Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Weekend in Sonoma

We did a mini vacation last weekend in Sonoma County California, an area known for its wine, beer, and food. We were not disappointed. I was looking for a trip where I could get to the ocean, do a bike ride, and some hiking – after all, you have to balance all that eating and drinking with some exercise, right?
Redwood Tree
 The weather was perfect, warm and sunny (I’d heard September was a great time to visit). We rented bikes in Healdsburg and took a loop through wine country, taking it easy on the wine since we were on bikes. This was definitely the way to see the valley and from now on I will look for a place to rent a bike on any vacation we take. I felt pretty safe on the loop we took but many of the roads in the area are very windy, hilly and without a shoulder – not a place I want to ride.

We drove to the Armstrong Redwoods Park and did a short hike through the tallest trees in the world. Hiking in redwoods is much different than hiking in Colorado because it’s dark! Not so much sun reaches the ground in a redwood forest. We also did a short hike in Annadel Park which was much more open but lots of moss and lichen growing on the trees.

coast line at Jenner
An afternoon was spent at the beach near Jenner relaxing, walking and watching the seals. We drove the classic California Highway 1 to Bagoda Bay and stopped for fish tacos and a wine tasting. This area is a beautiful rocky area but with nice sandy beaches too.

I hadn’t realized that the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau defines various wine growing areas in the US calling them American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). These AVAs are distinguished by geographic features but also different growing climates and soils that define the types of grapes that grow best in that particular AVA. In Sonoma County there are 16 different AVAs and over 400 wineries. We didn’t try all of them, but of the one’s we tried we were not disappointed.

Sonoma County is also known for its Farm to Table fare (something we are well versed in coming from Boulder County). If you go make sure to seek out a restaurant that specializes in Farm to Table.
We also hit the big Micro Breweries; Lagunitas, Bear Republic, and Russian River for beer tastings. There doesn’t seem to be as many smaller microbreweries in Sonoma as there are in Colorado. In Longmont alone I believe there are 8 microbreweries. But we did find one small one; Cooperage, that had some good beers. 
Lagunitas Brewing Company for lunch

On the drive back to the airport we had unfortunately, just a few moments to spare and stopped at the Seed Bank Store which sells rare seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Wish we’d had more time to spend there, it was quite an interesting store.  Here is their website.

So there you have it - 5 days of wine, beer, food, beach, hiking, cycling and a few minutes resting at the pool. Oh, and one more interesting thing - we saw fennel growing along side the roads everywhere. Apparently fennel is considered an invasive weed in California! Wow, and I baby mine in the garden! You can read about fennel on BLM land here.

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