West Coast Adventures: Healdsburg
September 29, 2010 § 2 Comments
Picking up from where we left off in Portland, Rupert and I hopped on a plane to SFO where we rented a car and set out towards wine country – Healdsburg to be exact. En route, we stopped at Muir Woods, where we took in the gigantic redwoods and hiked a nice (very uphill) 2-mile loop off the beaten tourist path. Post hike, we hoped back in the car and made our way to Healdsburg, arriving at our bed and breakfast in the late afternoon.
After some extensive online research, Rupert and I stumbled upon this six room inn online and I can’t imagine our trip without it. The owners, Dane and Rita, are wonderfully friendly and passionate about their historic inn. Rita prepared extravagant breakfasts each morning, which were a fun way and we enjoyed meeting and chatting with the other guests each morning at the breakfast table. Each evening, Dane opened a few bottles of wine and broke out the cheese and crackers on the patio for a pre-dinner quaff. They made wonderful recommendations of wineries in the area and were full of dining recommendations as well. The views from the inn were absolutely spectacular and we woke up each morning having trouble believing a place could be so peaceful and beautiful.
Our first night in Healdsburg, we ventured to Zazu after hearing many great things about the restaurant’s incredible salumi (made under the black pig meat co. label) and chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart’s passion for local food. While a large part of our dinner was focused on cheese and salumi, we also tried some delicious ricotta gnudi, a white bean spread, roasted beets and fried potatoes with a delicious aioli for dipping. It was a somewhat random selection of our what caught our eye, and all of it was delicious. With the constantly changing menu, I would eat here again and again and would especially like to try brunch on our next trip.
Biking through Wine Country
The next morning, after fueling up on breakfast at the Raford Inn, we heading into town to rent a pair of bikes for the day. We reasoned these would serve as our transportation and economically keep the amount of wine we purchased to what fit on our bike bags. After our biking adventure through Portland we were pros, and the Russian River valley proved a lovely, relatively flat area full of cyclers. In total we covered about 12 miles with several stops along the way for photos, wine tasting, lunch, picking blackberries on the side of the road, etc. It was the perfect weather for riding. Here is a rundown of the two wineries were we made pit stops for tasting during our ride:
Our first stop along our tour de vins, was Quivira. We ditched our helmets (safety first!), locked up our bikes and stolled into the tasting room. Here I fell in love with Zinfandel, specifically the 2007 Anderson Valley Zin. We vowed to return the next day via automobile to take a bottle home, and now I’m eagerly awaiting an occasion to drink it! Another thing about Quivira that appealed to me was the biodynmic nature of their wine growing and farming. The more I learn about organic and biodynamic wines and methods, the more strongly I believe in them!
Preston of Dry Creek
Preston lies tucked away about half a mile off the main road on a gravel/dirt drive, but the guy at the bike store told us it was one of his favorites and well worth the trek. He was RIGHT. Equally as impressive as the wines at Preston was the fresh produce they had for sale on the porch. Even more impressive, however, was the freshly baked bread and olive oil made in house. We snagged the last loaf of what appeared to be a whole wheat sourdough loaf bread, and later learned the breads are only made a fw times a week for sale there in small batches. Dipped in the rich olive oil, it still sticks out in my mind as the best bread I’ve ever eaten (and I honestly don’t think that was my bike-enduced huger talking). We accented our picnic with a soft cows milk cheese and some fresh strawberries and plums. It was the perfect lunch eaten outside on a picnic table following our tasting. We even had a furry visitor to share it with:
One of the coolest things we sampled at Preston was not in fact wine but actually kefir soda, something the winemaker enjoyed playing around with on the side. This strawberry flavored, slightly fermented soda was delicious and refreshing without the pucker effect of Kombucha. I would be a top customer should he ever decide to bottle and sell that as well!
Upon returning the bikes, we also stopped in at Arista and Twomey for additional tastings. The Twomey tasting room may have been the coolest one we visited with the most spectacular view. The Pinot Noir was out of this world.
The next morning, after another spectacular breakfast at the Raford Inn, we were off to Yountville via Napa. For that adventure, you’ll have to wait until the next installment!