Wondering what to do with your end of summer vacation time? Well, if you’re taking your vacation this time of year, it’s most likely that it will be an adult vacation and not a kid orientated vacation, so why not think The Wine Country, after all, September is National Wine Month.
The uninitiate usually think Napa when they think of the California wine country but, believe me, Sonoma County is where it’s really at. This is where California’s premium wine industry had it’s birth when, Augustan Haraszthy opened his Buena Vista winery in 1857 just outside the town of Sonoma. Buena Vista is now owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, who is restoring the winery and wine is again being made in the historic stone buildings. Since this is where our premium wine industry began, this might be a good place for you to begin your wine country tour.
Before leaving the Sonoma Valley appellation you will want to visit Bartholomew Park Winery, which is on property that was originally part of Buena Vista. This winery offers one of the most quintessential wine country picnic facilities you will find anyplace.
Now, if you are looking for classic small family owned estate wineries you’ll get yourself to Olivet Road in the Russian River Appellation. Olivet road is the California wine country in miniature. These are true family owned wineries, wineries where you are treated like family when you visit.
Sunce makes a surprisingly wide selection of wines for such a small winery, outstanding wines, guaranteed to please. Do try their Malvasia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvasia, a beautiful white, wonderful with Sonoma Counties’ own Dungeness Crab.
A bit further down the road you’ll find Hook and Ladder, bit larger but still a family winery. Notice the T-shirts in the tasting room. In keeping with the name of the winery, visitors from all over the world have sent T-shirts from firehouses and they are hanging on the walls and from the ceiling. Try their Tillerman Red, a pleasant red blend, an excellent table wine.
Next down the road you’ll come to Harvest Moon, a family winery indeed. In fact you are apt to see owner/winemaker, Randy with his daughter in his arms as he watches grapes being dumped into the crusher/destemer. Don’t miss the Randy Zin or the Ice Gewurztraminer.
And at the far end of Olivet Road you’ll find Tara Bella. With only six acres under cultivation, Tara Bella is the smallest of the Olivet Road wineries. They only produce Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is truly a hand made wine. Owners Kevin and Wendy do every aspect of the production themselves.
Still in the Russian River appellation, on Highway 116, a ways north of Sebastopol in Forestville, are the beautiful Russian River Vineyards and Cork Restaurant. This superb venue offers excellent wine and world class food in a gorgeous setting. A grand place for lunch or dinner.
The wine country is a hive of activity is September. The crush is on, the vineyards are filled with the harvesters and the air is filled with the aroma of ripe fruit. Most of the tourists have gone home and the wineries are going about their normal business, the business of crafting superior wines, wines that will bring Sonoma Counties golden sun to your winter tables.