Sonoma Day 3

Our final day in Sonoma began, once again, with exercise. Our friends went for a bike ride while Katie and I went for a run. I was very pleased that this was my first run in weeks during which my hip flexor did not feel injured – now I could get back to training!

After breakfast we set out in our car to explore the wineries around Healdsburg. First stop: Unti Vineyards. Unti’s wines didn’t jazz me that much but I did like that they produced several Italian varietals, including a sangiovese and barbera.

On the recommendation of one of Katie’s coworkers we stopped at Dry Creek General Store for lunch and it did not disappoint. We strongly recommend the eggg salad with smoked salmon sandwich!

Next on the tour was Preston Vineyards, which had been recommended to us by a friend of a friend. While we loved that it was all organic, the wines didn’t appeal to any of us and, for the first time, we poured many of ours out into the spit bucket. The olive oil they made there was delicious, though.

A bit disgruntled by that experience, we were looking for something to turn it around – and did we ever find it! As we were driving out of the Preston estate, we saw a sign for barrel tastings at Zichichi, a winery we didn’t know but a proposition we clearly couldn’t resist. Zichichi’s wines were pleasant (Some of their zinfandel vines are 85+ years old!), their office walls were covered with football pictures, and they had an adorable doberman pincher puppy outside – we had our mojo back!

While biking that morning our friend had seen a sign for grilled oysters so we decided to go get some as a mid-afternoon snack. Unfortunately, when we arrived at Lambert Bridge, it was immediately evident that A. the sign had actually advertised wood-fired pizzas (We blame the misreading on the previous day’s wine consumption.) and B. they were all out of pizza. Doh! Not to worry, though, their wines were great and they had some great dogs: a great pyranees puppy and a 200 lb saint bernard!

Our final stop of the day was to Christopher Creek Winery, where we tasted all of their award-winning wines. There was a kindly old man telling funny stories and pouring wine, which really enhanced the experience. My favorite there was their port.

Having missed out on our grilled oysters, by this point we were raring for dinner. The restaurant we intended to frequent turned out to be closed Monday so we picked up a late reservation at Cyrus, which was highly acclaimed.

To kill time before Cyrus we stopped into Willi’s oyster bar, which had great seafood and good local wines to pair with it. This place was a real pleasure and we were almost sad to leave it for Cyrus.

Our table wasn’t quite ready yet at Cyrus, so we had a cocktail in the bar. Their cocktail menu was very innovative and the drinks were great.

You can read our full review of Cyrus at Yelp but the short version is that we were horribly disappointed by our experience there. The food was generally good but not great and some dishes were very over salted. The wine pairings selected for us were mediocre, didn’t pair well with our dishes, and were ostentatiously presented by a “wine steward” who knew very little about wine outside of his rehearsed speeches. Perhaps they didn’t have the “A” team going because it was Monday night, but a Michelin two-star restaurant should not have “off” nights – especially at the prices they were charging.

Our closing dinner was a bitter disappointment but it couldn’t take the shine off of what had been an absolutely wonderful weekend. We fell in love with California wine country and we will clearly need to return frequently to continue exploring!

Published by Bryan Guido Hassin

These are the musings of a global cleantech entrepreneur. This blog began as a way to document my experience during the IMD MBA in Switzerland and now is the place where I publish eclectic thoughts on business, politics, fitness, entertainment, travel, wine, sports, and . . . whatever else is top of mind.

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