I recently celebrated a milestone birthday (yay, 4-0!), and my two sisters and I decided to meet up on the West Coast for a little relaxation and fun. Good food, good wine, springtime weather – Sonoma seemed like the perfect destination. We departed our East Coast cities (Boston, Washington D.C., and West Palm Beach) on a Wednesday and spent several lovely days in wine country.
I love to travel, but hate the process. Airports, security lines, flying…all of these make me wish for teleportation. Until humans can travel that way, there’s in-flight wine and lots of podcasts. To be honest, my flights from Florida to New York then out to San Francisco were on-time and smooth. The three of us landed within an hour of each other, took an Uber car into the city, and checked into the Marriott Marquis for the night. We had a late dinner across the street at Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro and were soon tucked into bed after some planning for the following day.
Good morning, SFO! View from our hotel room. (Katherine Hart, 2015)
We awoke early and were downstairs by 8:00 AM to enjoy breakfast in the Concierge lounge. Eggs, bacon, fruit, coffee, tea – everything was delicious. We weren’t scheduled to pick up our rental car until after 10:00, so we strolled around the gorgeous Yerba Buena Gardens, just across the street from the hotel. It was a sunny, mild day; flowers bloomed, and we weren’t the only early morning strollers.
We departed the hotel and drove out of the city towards Sonoma. Traffic was light, and we reached Sebastopol within 1.5 hours. We had rented a cottage for our stay via Airbnb, but we couldn’t check in until later that afternoon. After a quick stop to grab some snacks. we continued our drive along the hilly highway to Bodega Bay.
View from Lucas Wharf Restaurant and Bar at Bodega Bay (Katherine Hart, 2015)
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Lucas Wharf, took a few pictures, and drove back towards Sebastopol. On our way into town, we stopped at our first winery of the weekend.
Joseph Phelps in Freestone (Katherine Hart, 2015)
At Joseph Phelps, we tasted several Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs and learned a little more about the Sonoma Coast wine region. This part of California is known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, as well as for some other varietals (throughout the weekend, we tasted some lovely Sauvignon Blancs, Cabernets, and even some Zinfandels and Malbecs). Most of the wineries we went to fell into the Russian River designation (called an AVA), and we learned about how the different regional microclimates influenced the production of the wines we tried.
Following our tasting, we headed back into town (one of us – not me! – was the designated driver at all times) and stopped at the Community Market to pick up food for the house. This is a wonderful independent grocery store carrying all sorts of local items: yogurt, bacon, fruit, cheese, and cider. There was also a Whole Foods in downtown Sebastopol, so plenty of opportunities to eat healthy.
Our little cottage was adorable! Two bedrooms, one bath, a fully-equipped kitchen, plenty of living space, and lovely gardens. Our host made us feel very welcome. Indeed, by Saturday, the place truly felt like home.
Living room in our cottage (Katherine Hart, 2015)
Christmas tree farm across the road (Katherine Hart, 2015)
Backyard garden (Katherine Hart, 2015)
We finished off our first full day in Sonoma with an excellent dinner at the Underwood, about a 10-minute walk from our house.
Everything, including spa day, is better with bacon! (Katherine Hart, 2015)
There’s something about the Sonoma coast, whether it’s the fresh air, the spring sunshine, the grassy hills, or the natural beauty in general, that makes you want to take care of you, to eat well, to walk a little more, to treat yourself much more nicely. To help with the pampering part of our weekend away, we booked massages and facials at Bliss Organic Day Spa in downtown Sebastopol. I enjoyed a Blueberry Bliss Anti-Aging Facial (I am 40, after all), while my sisters enjoyed massages. We began our treatment relaxing with a cup of organic peppermint tea, enjoyed an hour of relaxation, then met up again in the waiting area. Following our spa morning, we wandered the downtown area. We didn’t linger too long because we had wine tasting plans.
Vineyards at Merry Edwards winery (Katherine Hart, 2015)
To be continued in Part 2… (more wine tasting, ice cream sampling, and fine dining)