A Vacation in the Wine Country


A Vacation in the Wine Country

In March 2005, we went back to the wine country, in northern California. Since it rained for the first few days of the trip, we were able to take some fantastic photos. The rain also kept down the number of tourists. We would recommend going in either March, or November. Both are excellent; both give very different views of the hills and vines.

Note that to us the wine country is not the Napa Valley. This is because there are so many wineries outside of Napa: in Sonoma, the Russian River Valley and up north in the Anderson Valley; that going into Napa is just a hassle we don't want when we go on vacation.

First, you need a place to stay. We recommend the Grape Leaf Inn in Healdsburg. There are several reasons for this, the first is because the owners are excellent hosts, they understand what you are there for (to find new and wonderful wine), and know some of the finest restaurants in the area. Its location is central to the Alexander, Russian River, Dry Creek, Healdsburg, and Anderson Valley wineries. You can get to Napa if you want, but why? Everybody says Healdsburg is about 45 minutes to an hour north of San Francisco; don't believe them. Driving there from the Oakland Airport is about 2 hours, take the extra time to make sure you are not frustrated in the drive, or arrive too late. At the Inn, at about 5:30 every evening is a private tasting with the inn keeper and some of the best of the local wines. Sometimes a local wine maker stops by to do a little education and pitch for their winery. We discovered Alderbrook this way.

One of our favorite wineries is Husch Vineyards. We went on a trip to see them. While they are not easy to get to, they are worth the drive north on the 128.

Keeping to the local area you can find over 100 wineries. On this trip we found a new boutique winery called David Caffaro. They make great wines, and have a lot of fun doing it. A stop there was recommended by another guest at the Inn (another great reason to stay there) and we found it a lot of fun. Tell your friends when you will be there tasting and they can see you on his web page. Live photos posted of the tasting bar are updated twice a minute.

Local dining in Healdsburg and the surrounding area leads to some great little restaurants. Zin is one David happens to like, because it has a nice Zinfandel wine list, and also because it has fabulous food. Another was mirepoix, With an excellent dinner selection, and a wonderful small dining room this was an excellent way to eat and relax at the same time. Zin is walking distance from the Inn, while mirepoix is a short drive down the freeway.