Oh, hey, remember we went to California back in October & I completely forgot to finish the recap of our trip. Let’s hit the highlights, they’re too good to pass up…plus, we’ve got a few friends heading out that way soon & they need recommendations (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m insanely jealous).
We fueled up for a long day of drinking at Page’s Diner, all thanks to Yelp. This tiny unassuming place is in a shopping center we would have driven by without a second thought & I’m pretty sure we were the only people under the age of 60 at the time of morning we were there, but the food, especially dishes with fresh avocado & the creamy salsa (that should be put all over everything) more than make up for the atmosphere.
The first winery stop of the day was the Russian River tasting room of HANNA winery, nestled between their Chardonnay & Pinot Noir vineyards. HANNA’s biggest production wine is their Sauvignon Blanc, but since we’re always on the hunt something a little different & special we happily tasted our way through their smaller production reds, including the reserve label Elias Pinot Noir. It was a great place to ease into the day of tasting.
Next, we headed north to Healdsburg for Armida, the maker of Poizin. While the graphic skull & crossbones on the bottles (which also come in glittery pink) don’t necessarily scream “sophisticated wine”, the contents certainly do. We grabbed one for the road.
Just down the street, we met up with our friends at Twomey Cellars. Most wine drinkers are familiar with Silver Oak & their famous California Cabs & the very same winemaking family is behind the Twomey label, which branches out to create approachable & food friendly Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir & Merlot. We sipped our wine in the sun drenched tasting room, overlooking the valley vineyards until a full bus of people unloaded…but we needed to get some lunch anyway.
Our lovely tasting room attendant at Twomey pointed us to Big John’s Market for sandwiches, that we took with us to enjoy the hot sun & a bottle of Chardonnay on the patio of Sbragia, a favorite stop from our honeymoon. They’ve upgraded their outdoor space since the last time we visited & the views are just spectacular. We were able to drink it all in once the group belting out “I Got Friends in Low Places” (On a Sunday afternoon. In the daylight.) packed it up.
After Sbragia, we continued up Dry Creek Road to Truett Hurst, the very first winery we visited on our honeymoon. The tasting is free & the wines are small production & world class, so it’s absolutely worth a visit. Even a second one in our case.
We finished up our wine tasting for the day at Mauritson, which we actually learned about through a wine shop in Raleigh, having been to a tasting with Matt Weese. While we were making our way through the tasting line up, we asked if he still worked there. He doesn’t, but he’s actually using some of the Mauritson facilities for his own wine poured straight from the barrel at his wine bar Barrique in San Francisco, we found out. We got his card to check out later on in our trip & a bottle of the rosé, which I really loved.
Basically, the only way to stay standing during a marathon day like this is to share, share, share & don’t be at all afraid to dump the wines you don’t love. Pro tip: If you have a Visa Signature card, tastings at tons of Sonoma County wineries are free, regardless of whether you buy something or not.
We finished off the evening at Russian River Brewing Company, which is basically the equivalent of Mecca for beer drinkers. They currently have seven beers on Beer Advocate’s Top 250 & this is the exact spot Tom & I first tasted & fell completely in love with sour beers almost three & a half years ago. We got two samplers for the table, because it would be silly not try at least a little of everything they had on tap, followed by pints of our favorites & pizza. It’s safe to say we all slept great that night…full, tipsy & exhausted.