Feb 5, 2014

Sonoma Winter WINEland and Brewery Visits

We planned a trip down Northern Sonoma County's Wine Road on Sunday for the 22nd Annual Winter WINEland.

By the way, if you missed the previous posts on my recent trip to Northern California, check them out first:
- The Hills of San Francisco
- Sunshine, food and wine in Napa and Sonoma

Winter WINEland is an event, where you have the chance to visit any of the over 100 participating wineries, where you receive tastings, discounts and sometimes food pairings, all for one ticket price. We purchased Sunday only tickets, which were about $35 including service fee. Such a good deal!

Northern Sonoma County in itself is huge, so we pretty much stuck to the area around Healdsburg to make the most of our time.

We started out at 11 am at Wilson Winery, where we picked up our wristbands and tasting glasses. We sampled three different red wines by Wilson as well as enjoyed some barbecue brisket.

As you can tell, the weather was absolutely amazing. I hear that it can sometimes be dreary and rainy in January, but California is currently facing a severe drought and there hasn't been any rain to speak of. 

Barbecue brisket at Wilson Winery

Our next stop was lunch at Bear Republic Brewing Co.

The restaurant served pub-style offerings, which were tasty but not amazing, and I felt I was led astray on the beer recommendations. I typically like lighter beers, and the waitress suggested the beer on the right for me. Yeah, that's not a light beer! I believe it was the Heritage. 

Beers from Bear Republic

Our second Wine Road stop was the beautiful Truett Hurst Winery. The grounds were so gorgeous that we wound up spending quite a bit of time just chatting, sitting in the sunshine and exploring. Along with the vineyards, there are gardens and livestock, including chicken and sheep (which I did not see any of).  

The gardens of Truett Hurst

The property butts up against Dry Creek, where there are salmon and trout, which I also did not see any of. 

Not only was the setting magnificent but I also had some fantastic wine there. My favorite was the 2012 Black Sheep Pinot Noir with flavors of black cherry, candied ham and ripe berries. It was rich and tasty! 

Next, we ventured over to Geyserville to visit Silver Oak, which specializes exclusively in Cabernet Sauvignon. The AFC Championship game was happening during our visit and the winery staff kept visitors updated on the score via a chalk board. 

Silver Oak also had a food pairing for us to enjoy. Black truffle and mushroom pizza from their own wood-fired oven! It was so yummy and, of course, fresh!

We still had some more time, so we added one more winery to finish out our WINEland journey. We visited Geyser Peak Winery. Our day was pretty heavy on the red wines and one of our traveling companions prefers whites. Geyser Peak was recommended for this reason. I was pretty wine-ed out by this time, so I just had a taste of the offerings. I did confirm one thing over the course of the weekend though. I really really do not enjoy sauvignon blanc! 

If you thought our day was over, we still had more tasting to do! We headed to Russian River Brewing Company, which we had tried to visit the previous night. I did not order anything to sample, but I had a couple of sips of the famous Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. Unlike my friends, I do not appreciate IPAs so those beers were lost on me.  

On our way back into San Francisco, we stopped by Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma for dinner and more beer sampling. I shared the "Around the World in 16 Beers" tasting with two other girls and we barely made a dent in it. Again, my beer palate is pretty limited, but they were fun to try and the setting was nice. There were large picnic tables in an outdoor beer garden. The food here was also very pub-ish, so it was nachos for me! 

It was a fun weekend of catching up with old friends, eating delicious food, enjoying plenty of adult beverages and spending time outside in beautiful weather!

Until next time, San Francisco!

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