Anyway, our road trip was a huge success. We left Seattle last Thursday at 6:30 am. We had plenty of tasty snacks to satisfy our road hunger (do any of you get ravenous on road trips?) - veggies and hummus, several bags of Pirate's Booty, and unlimited supply of Trader Joe's roasted seaweed snacks, and trail mix.
The drive down was a breeze, with no traffic except for a brief slowdown in Portland. We made it to my uncle and aunt's ranch in under 13 hours, and that's with plenty of stops at rest areas to pee and stretch our legs.
Michelle and The Scientist (representin' in his Sounders FC jersey)
We arrived at the ranch as the sun was starting to set. We picked the last of the peaches off his peach trees (We picked so many that I've been eating at least 3 a day and we still have enough to make at least two pies).
Check out all those peaches on the ground! There were tons more in the trees, too.
Nico and The Scientist playing an inning of Peach Ball
After dinner we headed over to the house in Petaluma where we would be staying. The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and our plan was to head into wine country. But first we stopped at one of my favorite spots in Petaluma, Della Fattoria, a delightful restaurant and bakery. We got some sandwiches to go, along with a loaf of their famous bread, and headed toward Sonoma.
First Winery - Cline Cellars
The Scientist and I frequently drink one of their Zins ($8.99 at Cost Plus!) so we wanted to see where the magic happens! The grounds were beautiful, the staff was welcoming and friendly, and the wines were delicious! We bought 3 bottles, Nico and Michelle bought 4. And to our happy surprise, the tasting was complimentary even before we made our purchases (tastings at most wineries are $10-20 per person, but that is typically waived IF you buy a bottle).
Nico and The Scientist at Cline
The lovely grounds
After Cline, we had planned on heading further north to the Alexander Valley, but the people at Cline recommended we head across the street to Jacuzzi. Jacuzzi specializes in Italian varietals, whereas Cline specializes in Rhone and Zinfandels, so we happily crossed the street to get the contrast to what we had just been drinking.
Second Winery - Jacuzzi
We had a fantastic time here. Their tasting room is huge and is also complimentary! Not only that, but it was unlimited tastings. The staff here was also extremely friendly and our visit was really positive and lively. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time here. They also have an olive oil tasting room with countless flavored oils and vinegars. We bought a bottle of wine and a bottle of white balsamic vinegar (which was so, so tasty).
Nico and his new friend
Michelle, The Scientist, and Myself
After this we drove through Sonoma and headed up north a bit. Michelle had a guide book to wineries that were off the beaten path, so we picked a couple of them to visit.
Third Winery - Kaz
Kaz was...interesting. It's a small family run winery specializing in organic grapes and organic production processes. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of organic wines. Without the added sulfites, the wines are just too acidic for me. The wines were ok but not my favorite. We still had a great time here, though, because the grounds are basically the family's backyard. It has a really funky vibe and is pretty much exactly the type of place The Scientist and I would consider for our wedding someday.
The Scientist and Nico playing some lawn game in the backyard
Lotus flower in the Koi pond
Adorable gargoyle. He was about a foot tall. So cute!
Fourth Winery - Mayo Family Reserve Room
This was the last winery we visited and we chose it because they stay open until 6:30 (most other wineries close at 5). The Reserve Room is known for it's wine and food pairings, but that's only during the day so we didn't partake. The chef, however, was still there pouring the wines for our tasting. I don't know what we did or what we said, but this guy was the most pretentious asshole I've ever met. First of all, his name is Maxwell Porter-Elliott. The only way that name could get any more douchebaggy is if you added a roman numeral to the end. Secondly, the guy is only in his late 20s but treated us like children. Thirdly (thirdly? is that even a word? it sounds so weird...), the four of us love to cook. The food menu looked AH-MAZING. So naturally we wanted to talk to him about it. Michelle was curious about one of the items on the menu so she asked how it's made. His response? "Even if I told you, you wouldn't be able to make it." Um...is that a challenge, Maxwell Porter-Elliott the Fourth? I ACCEPT. Seriously. What a douchebag. He made several similar comments throughout our time there, and even though the wines were wonderful, his attitude pretty much tainted the experience. But it also provided us with excellent fodder for jokes and conversations throughout the trip.
We finished off the day with some delicious Mexican food and headed back to the house. I think we were in bed by 10:30 that night because we were so beat from all the sunshine and drinking.
This post is getting long, so I'm going to split this out into a few parts. Stay tuned for Part II - San Francisco!