Wine_Country_Blog

Wine Country Blog: Innsights to the Wine Country

VALENTINE'S DAY + WINE COUNTRY + FARMHOUSE INN = ROMANCE

By Meghan Smith on January 27, 2016

Valentine's Day is upon us: That oh so magical time of year synonymous with red roses, chocolates in a box, and teddy bears holding hearts.  Forgot to make a plan? You are not alone and thankfully the romance experts at Farmhouse Inn are here to help. We have declared February as the Month of Romance (why limit to a single day?) and the Sonoma wine country is perfect for a romantic getaway.  Whether surprising your loved one with a last minute romantic interlude or adding on some delightful extras to an already-planned trip, we are here to make sure that your Valentine’s Day amounts to more than bad candy or even worse;  bad champagne. We have a 3 step plan that will make you look like a hero this Valentine’s Day Weekend. 


Step One: Book a room and dinner! These reservations are highly prized and extremely hard to get at the last minute, particularly at stops that already have a reputation for romance (we swear we’re not tooting our own horn….). Our restaurant fills up fast but lucky for you we hold back some tables for hotel guests – I know, we think of everything. Can’t make it the actual holiday weekend but still looking to do a getaway? No problem. Now through the end of March we’re offering our Winter Getaway / 3rd Night Free special. This gives you plenty of time to plan – because you didn’t forget…. you just wanted to be sure it was perfect…. and special….  We promise to back you up at check in.

 

Step Two: Do the unexpected! Surprise and delight your loved one with add-ons they know nothing about. Be it a Sommelier-led wine tour, a romantic tub turndown or a couple’s massage, these added touches go a long way. What is a Sommelier-led wine tour you ask? Imagine having a private driver pick you up at Farmhouse Inn where you’re met in the car by one of wine country’s hottest sommeliers to guide you through a day of private tastings at the most exclusive wineries. And you’ll enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch along the way, of course.

If you’re not one for visiting tasting rooms and still want to spark the romance, no problem – consider our candlelight tub turndown. While you’re at dinner we’ll set the mood – rose petals, artisan chocolate truffles, candlelight, bubbles in the tub and a bottle of champagne on ice. And to cap off a romantic weekend don’t forget a visit to the spa. Our cozy couple’s room is the perfect place to unwind and relax before returning to the real world.

 

Step Three: Go big or go home! Perhaps 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!'. (Or...not quite ready yet?  How about a romantic proposal?) 

If you’re more of an “I don’t want to think about it” type of person than we have one final suggestion. The whole month of February we’re offering half off of our romance package. The romance package includes champagne, artisan truffles, romantic floral arrangement, spa and a little souvenir of your stay. Book your three nights on the Winter Getaway special and add this on and you’re all set. You’ll go from being in the dog house to rock star status in one weekend. Amazing what a little 3 day weekend away can do for you.

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Topics: wine country, Romantic, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, special, romance, Romantic getaway, Valentines Day, spa

A RAINY DAY IN SONOMA WINE COUNTRY

By Meghan Smith on December 13, 2014

This week we've decided to delve into what feels like an appropriate topic of conversation considering the storms we’ve had this week. What do you do in Sonoma wine country when it happens to rain?  You’ve traveled from the East coast to escape the snowy weather and land in San Francisco only to find that you should have packed your rain coat, boots and umbrella. Rain happens- even in sunny California. The question is, how do you enjoy a wine country vacation when you can’t go far and the places you wanted to visit are impacted by weather? The answer varies depending on your interests; but we think a rainy day has the potential to be more enjoyable than you might think….

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Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Russian River, Pinot Noir, Romantic, Farmhouse Inn, Healdsburg, restaurant, vacation, California, spa

FARMHOUSE INN WITH HOLIDAY FOOD AND WINE FAVORITES

By Meghan Smith on October 25, 2014


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.

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Topics: wine country, Sonoma County, Holidays, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, dining

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

By Meghan Smith on October 04, 2014

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Topics: wine country, Sonoma County, holiday, gifts, shopping, art trails, Farmhouse Inn, Healdsburg, restaurant, romance, spa, Harvest, season

SONOMA WINE COUNTRY HARVEST AND GRAPE LUNCHEON

By Meghan Smith on September 27, 2014

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...

 

 

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Topics: wine country, Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Farmhouse Inn, events, restaurant, Grape Camp, Russian River Valley, Harvest

FARMHOUSE INN IN THE NEWS

By Meghan Smith on September 20, 2014

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!

 

 

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Topics: wine country, Travel and Leisure, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, World's Best Hotels, spa, Robb Report

FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGES; WINE COUNTRY EXPERTS

By Meghan Smith on September 13, 2014

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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Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Russian River, concierge, Michelin Star, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, Napa, activities, wine tasting

SONOMA SUMMER CONTINUES: SEPTEMBER IN WINE COUNTRY

By Meghan Smith on September 06, 2014

As the new school year starts and summer comes to an end, the busy season in Sonoma wine country is just beginning.  Harvest kicked off early this year; however we’ll continue to see grapes come in for at least another month. Many people know this is the best time to visit; perfect weather and the energy of harvest is a huge attraction. As the harvest continues and we start to see the leaves change colors, wine country celebrates with  some of the best events, concerts, and festivals of the entire year. With everything from winemaker dinners to Kendall Jackson’s Heirloom Tomato Festival and the Russian River Jazz and Blues concerts – September is a great time to visit wine country. Leave the kids at home with the grandparents and come to Sonoma this fall….

 

Every year wineries host winemaker dinners for their top club members and fans. These dinners are a celebration of the newest wine releases and a way for visitors to enjoy the excitement of harvest. This September there is no shortage of dinners to choose from if you’ll be in the area. If you’re looking for a farm-to-table experience the Figs and Pigs Festival at Quivira Vineyards in Healdsburg is a great option. In search of something a little more white-linen? Rodney Strong is celebrating 25 years of the Klein Family ownership with a series of 4 simultaneous dinners in Healdsburg, Texas, New York and Florida. Each dinner will feature 5 different chefs from across the country with wines from Rodney Strong. We love the ambition of the series and can’t wait to see photos from all 4 dinners. Click here for more information.  For a full list of upcoming winemaker dinners go to www.wineroad.com and click on their events calendar. Please note that these dinners require advance reservations; many sell out quickly.

 

Kendall Jackson’s Wine Center hosts the Heirloom Tomato Festival each fall. The event is a combination of garden tours, small bites focusing on the tomato as the centerpiece, chef competitions, and of course, plenty of wine tasting. Guests who attend can stroll through Kendall Jackson’s recently expanded culinary gardens enjoying tomato-inspired bites from nearly 50 wine country and Bay Area chefs, all of whom will be vying for the coveted Critic's Choice award. In addition to the food and wine, the event will feature garden seminars and live music. The event is from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, September 27th. Event tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

 

 

 

The Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival will return to Johnson's Beach in Guerneville on the 20th and 21st of this month. The Russian River community has been playing host to musicians for more than 35 years, and the Jazz and Blues Festival is one of the largest gatherings of musicians in Sonoma County. This year’s lineup features 12 acts over 2 days. It wouldn’t be a wine country event without wine;  the Jazz and Blues Festival offers attendees the opportunity to do some wine tasting in the Wine Garden. This year’s wineries include Davis Bynum, J, Rodney Strong and many others. Several food vendors will also be on hand throughout the festivities. Seating at the festival is a little unconventional – you can sit in a chair, lounge on a beach blanket or float on the water. Tickets start at $50 for single day General Admission and go up to $180 for Gold Weekend Passes. Click here for additional information on the lineup, activities and ticket purchasing.

 

Whatever the reason for your visit to wine country, we hope you stop by the Farmhouse Inn. The Restaurant is open (by reservation) Thursday through Monday from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. Tables in September are booking up, so if you haven’t made your reservation yet do so soon. If you’re looking for a place to stay while you attend a wine country event our new room special is valid the entire month of September through December – click here for more details. For more information on local area activities and the latest news from the Farmhouse Inn follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Russian River, Farmhouse Inn, events, restaurant, Harvest

THREE DAYS IN WINE COUNTRY: A SONOMA PLANNING GUIDE

By Meghan Smith on August 16, 2014

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.

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Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Sonoma County, Farmhouse Inn, Healdsburg, events, restaurant, wine road, Napa, California, wine tasting

FARMHOUSE INN EXPLORES INFLUENCES ON OUR WINE AND FOOD CULTURE

By Meghan Smith on August 02, 2014

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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Topics: Sonoma, Pinot Noir, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, dining, California, Russian River Valley, travel

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