After a flurry of post-CleanTech-Open meetings Thursday and Friday, Katie and two friends joined me for three days of wine tasting!
Thursday I met up with many Rice and IMD alumni in the San Francisco Bay area while winding my way 90 miles up to Petaluma, where I stayed the night with a friend of mine from TJ. Yes, I made it from San Jose to Palo Alto to San Francisco to Larkspur by way of public transportation – how refreshing, coming from Houston! I did, however, rely on my friend’s chauffeur skills to take me the final leg to Petaluma.
My friend, Ashley, who is a full-time mom and mom blogger, has a great house complete with chicken coop, which made for an excellent breakfast! Thursday night she made an awesome welcome dinner for me and one of the neighbors – so welcome after days of hotel food! Friday, after spending the day back in the city, I returned to Petaluma to wait for Katie and our two friends.
This was an excellent decision because, not only did this mean another great dinner, but the same neighbor returned with his wife, who turned out to be AWESOME! Her name is Leslie Sbrocco and she is a prominent wine critic in the Bay area – SCORE! Friday night dinner quickly became a vinolicious affair and we were quite happy by the time that Katie and our friends came to pick me up.
Katie had rented us a little two bedroom, two bath house in Healdsburg, which is a charming town. The little house was exactly what we needed: central location, great kitchen, and comfortable beds for sleeping off the wine!
Having never toured/tasted in California before, I deferred to our friend, who had been there several times. He put together a basic program (which still allowed for significant improvisation) and Leslie helped us with a few more suggestions and hookups.
Saturday morning we woke up, all went for a run, and then had a great breakfast to prepare us for the day. Our first tasting was at J, which was pretty commercialized. There were many others tasting there and some of the staff weren’t terribly knowledgeable. But some of the staff were knowledgeable (and personable!) and that made all the difference. Wine tasting – like most things – is really made or broken by the people involved. We tasted some so-so white wines, some better red wines, and some much better bubbly, which is what I really associate with J anyway.
Afterward we made our way to Kosta Browne, the winery behind 2011’s top wine of the year according to Wine Spectator. There we tasted a good chardonnay and lots of pinot. Our favorite by far was the 2009 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir.
We wrapped up the day at Arista, where we had a GREAT pourer behind the counter. She was a grape grower herself so was intensely knowledgeable about the wines, the region, the climate, and everything else. We tasted so many wines that I can’t remember them to post them here and we spent so much time tasting and talking with her that we shut the place down.
After a brief nap we rallied and headed into downtown Healdsburg for dinner. We began at Spoon for really innovative cocktails that compete with those from Anvil. Afterward we had a long, intense, and excellent dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen. Once again we shut the place down and they practically had to roll us out of there. Katie’s full review is on Yelp. I would say that Sonoma Day 1 was a huge success!