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CA: Sonoma County: Wander Sonoma’s Westside, Part 1

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Life during the week is crazy. Having a weekend trip mirror that intensity is pure insanity. It’s great when a getaway is easy and relaxing. That’s what makes it thoroughly enjoyable.

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Not too long ago, my husband and I meandered along the 12-mile drive between Healdsburg and River Road in Sonoma County. It’s filled with oaks and redwoods in addition to the many vineyards. There is a lot going on along this scenic route – stunning vistas, interesting wines, artisanal products and terrific hospitality.

Stay: If a lush country retreat is of interest, Vintners Inn by Ferrari Carrano is your spot. Located just off River Road, a short distance from Westside Road, the Italian-inspired inn is as tasteful as their eponymous wines. Nestled among vines and gardens, the accommodations are spread out among three two-story buildings. The comfortable rooms boast fireplaces and private balconies with all the amenities. Environmentally-conscious, the hotel has its own waste water treatment facility and uses reclaimed water to irrigate the vineyards and gardens. The gardens supply the popular restaurant (see Dine below).

Freshly brewed coffee is outside your bedroom door – nice before you have breakfast served on the terrace or in the dining room of the Inn. The warm banana bread (with homemade blueberry jam) was mouth-watering as was the Country Breakfast with Shiloh Hill Farm eggs and Hobb’s apple wood smoked bacon. Also great: The corned beef hash which is smoked in-house.

Find another wine country option at Thomas George Estates. Ranch houses dating from the 1920s have been extensively remodeled and now offer luxe accommodations. From a studio to a three bedroom, some have a hot tub and all have access to a pool. In the morning find fixings for breakfast, including farm fresh eggs. And don’t miss their olive oil and secret seasoning mix supplied for hot air popcorn! (707-431-8031, )

Dine: Dinner that night was at the John Ash & Co. restaurant at Vintners Inn. The vaulted ceiling, warm lighting and soft colors enhance the dining experience. The seasonal menu not only leverages the relationship the restaurant enjoys with local farmers but features items harvested from their own garden.

Try the Asian style ahi tuna tartare served with wakame salad and the calamari fritti kicked up with Thai basil dipping sauce. The pan seared scallops and Gulf prawns were sweet and tender and the Moroccan spiced lamb was an interesting combination of a grilled chop, ribs and sausage. From the Ferrari-Carano collection we chose the 2012 Chardonnay and 2011 Siena (a Sangiovese blend). The warm apple and blackberry fruit crisp with a caramel sauce and melting vanilla gelato was great with the 2007 Eldorado Gold and the 2008 Eldorado Noir dessert wines.

OTHER ESSENTIALS: Russian River Valley Winegrowers; Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley; Westside Road Wineries Association; Sonoma County Visitors Bureau:

PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb

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