Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wine Country

Oh, the California vices. We spent a few lovely days in Sonoma County, heart of the California wine country. We found the coastal town of Mendocino a great place to explore for a couple of days. This town is very quaint, and we found out quickly that the key to exploring the village is to wind your way between the shops and houses, through the brick pathways, courtyards, and landscaped alleys. In our explorations, we stumbled upon this beautiful B & B, the MacCallum House Inn.

Just for the sake of curiosity, we went in to check out their lobby. One thing led to another, and we soon found ourselves in one of their little cabins (at a great off-season rate).

We had a great night's sleep. Look how cozy it was!

This place had so many perks: community hot tub, croquet on the lawn, and the best complimentary breakfast ever! I mean, they offered fresh squeezed juices and mimosas along with the outstanding selection of breakfast items from their menu. At check-in, guests were given a couple of wooden nickels to use at their bar or restaurant. With these tokens we sampled some excellent wine, and Adalaya selected a Pinot Noir grape juice cocktail. We're definitely getting spoiled!

One place I really enjoyed in Mendocino was a shop called Hidden Treasures. Among other treasures, they housed an embroidery machine and a large binder full of patterns to choose from. This was very exciting for me because they could make custom patches. Since the beginning of our trip, I have been collecting patches from the State and National Parks and other places we visit and sewing them onto a blanket. It has become somewhat of a mission for me, but I had not been able to find any patches from our latest adventures. So, with the help of the storekeeper, a computer, and this fancy embroidering machine, I was able to create my own patches! So fun! George and Adalaya had to pull me away. I may become a patch designer in my next career. I'll post photos of my patch blanket project sometime soon.

After leaving Mendocino, we continued down the Sonoma County coast.

The coast is amazingly beautiful, and it's been fascinating to experience the huge effect that the Pacific Ocean has on the landscape and climate of the Northern California. We heard a weather report while we were in Mendocino; the high for Mendocino that day was 70 degrees compared to the predicted high of 100 degrees in Ukiah, about 40 miles inland. One woman I spoke to in Mendocino said they hadn't seen the sun since early July, and indeed it was socked in while we were there. Meanwhile, it is warm and dry inland. These differences make for interesting variations in wine, we discovered.

As we drove inland, the landscape changed dramatically and became dominated by vineyards loaded with ripe grapes, ready to be picked. It's harvest time, and the vineyards are busy. We stopped by a few wineries to taste their finest wines. Our favorite was Nicholson Ranch where we took a tour of their estate.

We saw the them harvesting and crushing the grapes . . .

then toured their wine cave.

And of course we took a bottle with us. Steady, George!

We also had the pleasure of visiting some friends from Celo while in Wine Country. Sam and Usha hosted us in their beautiful new home in Santa Rosa, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner that Usha prepared. It was so good to see their smiling, beautiful faces!

Serendipitously, we ran into another Celo soul when we stopped for breakfast in the town of Sonoma. Jade Pierce, my friend and acupuncturist, was sitting outside the cafe where we were about to dine, having breakfast with her parents. It was so fun to see her in her homeland and meet her folks. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast together.

Adalaya and I got to spend a little time with some other "old friends" while we were in Santa Rosa. The Charles M. Shultz Museum is located there, and that weekend was the 60th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. It was neat to see the originals of some of the oldest Peanuts cartoons, and to see how the characters had developed and grown up over the years. I loved the big mural in the entryway of the museum. Snoopy and Woodstock are my favorite cartoon characters!

And Snoopy was nice enough to share a cookie with Adalaya outside on the bench.

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