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Northern Sonoma County Winery Picnics
The dog days of summer are a glorious time of year to enjoy gorgeous weather and the splendid surroundings of Northern Sonoma County. Between wine tastings, the mood will often strike to eat and remain outdoors, so perhaps a picnic will be in order. Many wineries offer interesting, convenient, picturesque and free picnic facilities! Since harvest is early this year, you might even enjoy the sight of fruit being picked while you dine. Here are some suggestions for picnic settings in the Healdsburg, Geyserville, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley areas.
Of course, there is a bit of important etiquette to understand and respect. By law, you may only consume wines from the winery you are visiting while you are on their property. Please leave the area as clean as you found it…some of these wineries are also the homes of the winemakers, so act like a good neighbor.
Many wineries provide wine by the glass, an excellent option if you are taking a break in the middle of a day of tasting. Quite a few offer Sauvignon Blanc, a suitable varietal wine to match your deli collection or other picnic materials. Some have cheese, crackers, water and juice to complement your idyll if you did not stop at the deli on the way. If you are planning ahead, you might try the deli at Anestad’s Market just north of the Plaza in Healdsburg on Center Street, to fill your basket with picnicking perfection.
At the gateway to the Healdsburg area, Rodney Strong Vineyards is a convenient stop. There are several tables at the side of a picturesque vineyard, with lots of green lawn for bigger groups with blankets, even rambunctious kids. Try the Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc for your picnic. Just north past Healdsburg, off Highway 101, Simi Winery has picnic areas in a shady ring of redwoods that were planted 70 years ago to celebrate the end of Prohibition. Three cork trees can be viewed here; have you seen and touched living cork? A larger area is also available by reservation for parties of up to 75 people.
The town of Geyserville is just a few minutes further north, and Trentadue Winery just before town offers several excellent picnic areas, accommodating up to 20 or 30 people. A special recommendation while here is their flight of Port Wines, a great choice for your picnic dessert. If the tables are busy at Trentadue, you might check out the pleasant upper and lower patios at Geyser Peak Winery just to the north. Choose from offerings of salami, pâté and cheese to complement the wines, many of which are unique, small production efforts, available only at the winery.
To the west of Geyserville is the awesomely picturesque Dry Creek Valley. Quivira Winery offers a picnicker’s nirvana, with intimate yet stunning views, and a second set of tables under huge redwoods where it is 20 degrees cooler if the valley heats up. They also offer an excellent selection of wines by the glass; their Mourvedre Rosé or Grenache wines are great picnic choices. Not far away, friendly newbie Passalacqua Winery occupies a striking site, with multiple picnic and lawn areas offering a perfect mix of sun and shade. Wine is again offered by the glass here, and this is another winery where larger groups can be accommodated by reservation. These two wineries are close to each other, and both so beautiful and unique, that you might start at one and have dessert at the second. The Dry Creek General Store is within walking distance to Passalacqua if you need provisions.
Another nearby beauty is winery Forchini Vineyards & Winery. Though technically open by appointment only, you are invited to head on up and picnic. Enjoy the splendid view from the five tables and modern tasting room on this rustic property…off the beaten tasting path, it usually is not crowded. Talking with Winemaker Jim Forchini, when he is around, is also a fun treat.
Over to the east of Geyserville is the glorious Alexander Valley, where pleasant tables at White Oak and Hanna Wineries await you. The friendly staff at White Oak will guide you through an excellent, award-winning selection of white and red wines. This winery offers the epitome of a benchland, or valley floor vineyard-side setting, with several shaded tables. By contrast, Hanna’s picnic benches offer stunning views across the valley from their hillside property. Sauvignon Blanc is one glass you could choose here, but if they are pouring it, check out their terrific Russian River Estate Chardonnay, only offered at the winery.
Views, vineyards, tasty treats and vino, what a great way to enjoy a perfect day in the wine country!
Article contributed by Taylor Poff
NapaValley Reservations Unlimited
Are you looking for comparative information and competitive pricing as you search accommodation reservations in Napa Valley or the surrounding Wine Country area? Do you like the flexibility of the big travel websites, but are tired of the limited, prefabricated information they offer? Napa Valley Reservations Unlimited has been helping inquisitive, practical people like you since 1985, and their new easy-to-use website offers a wealth of useful information, availability, pricing…and deals too!
The handy online reservation program at Napa Valley Reservations Unlimited allows you to narrow down your search and focus on amenities that are important to you! You will save time and money while getting exactly what you want. Detailed listings of room features like refrigerator, Internet access and views, recreation opportunities like pool or Jacuzzi, and information on business, children’s and pet services are all easily searchable in any combination, along with the location and class of accommodation as well.
Even more details are shown as you look at individual properties…there is a lot more here than on the average travel site. Instantaneous availability and pricing is offered on an easy-to-read graphic calendar for your date selections as you shop. Look for Xtra Value rates on select dates! (Subject to availability, and restrictions do apply.)
While this service primarily deals with accommodations, they also represent The Napa Valley Wine Train, Hot Air Balloons, Transportation Services and many Spa Facilities. Their great service is complemented by a friendly, toll-free Concierge to assist accommodation customers with restaurant reservations and give personalized recommendations at no charge.
Whether on the net or the phone, Napa Valley Reservations Unlimited helps you match your desires to what you get from your Wine Country visit, a wonderful added benefit as the knowledge of their experienced team is leveraged to help you find just what you want! There is no charge for these services, providing unbiased information with great rates. Search it, see it, and reserve it!Located on the web at www.napavalleyreservations.com, or call 800-251-NAPA, Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm PST!
The Yountville Epicurean Affair Featuring Chefs and Winemakers of the Town
Napa Valley's Blackbird Inn
With Fall right around the corner, why not indulge in one last summer getaway? May we suggest the Blackbird Inn, (one of the Four Sisters Inns) of Napa Valley, CA. The Inn’s handsome stone and wooden architecture, patterned after the 20th century Craftsman structural design, is just one of the features that make it distinct from neighboring inns. As you approach the front door, you are greeted with a spacious front porch, which no doubt you will spend at least one afternoon sipping fresh lemonade in the refreshing cool air. The beautiful lead stained glass door makes for a grand entrance. Blackbird Inn was recently renovated in the last two years, and many of the ornate wood furnishings were hand crafted by the owner himself. The gracious manner of the host and general staff naturally create a warm and welcoming aura.
Each of the eight guest rooms include comforts such as king or queen size beds, private bath, gas fireplace and a private deck or balcony. To the delight of many guests, a plush teddy bear greets you as you enter the room. A tradition dating back 25 years, teddy bears are placed in all of the guest rooms and are available for adoption. Remember your special trip for years to come while simultaneously providing a home for your little bear.
Rise in the morning to their signature breakfasts that have made many guests comment, “This is delicious! Can I have the recipe?” You’ll be happy to hear that they now offers a cookbook featuring all of the palate tempting dishes. Complimentary wine, hors d’oeuvres and sweet home-baked cookies are served in the afternoon. In partnership with another Four Sisters Inn, all guests of Blackbird Inn are welcome to use Maison Fleurie’s pool and spa facilities. To add even more flair to your summer getaway, the year-round Celebration Package can be added to any lodging reservation.
Blackbird Inn is conveniently situated in the heart of downtown Napa that bustles with activity at every corner. Discover boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and quaint cafes for lunch and world class dining, all within walking distance of the inn. Then, take a ride through the scenic countryside and visit local wineries, day spas and other nearby popular attractions. The summer days are ticking by so don’t waste any more time, visit Blackbird Inn at www.blackbirdinnnapa.com or call 888.567.9811 to make your reservations today!Blackbird Inn, 1755 First Street, Napa, CA 94559
Editor Pick — Eleanor of Aquitaine
The Yorkville Cellars 2001 Eleanor of Aquitaine is a unique, blended white wine made from certified organic Mendocino Estate Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Richness from 65% Semillon is coupled with the classic citrus and herbal notes of 35% Sauvignon Blanc and barrel fermented, resulting in an unusually rich and complex white wine. Perfect with Japanese cuisine—matching Sushi and Tempura, with any mild seafood, or simply with cheese and olives. To try or buy this highly awarded wine, visit www.yorkville-cellars.com.
Wine Country Recipe
Wild Forest Pigeon
Inspired, finessed presentations that highlight fresh, locally grown savory delights, along with an atmosphere of casual elegance, set the celebrated Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg far apart from the rest. Upon a recent visit, we found Chef-Owner Charlie Palmer busy at work. Hearing of the Syrah food and wine-pairing theme for the September/October issue of our WineCountry.com publication, Charlie and Executive Chef Mateo Granados kindly shared the following recipe:
4 Whole Pigeon or Squab, fully deboned
Preheat oven to 400º. In a sauté pan heat oil and sear seasoned birds until golden brown. Once browned transfer to oven and roast for 3-5 minutes, or until cooked to desired temperature.
4 Organic Peaches
Slice Peaches in half, remove the pit and grill over hot coals.
Black Berry Sauce
2 Baskets of Wild Blackberries
In a sauté pan over high heat combine all ingredients and simmer until blackberries fall apart. Pass through a chinois.
Plate pigeon with peach halves and spoon sauce over top.
Editor Pick — Sauvignon Republic
Here is a cool suggestion for the hot days of late summer. A fun concept and
a great tasting Sauvignon Blanc! Buy yourself a bottle and let us know if
Wine Country Featured Event
Delight in Lake Tahoe’s brilliant autumn colors and experience a bountiful harvest of fall’s most beautiful flavors at this year’s Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival, October 1-3 at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Wine and dine with friends throughout this weekend extravaganza that will present premiere wine from around the world, signature gourmet food and much more.Wine Education programs, culinary demonstrations and dinners featuring renown chefs such as Lars Kronmark (Culinary Institute of America), Joseph Keller (Bouchon) and Jacques Cornelis (Resort at Squaw Creek). Stroll the streets of Truckee with a Wine Walk and Shop Tour discovering unique shops, galleries and restaurants. Or get your feet wet at the Village Grape Stomp. Be sure to attend Sunday’s Grand Tasting featuring over 35 of Lake Tahoe’s finest restaurants and the Culinary Competition. For tickets and lodging packages, please call 888-229-2193 or visit http://www.mytahoevacation.com/wwc
Editor Pick — Pacifica Hotels
Be sure to take a look at this website if you are considering a visit to the San Luis Obispo area. Try the Fireside Inn in Cambria...the staff is superior and the view of the ocean one of the very best! www.pacificahotels.com
If you want to discover the beauty
of Napa Valley on your own, then the Napa Valley Expedition Guide is for you. This unique combination of audio tour, guidebook and multimedia CD-Rom is a “self-guided driving tour of the history, wineries, and wines that have shaped the Napa Valley” that no visitor should be without.
When you get tired of doing all the driving, let someone else create scenic and culinary adventures for you. Enjoy a relaxing ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a scenic journey through the heart of Napa Valley’s picturesque vineyards and taste delicious gourmet entrees.
No Napa Valley trip is complete without visiting one of their world-renowned restaurants. This package does not disappoint as it sends you to the Greystone Restaurant for fine dining. The Greystone Restaurant boasts spectacular views from its terrace and then sample cuisine prepared using local, seasonal ingredients from the agricultural bounty of California. As noted by the restaurant itself “what better place to experience the mingling of food, wine, and friends than the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, in the very heart of California’s wine country”. We are sure you will agree as well.
Click here to enter this drawing! (Please note: If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, you are automatically entered in this drawing.)The Winner of this Drawing will be announced on The Winner's Page after September 19, 2004.
(*some restrictions apply)
***No purchase necessary. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Excludes alcohol & gratuity – not redeemable for cash . Calistoga Oasis Spa certificate expires 11/19/04. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected July 19, 2004 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of Freerun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law.