Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Part 2--Touring Sonoma Wine Road: There's No Place Like Home!

Russian River Valley Vineyards
My Backyard Wine Road
Wine tourism is about more than wine, it's the food, the lodging and the people of a region that make it a complete experience. I live smack dab in the middle of one of the greatest wine regions in the world, and sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Luckily I got a chance to see some places I was missing and gain a new appreciation for what's right outside my door.

On Day 2 of the Wine Road tour I met up with everyone for lunch at Corks Restaurant at Russian River Vineyards. I live less than 5 miles from the restaurant and I walk by several times a week on the trail that runs behind the vineyard, yet-- (repeat after me)-- I’d never been there! 

Food Bloggers vs. Wine Bloggers
I had to laugh when our host asked who would like some wine to start and no one replied. She set down the wine list and said order anything you like. Well, as the designated wine blogger I felt it was my duty to order wine for the table. I dare say for many of the bloggers, the amount of wine they were tasting over the course of three days was way more than usual.

That’s one difference between the food blogger world and the wine blogger world-- I’m positive a group of wine bloggers would never be given free reign of the wine list!

There are some beautiful (and expensive) wine’s on the list at Corks--but I kept it modest and chose a lively Atascadero Creek '10 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2009 Charbono from Russian River Vineyards.  I personally love Charbono and you rarely see it on wine lists. During the meal we also tasted several of the selections from the Corks tasting room which they poured for us tableside.

Wine Speed Dating 
After Corks, it was on to Paradise Ridge Winery for a round of speed tastings with winery representatives and winemakers. This was not like the wine speed tastings I’ve participated in before at Wine Bloggers Conference where bloggers sit a tables of 10 and the wineries go from table to table and pour. Instead, this tasting was more like a true speed dating set up, where each winemaker or representative sat at a single table and we did a musical chairs, round robin, and met for eight minutes with each person one-on-one. This was similar to the timed meetings at travel media conferences where you spend 10-15 minutes with each tourism rep.

I really liked this format for wine, as you got to interact with the winemaker on a much more meaningful level and had time to taste the wine without a rush. I knew more than half of the folks pouring, but it was fun to see old friends and participate in the speed tasting.

I was very familiar with the wines from Paradise Ridge, Hart's Desire, Foppiano, Papapietro Perry, Topel, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Dry Creek Vineyards, Carol Shelton and Hook and Ladder. {By the way, I liked the Cab Franc from Hook and Ladder so much, I went out and bought a bottle in their new tasting room the very next day.}

New to me wines were: Amorosa Bella Wines, Calluna, West Wines, and Dutcher Crossing.

No one was engaged at the end of the "speed dating" session, but I was very impressed by the few bloggers that were not used to tasting through so much wine-- they were real troopers. As any wine blogger knows, a wine press trip can be grueling in terms of the amount of wines you taste. And it’s truly hard work to taste and make notes and keep it all together wine after wine after wine.

The Lone Wine Blogger
I missed Day 3 of the tour around Dry Creek which included many of my favorite wineries including Quivira, but I was honored to be the lone wine blogger on board and hope to meet up with my new food and travel friends again very soon.

Thanks so much to Beth and Tracy from the Wine Road and Marla from Wagstaff for a well organized and informative event that even this slightly jaded local found to be full of surprises and great discoveries in my own backyard. I promise not to take it for granted ever again!

For an excellent round up of the event and beautiful photos check out Stacie Tamaki’s blog The Flirty Guide here.

Touring the Sonoma Wine Road --Part 1

Corks Resturant and Russina River Valley Vineyards
Paradise Ridge Winery
The Wine Road


  1. "I’m positive a group of wine bloggers would never be given free reign of the wine list!" That made me LOL. I'm certain you're right!

    It was great meeting you on the Wine Road! Wish you could have been there all three days but glad we got you for a day and a half :)

  2. So fun to hang out with you in your backyard! What a trip.



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