I’ve lived here in the Bay Area for almost four years and even though wine country is a quick ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, I haven’t spent much time up there. Silly, I know! Over July 4th weekend, I jumped into a convertible with two of my best girls and drove deep into wine country to check out a list of wineries and further our education on Northern California wines.
First, where to go? There’s so many wineries up there, it’s difficult to know where to start. But, let’s face it, Napa’s for tourists and crowded. If you’re looking for wineries that don’t take themselves too seriously and are affordable, head north into Sonoma County, specifically the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and even though you can’t physically do any tastings in the wineries (go to local tasting rooms to find bottles), it’s a safe bet that you’ll like just about anything in Knight’s Valley. During my time up in Sonoma County, I developed a love for the region and two wines in particular.
I’ve got two topics for you to remember from this post: Viogniers and Chocolate Port. I’m usually a red wine girl (give me a malbec or a tempranillo and I am one happy girl), but the Sonoma County heat called for whites (it was over 95!). Just a few weeks prior to to my trip up north, I bought a very nice bottle of 2010 Paxar Viognier at Plumpjack‘s retail store up in the Marina to take to a BBQ. I feel in love with this flavorful and refreshing (it’s sweet but crisp and a little dry) wine and couldn’t wait to try it again. There was an abundance of viogniers available in Sonoma County, which made me one happy taster. I bought one bottle of Russian Hill Estate’s 2008 Viognier, courtesy of Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville and one bottle of Trentadue’s 2009 Viognier. As the summer goes on (even SF summers), I look forward to sampling this wine on a more frequent basis.
Now for the chocolate port. That’s right. Chocolate port. Just let your mind wrap around that for a moment. It’s as amazing as what you just thought of…and more. I LOVE port, especially tawny ports. One of the girlfriends who was with me on this wine tasting excursion told me about this mythical chocolate port, and I kept pestering her about it and where it was until we actually pulled up to the Trentadue Wineries and was able to try it for myself. It’s heaven in a bottle, people! How is this wonder of nature produced? Chocolate extract is infused into the final blend before bottling. It’s great for sipping, but even better over vanilla ice cream. Go get some!
I hope these little teases inspire you to head up to wine country and start exploring yourself! Let me know what you come across!
Until next week (and my next obsession)!
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