Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunny Sonoma.....

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a side trip to the wine valleys. Years ago we spent a week or so travelling through both the Sonoma and Napa valleys, staying at lovely inns, buying lunches from famous delis and picnicking in vineyards, with a bottle of wine. Decadence, thy name maybe, California.

This time we had just a day, so we had to be organized -
1. We rented a car - very easy and quite cheap!!
2. We got out of San Francisco - not so easy!
3. We got lost - very easy - do it all the time!
4. We back tracked to the road my husband said we should have taken and I said, "Don't be silly. Sonoma will be signed posted." - not!
5. We found Sonoma - finally.

Sonoma is a beautiful place. It has the last mission in California, San Francisco Solano and it has a wonderful square at its centre, surrounded by hundreds of shops, delis, and cafes. We bought sandwiches at the same deli we had visited over thirty years ago and we got directions to the first winery, we had ever been to, in California, Buena Vista.

The winery, itself had made some changes, but not enough to make it unrecognizable and the picnic area was still there. We bought a bottle of Rose´, after tasting a few and ate our delicious sandwiches, on a sun-dappled patio - perfection. With nothing left to eat or drink, we sussed out another winery, a difficult task, as there are over 100 in the area, and arrived at the Berziger Family Winery, just as a tour was starting.

I baulked a little at the $25.00 per person cost for the tour, but since it was almost a private tour - there was just another couple, from New Zealand, on it, I gave in and was so glad I did. Berziger is a very unique winery in many ways. First, unlike many vineyards that are laid out in flat fields, the Berziger estate is set on several significant hills, which makes it incredibly picturesque. Secondly, the vineyard uses not just organic farming methods, but an earlier form of agriculture known as, bio-dynamic farming.  Companion planting is one principle we saw in use. There were rows of olive trees between the vines, and borders of brilliant flowers, to attract the bees, throughout the farm.

All the weeding is done by sheep, which are kept on the premises, along with a herd of Scottish cattle, for fertilizer. Our tractor drawn carriage, stopped occasionally at fields, here and there, for us to sample wine, from those particular grapes and we ended our trip by inspecting a cave that had been hollowed out of a small mountain to house and age the wine, without refrigeration. Care had been taken in every step of the wine making process to ensure that resources were used frugally, nothing was contaminated with chemicals, and the wine, of course, was perfect!

After the tour, we spent some time in the tasting room, sipping wine and discussing, John Steinbeck, who wrote extensively about the Salinas valley to the south.

A literary end to a literally perfect day.

Have a good one!!

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