A rooster crowed as I stepped out the door into the cool morning. Everything around me was green, including the mountain beyond the trees that framed the property. A large thermos of coffee was waiting in the lobby of the charming Sonoma B&B and I wanted a cup. Two, even.
Locals who have been in the wine country a long time decry the damage done by “progress” and it’s true. As more and more wineries opened and expanded their holdings, the bucolic nature of Sonoma has changed. That’s how many locals see it, anyway. We live about 90 miles south and we still see the beautiful rolling hills covered with vineyards as romantic. And there’s nothing in generic Silicon Valley to compare with what seems like vast green space and natural beauty in Sonoma.
I’d live there in a heartbeat.
But since we don’t, we try to spend time in Sonoma wine country a few times a year, visiting our favorite wineries, restaurants and more.
Northern Californians will tell you that Napa has become a caricature of itself, and it’s true: bigger, more ornate, more snooty, even. Tastings can cost $20 or more per person. We don’t enjoy it. And while Sonoma is also more developed than ever, it has retained some of its down-to-earth vibe and most of its charm, at least for us. So when we want a wine country experience, it’s Sonoma, where we’ve developed a list of favorite wineries and things to do.
Our plan is usually simple: we do one major thing each day and then simply kick back and enjoy the natural surroundings. Maybe a nice dinner later or maybe a to-go meal from a gourmet deli.
On this day our big event was a comparative tasting at one of our favorite wineries, DeLoach. It’s a beautiful Sonoma winery on a property that has not only a two-bedroom guest hose but a guest house for livestock. And that always cracks me up. Want to see? Here’s a short video of the livestock, HERE.
DeLoach is owned now by France’s Boisset and we booked a tasting of the French wines with their American counterparts. I was curious and also wanted to learn a little about the differences.
The big difference for me was that French wine has lower alcohol content. To my American palate, that meant some of the French wines tasted diluted. Of course, wine is served like water in France, so the lower alcohol content is probably the only way they get through their days.
I’ve done scores of wine tastings over the years and the truth is, I drink very little wine when I’m not on vacation. Still, I love everything about being in the Sonoma wine country on a slow, sunny weekday. The gentle pace, the bright sky, green everywhere, the beautiful setting for a relaxing taste of a few good wines.
Preparing to write this I went through my photos from our March trip and got excited all over again.
Have you been to Sonoma and how was your experience?