I complete my California Wine Country Experience with a Visit to Sonoma County and more of Napa Valley
The final 2 days of my California Wine County Experience were busy and long. The morning after the outstanding dinner on the Napa Valley Wine Train I was up early to grab some coffee and a plate of the Embassy Suites delicious pancakes with a side of bacon before boarding the tour bus for the ride to Sonoma County. Our first stop for the day was in Petaluma, California for a visit to the Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Company. The Cowgirl Creamery, opened in 1997 was started by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith in Pt. Reyes Station on the coast of California, about an hour north of San Francisco. They put in a small plant for making hand-crafted cheese, bought organic milk from their neighbor and began to make delicious, artisan cheese. Today, Cowgirl Creamery makes just a small collection of cheeses, four, soft aged and three fresh, totaling about 3,000 pounds per week. Our host from the Creamery greeted us with some freshly made cottage cheese and strawberries that tasted wonderful (and I don't like cottage cheese) and gave us a short talk on cheese making before taking us on a tour of the plant. We tasted several different cheeses in different stages of aging before boarding the bus to continue to our next destination, the Adobe Road Winery.
Adobe Road Winery is owned by renowned sports car racer and entrepreneur Kevin Buckler and his wife, Debra. Located in the middle of a Porsche race car shop, Adobe Road Winery produces award winning Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Meritage, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Dessert Wines exclusively from Sonoma and Napa County sources. Walking into the winery, you immediately notice all of the race car memorabilia and there are actual Porsche cars on the floor just outside the tasting room. Not being much of a race car buff, I was more interested in the wines which were very good. For an out of the ordinary wine tasting experience, I definitely recommend the Adobe Road Winery, if not for the wine, definitely for the winemaker, a Josh Groban look alike if there ever was one. Here is a link to tell you how to find it:
Adobe Road tasting room
Adobe Road winemaker, Michael Scorsone
Leaving the Adobe Road Winery we moved on to two area resorts, the Sheraton in Petaluma and the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa. While the Sheraton was a nice property where we had a nice sit down lunch, I really enjoyed our visit to the Flamingo. Straight out of a 1950's movie set, the Flamingo is a historic landmark. A privately owned family resort for over 30 years, the hotel opened in 1957 and became a society hot spot and was the place to see and be seen. Movie stars like Jayne Mansﬁeld were often found sunning themselves by the pool in those days. Walking on to the property I was impressed at how well maintained everything was as well as the warm and friendly family atmosphere. Our hosts from the resort ushered us out to a covered patio where we had delicious cocktails and wine waiting for us. It was another sunny and warm day, with bright blue skies and we were all ready to sit down and cool off for a little while taking in the scenery. We enjoyed our cocktails for a bit and then took a tour around the resort. We had a really nice visit.
Flamingo Resort entrance
Flamingo Resort pool
Comfortable bed at the Flamingo Resort
Our final stop of the day was the Hilton Sonoma, a beautiful property in a quiet picturesque location in Sonoma County. Our host took us on a short tour of the resort before guiding us to their onsite restaurant where we they had some great wine and delicious food waiting for us. The view from the restaurant was wonderful and it was the perfect location to end the day. On the way back to Napa Valley we drove through the town of Sonoma where they were holding a festival in the town square. There were people camped out with picnic baskets and bands playing music in the shaded square. It looked like fun, but we did not have time to stop so I put it on my list of things to do on my next visit.
Hilton hotel room
My final day in California Wine Country started early again with breakfast and a tour of the Napa Westin and Napa River Terrace Inn hotels near downtown Napa. The Westin was a large resort in a great location within walking distance of many tourist spots including fine restaurants and tasting rooms. The River Terrace Inn was right next door. Both properties backed up to a public walkway along the Napa River and were great places to stay for a visit to Napa Valley.
Westin Resort lobby
Our group enjoys the Westin patio
Westin hotel room
Path along the Napa River toward the River Terrace Inn
River Terrace Inn hotel room
River Terrace Inn Lobby
Our next stop of the day was the St Helena Olive Oil Company. Everyone just loved this store because of all the samples of olive oil, pasta sauces, mustards, vinegars and flavored salts available to taste. In just over 30 minutes we all found something to buy to take home. I found some expensive white truffle salt and some smoke flavored salt to take home. I decided that if I wanted anything else it would be easy to order it online once I made it home.
St Helena Olive Oil Company inside
For lunch we visited the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa Valley. Set upon 1,200 beautiful acres, in the heart of Napa Valley, Silverado combines state-of-the-art business facilities with endless recreational choices. You can play a round of golf on one of two award-winning, PGA championship courses, or enjoy a soothing fireside massage in the full service spa. There are 10 swimming pools and 13 tennis courts along with many hiking and biking trails. Silverado is close to more than 200 wineries so you're never too far away from a spectacular Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Lunch was provided for our group out on the lawn under umbrellas that provided some shade form the summer sun. We were also treated to free 10 minute back and neck massages before taking a short tour of the resort. I was feeling really good by the time we left the Silverado for downtown Napa!
Lunch on the lawn
Silverado Resort golf course
In downtown Napa we visited the Napa Valley Visitor's Center and the Oxbow Market, a indoor shopping and restaurant complex. Leaving downtown, our tour bus returned us to the Embassy Suites for some down time to relax and pack for our departures home the next day. That evening, I enjoyed some great wine and a delicious dinner with 3 of my new Travel Agent friends at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa Valley. It was a lovely relaxed evening with wonderful Italian food that included an order of fantastic fried olives as appetizers. It was a wonderful conclusion to our fantastic California Wine Country Tour. Flying home to Alabama the next day I reflected on my experiences of the last 4 days and I decided that it had been an almost perfect trip. I was already planning my next visit to California Wine Country and I planned to bring lots of people back with me!
Next, I return to my A Trek Thru the British Isles travel diary.
Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
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