Greet, Meet, Eat, Repeat

Wine vacations done right!

cheers to summer visitors
With vacation season upon us, wine-loving citizens from around the world will make summer pilgrimages to California for our glorious weather and wine. If you've got a couch-camping second cousin, are hosting a college roommate reunion, or helping in-laws explore, I've got some thoughts on how you can make this the best wine vacation they've ever had. Hint: it's all about making the trip feel personal.

Kickoff their visit with a casual wine tasting evening at your home. Road-weary guests might not want a big feast. Serving instead a Tuscan style meal of cured meats, cheeses, breads and salads makes for a great welcome dinner. Before they leave their homes, ask that guests pick up a bottle of wine from a favorite winery near where they live. In the meantime, you grab a bottle of the same varietal from Northen California. This will allow you to do a vertical tasting (i.e. same varietal, different appellations). Disguise the bottles or decant the wine before you pour. Taste the wines side-by-side and see if you can guess which is which. I predict you'll each be able to pick out the wine from your area. It's a perfect starter to a conversation about terroir and regional differences.    

If you are not yet familliar with the Westside Road wine trail, I'm delighted to introduce you to it. While I believe that all wine tasting adventures are worthy adventures, the ones that feel as though you've discovered something unique seem to be the best. By diverting from Napa and exploring the wineries of Westside Road in Sonoma County, your visitors will get to experience smaller and more intimate wineries. In fact, you might even meet the wine maker at some of these family-owned spots. Mill Creek Winery is one such tasting room.

choose the path less taken
Pinot Noir fans in particluar will love exploring Westside Road because many of the incredible Russian River Valley producers are located along the wine trail. Arista Winery and Moshin Winery are both palate-pleasing options. 

great food and fun
The food scene in Sonoma County is amazing these days. Places such as Barn Diva and Willi's Wine Bar are taking the field-to-table quest in all sorts of exciting directions. I'm a massive fan of Underwood in Graton and feel certain one visit will make you a devotee too. Their selection of tapas allow for communal dining with your friends. Make reservations, but show up early enough to play a round of bocce ball and have a cocktail on their back patio. It is a very good time.

Be ready as I suspect word will spread of the amazing wine tours you give, and you'll soon have other guests making their way to your door.


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