Last weekend Andy and I headed up to Sonoma for a day of wine tasting, bike riding, and picnicking. We were debating whether to go to Napa or Sonoma, but heard from friends that Sonoma is better. Apparently Napa is far more touristy and built up, where as Sonoma is more down to earth and truly about the wine.
We packed a picnic lunch, loaded our bikes, and drove the hour north to Sonoma. It was a pretty drive through an area we haven't seen yet. Because it is 'winter' here in California, Sonoma was more brown than it usually is and the vines were all empty of grapes. The area was also more empty than it would be in the summer, which is considered high tourist season. The tasting rooms that we visited were full of people though, so I can only image what their busy season is like!
We found a wonderful 15 mile bike ride that would hit 6 different wineries. Some are in the small town, but most of them are out in the countryside. If you are interested in doing the same route here is the map. You can also get a map and bike rental at Sonoma Valley Cyclery if you don't have your own bike.
The first stop we made was to Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery. Both Andy and I did a full tasting here and while we enjoyed it, it was probably a mistake. The guy pouring for us had a heavy hand. Each tasting that we did with him was probably a full quarter of a wine glass! When you are trying 12 wines that equals to be about 3 full glasses of wine. We enjoyed the wines a little too much and left quite sloshed. That is definitely NOT the best way to start a 15 mile bike ride to visit 6 different wineries.
All the wine that we drank was absolutely amazing and fantastic. It was fun to compare California wine to Virginia wine. California definitely has had more time to perfect their wines, but I think Virginia is coming along. Of course, none of our wine pourers would agree with us. Every time we mentioned Virginia wine their noses would turn up and the conversation would lull. We quickly learned not to bring Virginia wine into the conversation. Wine conversation etiquette anyone??
It was a lovely day of wine tasting and bike riding, but I must admit that after the first tasting our bike riding skills were not so great. (Luckily we were in the countryside without many cars or people to see us, ha!) After 3 wineries and a picnic we decided that we were far too drunk to finish our bike trip. Whoops! This California 18% wine is not what we are used to! No matter, we had a lovely (and long!) picnic and then some pizza and coffee to to work off the wine before heading home. I am already planning our next visit to do the same Sonoma bike trip, but next time we'll pace ourselves so we can be sure to hit all the wineries that we missed.