Today, we started off in the Alexander Valley region which turned out to be our favorite. It was absolutely beautiful, quiet, spread out, and also a great place for wines! Robert Young Winery was our first stop. We really enjoyed this tasting. The family poured the wines as they told us a bit about the history of their family and the winery itself. All of their wines were fantastic and we placed an order for their 2008 Chardonnay, 2007 Merlot, and the 2006 Scion which is a red blend (primarily Cab-Sav.) The wine is expensive but worth it (we think.)
Our next stop was Stryker Sonoma. We were starting to get all wined out and our palates were less discerning. But I could tell that their Zinfandel and Petite Verdot were special. I would send a friend here not just for the wine but also for the views. They were gorgeous and there was also a nice patio with fireplace for the warmer weather.
Another favorite that we came across was Hawkes Wine. They had excellent Cabernets! We actually bought futures of each of their Cabs.
After too much wine, we decided to drive to downtown Healdsburg and grab lunch so that we could start fresh later. We went to the Oakville Grocery and picked up some phenomenal meats and cheeses to snack on. (Cypress Grove Homboldt Fog Cheese- creamy, soft, and a bit sharp; Proscuitto; and Spicy Salami) On our Napa trip, we actually went to the same place for lunch at their second location so we knew to look for this. This was a better experience since last time a bird pecked at my head. :-)
Our last two tastings were in downtown Healdsburg. First, we went to the Topel Tasting Room. The wines were "meh" at best. But we were excited to run into some Georgia Tech alumni there. For our very last wine tasting, we went to La Crema. Their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were really good. However, we didn't purchase anything since we see their wine at our local grocery and wine shops all the time.
The place that we went to for dinner was by far our best meal, Zazu. It is on a farm and the theme here is "the pig." There are a lot of bacon inspired entrees among other things. The entire menu sounded so amazing that I couldn't decide what to order. Because of that, we decided to get a variety of things and share. I would suggest checking out their menu except that it was completely different from what is posted on their website. We really couldn't drink anymore that day so we both ordered root beers which is pretty out of character for us but cute nonetheless :-). For starters, we shared an order of their bacon-wrapped dates...SO good. Then, we had deviled eggs which were creamy and amazing. I'm not sure what the secret was but they were better than any that I've ever had. Next, we had the brussel sprout salad. The brussel sprouts tasted like they were pan-roasted in olive oil and were tossed with some asian pears, hazelnuts, and bacon. For the entree, we ordered the "The Black Pig Sugo." It was braised pork in a light tomato-based sauce served over green noodles and arugula. We also ordered a side of bacon. The bacon there is wonderful. You can actually join a bacon club and have packs of it shipped to you. The best part is that the pigs are heritage breed, raised without antibiotics and hormones, and are allowed to roam free range.
To sum it all up, here are my recommendations for anyone traveling to Sonoma:
Restaurants: Zazu, Dry Creek Kitchen, Oakville Grocery (pack a picnic)
For the wine: Harvest Moon, Hawkes, David Coffaro, Robert Young
For the atmosphere: Paradise Ridge, Stryker Sonoma, Bella Caves
We went to additional places (non-wine related) and towns but I didn't want to bore you with more information and pictures. So if you are planning a trip and have questions, feel free to comment with your email address or questions.