We spent last weekend in Sonoma with my parents. Sonoma is the neighbouring valley to Napa, with just as many vineyards but slightly nicer views and fewer tourists. We stayed just outside Healdsburg, a small town with a little plaza in the center which I’m sure triples or quadruples in population on weekends. Arriving Friday night, we spent Saturday wine tasting and driving around the various vineyards, and then meandered back to the Peninsula on Sunday (where it was foggy).

The countryside around there is really beautiful – a lot like the wine growing regions in the south of France or in Italy, but greener. There is a winery about every 20 yards and most of them do tastings, so you can just drop in and taste their wines (although some charge a tasting fee which is refunded if you buy a bottle).

We decided to take a tour of one of the larger wineries in the Dry Creek area, Ferrari-Carano. It is owned by a couple from Reno who made their money in property and casinos, and created a winery in Sonoma. They have built a beautiful house and enormous winery with gardens (although it all betrays Bellagio-esque touches – fountains, faux-italian villas). The tour was very good, though – the tour guide really knew her stuff. After that, we had to taste some of their wines. They were good, but none were remarkable. One unusual wine was their Black Muscat, which I’d never tasted before. It’s a dessert wine that tastes of cherries and chocolate – a bit like a cross between a red wine and muscat. They served it at the winery with chocolate-coated, wine-soaked dried cherries – mmmmm. So we bought a couple of bottles of that 🙂

That evening we ate at Dry Creek Kitchen, a restaurant in Healdsburg. Very unusual dishes, included a soft-boiled egg with asparagus puree injected into it. All very good though.

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