While I didn't recover form Covid in time to attend the ASTA conference in San Francisco, I still hung out in the city and continued to hide away and catch up with work. I could easily have flown home at that point but there was such a highlight scheduled at the end of my trip that I just had to stay for the experience. With Kendall and Shanna on the team also finishing up their long California road trip (see this week's blog coming soon), we all met up again in Forestville, CA.
Well away from Napa and in the northwest corner of the Sonoma wine region lies the Russian River Valley and some simply charming properties, and I mean both hotels and vineyards.
I had not realized just how different this micro region would be compared with Napa Valley. Now, it's each to their own, but our 24 hours exploring revealed many more still family-run wine estates and far less crowds than my previous experiences in Napa and this really appealed to me.
It was so good that this 24 hours deserves a Top 5 all of its own.
Top 5 - 24 Hours in the Russian River Valley
1. Farmhouse Inn, Forestville ( 4 photos above and 1 below)
Sheer heaven! This 25-room boutique luxury hotel, rated one of the best in the world, blends the outdoors and indoors with two-sided gas fireplaces, private patios, open-air hallways, and plenty of communal outdoor spaces. In addition to the spacious suites, the Farmhouse Inn boasts a 3,000-square-foot Wellness Barn and a farm-to-fork restaurant, which offers cuisine featuring fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Our 6-course tasting menu with wine pairing was exquisite.
Top tip: Don't miss the daily complimentary wine hour with local vintners who share their wine and stories with guests.
2. Enriquez Estate WInes (below)
This small 8 1/2 acre vineyard was a true delight. Almost the complete opposite of commercial wineries, we sat, drank, ate and chatted with our host for 2 hours and the time just flew. Highlights were some unusual varietals for the area such as a dry muscat along with a couple of tempranillos which were a big ripe hit!
3. Passalacqua Winery (above)
A slightly larger enterprise than Enriquez but still rooted in family values and a winery with a passion for attention to each detail of the winemaking process and a strong belief in focusing on small-lot production.
They use a vineyard expressionist approach to winemaking, allowing the uniqueness of each vineyard and each varietal to be expressed. The result is a family of wines of uncompromising quality that are also approachable and beautifully balanced, perfect to savor on their own or enjoy with food. Our top pick was a 2020 Quince Pinot Noir that had only 4 barrels produced!
4. Flowers Vineyards & WInery
Flowers is a larger winery with an absolutely gorgeous set up which makes up for it's slightly more impersonal feel. They have a single principle - to make elegant and expressive wines that tell a story of place. The true Sonoma Coast.
You visit here for the scenery and the amazing chardonnays and pinots. You can see from our glasses above that the rosé was also going down fairly well.
5. The Barlow, Sebastopol (above)
Just a few miles south of our Inn, The Barlow proved a fantastic choice for an evening of food and drink entertainment. It's an open-air marketplace at the gateway to Sonoma County wine country and boasts four city blocks of storefronts and production facilities. Almost everything sold onsite is produced locally by 30+ makers and merchants – from craft spirits to farm-to-table meals to handmade apparel. And we will also admit to enjoying local brewery beer, hard seltzer and ice cream. Top Tip: Fern Bar (below) has a menu to die for if you want a casual night out but still with food quality and innovation that will make you smile. Ask Kendall about the gluten-free fried chicken!
If you're ready to soak up more than 24 hours in Russian River Valley we'd love to help you plan your trip. Click the button below to get started planning.
I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to be building a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.
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