An hour’s drive from Berkeley and we were in Sonoma. The little sister of Napa, the major town of this winery region north of San Francisco. We pulled into the main square of Sonoma. Apparently it was the biggest town square in California. It was large but not massive. Who knows what the scale of town squares in California is but this was apparently the biggest. I do like the town square concept though, a distinct centre of town.
We checked in at the El Dorado hotel, mostly because it was called the El Dorado hotel. We got the last room too. Despite staying in Sonoma we headed on to Napa, specifically the wineries in the surrounding valleys. Things didn’t go the way the do in Australia though. Arrving at the first winery, Frog’s leap, we strolled up to the wine tasting bar expecting them to lay out their latest vintage in order of lightest to darkest. However a tasting was $15 per person. We casually said we’ll take a look at the gardens first, which was code for start up the Mustang and get the hell out of here.
Next stop was the Andretti Winery owned by the Indy car racing family of the same name. This one still charged but we shared the one tasting as I was driving anyway. Having driven 20 miles around to get to two wineries we headed back to Sonoma and preferred it as it was more low key. Our 3rd winery Shugg was one a little hill in an old country house and we were sat down in what felt like the living room and given a speil about the family and how they came to be making wine. Then the wine flowed free of charge. Success for them as we walked away with a bottle of their finest Pinot.
Back to our El Dorado, drop the car, get some cheese, and go to the winery on the other side of the square, in that order. Although the ‘winery’ was closer to a bottle shop that did wine tastings. But at least at this one the Mustang was safely tucked away and we could sit and savour each glass. ‘Would I be able to try some more of that Barbera’ acting all knowledgeable when it was just a ruse to get another free drink! We did buy a few bottles though.
We settled on dinner at the El Dorado as it was a pretty flash hotel and the restaurant particularly looked good and overlooked the swimming pool. I ordered the Petaluma chicken. I’m not sure what Petaluma means but it was damn tasty! Close to the best chicken I’ve ever tasted. Washed down with a bottle of wine. It would be rude not to.