Nice start, right?)  Unwind by the pool or enjoy a spa treatment in the farm-to-table spa. After you’ve enjoyed a luxurious steam shower and soak in the tub, it's time for a Michelin starred meal at the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant (just steps from your room). We recommend you try the Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit and the wine pairings personally chosen for you by our Sommelier. After a full day of travel you may not be inclined to have to drive somewhere for dinner. 

 

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