Recently, I went out to Sonoma County for a wine tasting trip. Four of us went and made a roadtrip out of it, coming up from Orange County to the beautiful wine country about an hour away from San Francisco. Let me spoil it all by telling you that this was probably my favorite wine tasting trip. I've been to Temecula, Napa, Paso Robles and smaller places in between, like Santa Barbara and other central California locations. Overall, Sonoma has been the best.
I wish the trip could have been longer but some of us had to work on Monday, so we had to make it a 3 day event. We left on Friday morning, later than we had anticipated; we were on the road by 6:30. My intention was to head out no later than 4:30 am, but we just couldn't do it. All of us had to do stuff at the last minute and we were exhausted from packing and getting ready. The extra hour or so of sleep made a big difference and we still managed to beat LA traffic.
On our way up, we drove the 405 fwy which then merges to the 5 FWY. We stopped just for gas and quick restroom breaks along the way, and eventually made it out to our first real stop. Dim Sum lunch in San Francisco. We stopped at the Great Eastern Restaurant on Nob Hill, and had one of the best Dim Sum lunches I've had in a long time. We arrived around 1:15, and after eating and relaxing for a bit we were on the road by 2:45-3:00.
We debated whether we should go to our hotel first in Santa Rosa, or if we should make a stop at Eric Ross' winery. We consulted our maps and it made more sense to stop at the winery first then head to our hotel. We wouldn't make it on time otherwise. We pushed through the last 1.5 or so hour and made it to the winery around 4:55pm, most wineries out there, including Eric's close at 5. I had previously twitted with Eric himself and he said if he wasn't there, then Diane and, or Dennis would be there for us and take care of our visit. Both Dennis and Diane were there and proved to be excellent hosts. I'll tell you more about the winery and that great experience in a subsequent post. Diane and Dennis stuck around with us for well over an hour, past closing time. We got a few bottles, said our farewells and went on our way to the hotel.
We decided to make one more stop before making it out to Santa Rosa; we stopped at Mayo Winery. That wasn't nearly as exciting as Eric's and soon after tasting a couple of wines we were on our way. From Mayo to our hotel it took us about 40 minutes, give or take. The best part of the drive was the drive itself. Lush greenery surrounds the mostly 2 lane roads; covered by ancient trees and sidelined by small houses with tons of vineyards and the occasional wine tasting sign off the side of the road. I loved the drive and forgot about being tired at all. Following a couple of wrong turns, we made it out to the Hilton in Santa Rosa.
Saturday was the main day for wine tasting and we started as early as we could, we visited several wineries; Ferrari-Carano, Bella, Armida, La Crema, Zichichi Vineyard, and others. We enjoyed great weather and lots of great photos. Early afternoon, after an uneventful visit to La Crema, we decided to get lunch somewhere. We searched, yelped, and even asked the locals for a good lunch spot. We were referred to a few places that were either too crowded, or too commercialized. We ended up going to a place called Giorgio's and we had the best pizza I've had. ever. I even got to chat with Mike, pizza maker extraordinaire, he's been in the business since the 60s! They have that location in Healdsburg and I think he said two other locations in San Francisco. Giorgio's also deserves its own post and I think all four of us owe it a good Yelp review.
We left on Sunday after having breakfast at the hotel. We went back to San Francisco hoping to try a new place for lunch, but after searching high and low for our destination, we decided to go to the Great Eastern Restaurant again. We were then on our way back home. Almost... I should say that instead of making it straight home, we decided to make one more stop along the way. We took a detour to Paso Robles and stopped at Zenaida Cellars for one more wine tasting. We love that place. Besides Zenaida, there are couple of places that we visited during our trip that deserve their own post, and I will tell you about those in the next couple of days. In the meantime, you can check out the pictures.