The tragic scenes of the fires in California reminded me that I hadn’t posted this blog about our trip to this beautiful state. There were several large fires while we were there and we were struck by the impact of these fires on our western states. Our prayers go out to the people who are coping with the fires
We left the cool beauty of California’s Redwood forests and headed inland to wine country. Sonoma and Napa Valleys were must-do’s on our cross country list of places to visit. Our expectations were exceeded at every turn.
Friends and family were concerned about our safety on this leg of our trip with the wildfires raging in California. While we were never in any danger from the fires, the smoke was ever-present in the atmosphere. We couldn’t smell it, but there was a constant haziness to the sky. But even the smoke could not dim the beauty of wine country.
While there were plenty of big, well-known wineries nearby, we decided to visit some of the smaller, lesser-known vineyards and tasting rooms. In the smaller vineyards, we were typically the only ones in the tasting room, and we’d have the undivided attention of the knowledgeable and friendly pourer. Also, we like the experience of tasting wines that we can’t get at home.
Our first stop was Seracina Vineyard in Hopland. We parked Arvie in the shade for Bella’s comfort. Bella let out a few barks, as we locked the door, indignant at being left behind. We wandered through the olive grove before heading into the tasting room.
We learned that Seracina is owned by John Fetzer, Many years ago, the Fetzer family sold the winery that their father had started, along with the rights to use the family name. John Fetzer purchased Seracina and named it after a vineyard in Tuscany where he and his wife honeymooned. We could tell that the place was inspired by Tuscany Tasting wine at Seracina that afternoon transported us back to Italy. We left Seracina with several very fine bottles of wine.
There’s nothing like a wine tasting to give the world a rosy glow. So when our chosen campground on the Russian River was full, we happily checked into a nearby KOA for a night. KOA’s are not our favorite campgrounds. They tend to be expensive, crowded and appeal more to young families. But when the sun is starting to set and we need a place to plug in our air conditioning for the night, a KOA will do just fine!
We packed up in the morning and headed out for another wine tasting. This time we went to Trattore Farms. Arvie made some scary noises as we headed up a steep, curvy hill to the auxiliary parking lot. There we could run the noisy generator and power the RV air-conditioning to keep Bella cool while we sampled some wines.
We were the only guests for our tasting, and enjoyed our conversation with the young man pouring the wine. The wines were delicious and we enthusiastically bought several (more) bottles of wine and joined their wine club. After the tasting, we sat on the lovely patio and shared a plate of charcuterie along with our favorite Trattore Farms red wine.
Once again we had the rosy glow only a healthy dose of red wine can offer. This time when we went to the Russian River campground, they had a spot available. We signed up for 2 nights and backed into a shady spot. While this campsite was an improvement over the KOA, we were disappointed to see that there was a lot of litter around the campsites. We were happy that we would only be here for two nights. The next day we just hung out at the campground and enjoyed splashing around with Bella in the Russian River.
When it was time to move on, we headed to the charming small town of Geyserville. We wandered through an antique store, picking up a new-old whisk and a much-needed martini shaker. Next it was time for lunch at Catelli’s, an third generation Italian restaurant opened by Italian immigrants in 1936. When we saw fried calamari being delivered to a neighboring table, we knew we had to get it. It was the best I’ve ever had. The rest of the meal was delicious and of course, accompanied by some excellent local wine.
Nick had found yet another campground, just outside of Healdsburg. The third time was the charm. While the Alexander Valley RV park was not fancy, it was one of the nicest places we stayed. Owned by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, the park was super clean and well-cared for. We found a shady spot in the back without any neighbors nearby and enjoyed having some extra space in this quiet campground.
Healdsburg was beautiful, fiiled with cute boutiques and lovely restaurants. Our first trip to town was on our bikes. The morning was nice and cool when we left the campground. We enjoyed breakfast at the Chalkboard, a local favorite, and strolled around town. By the time we got on our bikes to go home, it was hot out! We would splurge on Uber for the rest of our stay in Healdsburg.
We celebrated my birthday in a big way in Healdsburg! I wanted a new outfit to wear to an upcoming family event and the cute boutiques in town seemed like the perfect place to find one. I tend to be a bargain shopper, but I managed to pick out a very expensive pair of dressy black capris and a shirt to go with them. Nick brought me a beautiful blouse and a robe, too. I tend to be a bargain rack shopper, so paying full price at these expensive boutiques felt CRAZY, but fun. We finished up my birthday party with dinner at Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar.
We woke up the next morning hungover from our spending spree. Wine country was fun, but it had cost us a small fortune.
We spent our last days at the campground living a simpler life. We bicycled down the road to the nearby Jimtown store for cappuccino. Nick cooked up some fantastic meals at home, inspired by the food we had eaten and the bounty of the local grocery store. We had plenty of wonderful wine to drink. I think I enjoyed those last few quiet days most of all.
Lynne,Nick and Bella
P.S. What is your favorite California wine?