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….
Locals living in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys associate spring time with the release of the newest vintages of white and rose wines. It is the time of year when we start making our summer plans and stocking our refrigerators for the coming months of picnicking near the Russian River and music on the square in Healdsburg. These delightful new releases always seem to perk us up out of our “winter” stupor. Whether your favorite is a Chardonnay or a Rose of Pinot Noir, we’ll go through the range of some of our favorites being released just in time for summer.
Let's start on the lighter end of the white wines, with the Sauvignon Blancs from the area that we can’t resist. For Sauvignon Blanc we recommend you head up to Dry Creek Valley where the warmer climate, limited daytime coastal influence and combination of gravelly and sandy loam soils make it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc. Our favorites come from Preston and Quivira. Preston’s Sauvignon Blanc has the classic citrus qualities of grapefruit and lime with touches of green apple. Perfect with summer vegetables and of course a selection of your favorite cheeses! Quivira’s Sauvignon Blanc comes from their well-known Fig Tree Vineyard on their estate. Quivira’s Sauvignon Blanc tends to exude more of the tropical notes like pineapple and passion fruit. Always high in acid, the Quivira is a perfect match with veal piccata or a tangy chevre. Be sure to inquire about other white wines available at both Preston and Quivira- the Madame Preston and Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier blend from Quivira are also at the top of our list.
If you like a little more body on your white wines than consider this next category of unique whites. We’ll start with RYME Cellar’s Vermentino. RYME is a small artisan brand from former Farmhouse Inn Sommelier Megan Glaab and her husband Ryan. Ryan and Megan have varying opinions on what Vermentino should taste like so they decided to a His and a Hers. Don’t tell Ryan, but the Concierge team all votes for the Hers. Classic Vermentino tends to have a stony, saline minerality and both versions at RYME exude this. Vermentino can sometimes take on an orange hue (depending on skin-contact during fermentation) and therefore contains tannins making it more robust on the spectrum of white wines. We recommend most seafood dishes and the occasional pesto with your next glass. Another unique white wine coming out of the Russian River Valley is Wind Gap’s Trousseau Gris. With intense mineral aromas (think wet rocks) and pineapple, the Trousseau Gris is zesty and lively on the palate. This wine is one of our favorites with fresh oysters on the half shell. Both the RYME Vermentinos and Wind Gap Trousseau have large followings and quickly sell out every year, so be sure to place your order soon.
On to the king of white wines, Chardonnay. Bold, full bodied, round, lush and unapologetically barrel-aged, California’s classic Chardonnays continue to be as popular today as they were 30 years ago. While some wineries are experimenting with non-barrel aging techniques, the predominant style still exudes aromas and flavors of butter, popcorn, vanilla, toast and baking spices. Of the Chardonnays that fall in this category we have 2 front runners: Gary Farrell’s Russian River Select and Red Car’s Sonoma Coast. Both wineries have tasting rooms in the Russian River Valley but purchase all their fruit from local growers- this allows them to select the best of the best each vintage. We’re huge fans of Evan Goldstein’s “Perfect Pairings” and his latest “Daring Pairings”. Both books provide pairing guidelines as well as fantastic recipes. We highly suggest referencing one of these books the time you open your favorite California Chardonnay.
To round up our spring list we’re finishing with what might be our favorite category, Rose. Pink, slightly effervescent and smelling of summertime, what’s not to like? Our go-to both in the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant and by the pool is County Line’s Rose of Pinot Noir. County Line is the second label of Radio Coteau owner/winemaker Eric Sussman. The County Line Rose is consistently one of our favorites every year- smelling of watermelon and strawberries, the Rose is extremely quaffable and affordable. No need to hesitate on opening this wine- the $20 price makes it a wine to be enjoyed whenever, wherever. We drink it with everything but if you’d like a little more sophisticated recommendation try it with a scallop sashimi or the perfect naked oyster. Last but not least is Farmhouse Winery Partner Inman Family’s Rose- beautiful, pale, delicate pink and crisp and refreshing, it is without a doubt a standout among the pink wines. With more structure, higher acids and supreme balance, this Rose makes us want to throw a summer dinner party in the vineyards right now. If you want to get fancy on your brunch guests try pairing this Rose with a scrambled egg and smoked salmon or a Quiche Lorraine.
We hope this Concierge Guide to Spring Releases was helpful and that you visit a few of the wineries mentioned on this list during your next vacation to wine country. If you won’t be visiting soon be sure to look for them in your local wine shop or on the wine list at your favorite restaurants. For more winery recommendations, itinerary suggestions and information on the area be sure to email your concierge soon. For more information on the latest happenings at Farmhouse be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
With summer here many people are making last minute vacation plans. Whether you’re living in California now or plan on visiting soon, a road trip up or down California’s coastline should be on your bucket list. We recommend you take a week to explore everything from Northern California’s wine country to Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn and all the little gems in between. We’ve put together our dream California coast road trip to share and hopefully inspire you to do your own. We’ll begin at the top and work our way down with some trip highlights.
Start in Sonoma County- many people don’t realize this but Sonoma has its own regional airport with direct flights to/from San Diego, LAX, Portland and Seattle.
Once you’ve arrived head over to the Farmhouse Inn to check in for at least a 2 night stay in the wine country. Enjoy a glass of wine on your private balcony, unwind from a day of travel and head down to the Farmhouse Restaurant for a fantastic dinner with wine pairings. Begin the following morning with the famous Farmhouse breakfast before you head out for a day of exploring.
Swing by Armstrong Redwoods for a quick hike, down to the Russian River for some kayaking and out to Jenner for a glass of champagne and oysters at River’s End. Return to Farmhouse for a little self-indulgence: a spa treatment with steam shower sounds about right. If you’re wiped out from a big day then we recommend an in-room picnic- stop by the Front Desk to check out their wares. The following morning its off to Highway 1 after another amazing breakfast.
Take Highway 116 from the Farmhouse through the Russian River area out to the Sonoma Coast and Highway 1. Make a quick stop at Goat Rock Beach to stretch your legs and work off some of that breakfast. As you wind down Highway 1 enjoy a crab sandwich at one of the highway shacks. Stop in Bodega Bay for some sight seeing and to enjoy the town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds.” As Highway 1 curves in you’ll come to Tomales Bay, home to Hog Island Oysters. It is on our list of must-see stops. We recommend making an appointments but you can drop in without one. As you finish the day’s driving you’ll arrive at the stunning and historic Cavallo Point for a 2 night stay. Be sure to dine in the Murray Circle Restaurant and to try out the spa at least once during your visit.
Hog Island Oysters,
Post Ranch Inn,