Grapes of Wrath: Wine Tasting In Sonoma County

Relocation Reality Show Part 6

We’re winding our way south, with wine tasting through Sonoma wine country on today’s agenda. I require an injection of style after yesterday’s freaky jaunt through the NorCal woods!

Here’s our plan of attack:

then check into a fabulous hotel!

J. Rickards for Second Breakfast

Starting the day with a smile!

We leave Ukiah Best Western after filling up on the included breakfast, and arrive at J. Rickards Winery. It’s Monday morning, and temperatures are already soaring. But we have the cool tasting room to ourselves, always the best way to get great service. One-on-one attention affords the steward an opportunity to educate you.

Front of J. Rickards Winery tasting room.

At J. Rickards, reservations are required on weekends. But for best service, make reservations on weekdays too. Tasting is $20 per person, but they waive the fee if we either join the wine club or purchase two or more bottles. Great, we’re here to shop too! [October 2022 update: I’m still holding a bottle in my collection of their Los Ninos Perdidos red dessert wine!]

The J. Rickards Winery wine cellar is a bunker so effective at keeping a constant temperature that other wineries rent barrel space!

The lady guiding our wine tasting is friendly and informative. She teaches us about the history of this family winery, ways to more fully open the wine, and offers us a tour of the barrel room.

The grounds at J. Rickards are lovely, including a field of tall, deep purple flowers that look like hops. We are feeling the relaxation.

Trattore Farms for Elevenses

On to Trattore Farms in Geyserville. It’s off the main highway, and finding it is a bit of an issue. We completely expect to do an olive oil tasting, but we are informed that they don’t really do that. (Even though it says they do on the web site.) They strongly suggest a wine tasting. Mmmm, okay.

We’re here for the olive oil! Or so we thought.

They have a lovely tasting room with a sweeping view of the valley below. We strike up a conversation with a lady familiar with our soon-to-be new home town. She lists all her favorite restaurants in Encinitas. I try to get her name but she was not forthcoming with that. We’ll just call her Miss Bentley, because that is the only other car in the parking lot.

Oh no, we are about to be late for our lunch reservations at Coppola! We quickly select some olive oils and roll. My Encinitas kitchen will begin with a four pack of Rosemary, Garlic, Jalapeno, and Spanish Table olive oils.

Luncheon at Rustic

We make it just in the nick of time to Francis Ford Coppola Winery for lunch. Yes, this time we’re actually having food! And this place is huge!

Coppola Winery is HUGE! By this point, we were more focused on food than photos though.

Besides lunch and wine tastings, try renting a poolside cabin and lounging by the pool for the day, or visit the Movie Gallery to view movie memorabilia, and there is a ton more.

This snapshot captures the silverware and general feel at the table at Rustic.
Andy is ready after lunch!

It’s way too hot to eat on patio, so we get an air conditioned seat with a view inside. We take our time relaxing and enjoying deep fried zucchini, Spaghetti Pomodoro, Rigatoni and Meatballs… and of course we each get a glass of Coppola Pinot Noir.

Everything is wonderful after the crazy day on the road yesterday. We are feeling spoiled!

Afternoon Tea at Foppiano

Borrowed this photo from the Foppiano website.
By this point, we weren’t shooting good photos!

We’re working our way down the list we planned, but realizing that it was a bit ambitious. Not quite ready to throw in the towel, we finally find our way to Foppiano Vineyards and Winery. Established in 1896, this lovely country winery has a relaxed, folksy vibe.

But wine tasting in 95° weather is very different from the cool Willamette Valley. This is where I went flop. I tapped out halfway through my flight.

Kendall Jackson will definitely have to wait for another trip. I think we will also be revisiting Foppiano as well, if only to finish a flight!

Wiltin’ at the Hilton

We decide our home for the night will be the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country. It was beautiful [reduced to ashes by a wildfire just three weeks later] and only $165 for the night. These are fancy digs! But we are feeling something less-than-fancy.

Please forgive the lack of photos from this point forward. As you read, perhaps you’ll understand — and even appreciate — why. And some things are best left unpreserved in pixels.

I am woozy. My carefully-planned-out wardrobe for the trip is reduced to a tangle of fabric in a box. My night necessities bag is a plastic laundry bag acquired way back at Extended Stay days ago. Now it has holes in it, and my straightening iron cord has fallen out and is dragging behind me like a sad tail as we waddle to our room. Decidedly un-fancy, but I couldn’t care less.

Our room is large with two queen beds, a big tiled bathroom, and bottles of red and white wine to partake of. No thank you!

Andy is excited to use the hot tub by the pool. I relent to this idea. Maybe a hot tubbing will be good after all these hours on the road.

We are not alone; another couple is there too. The husband, a real talker, goes on telling us everything we could want to know about opening family-style chain restaurants. He takes a pause only to grab a wine bottle, rip the cork out with his teeth, and takes a big swig.

Grief and Relief

At this point I really start feeling icky. Is it the heat, hot tub, hot flashes, or wine? I don’t know.

Back in our room, Andy is still feeling like Mr. Energy, and wants to check out the on-site restaurant. Dude, I can’t. He settles for a room service club sandwich. All I want is a cold iced tea.

When room service arrives, I take a sip or two of my tea, Andy tucks into his dinner, and oh no!! It hits!

Trigger warning: ungirly talk dead ahead! I dash to the bathroom and grab the trash can. Oh wow, how much rigatoni did I eat?!! It gets better! My “girls don’t poop” myth is now shattered as six days of not pooping comes to a dramatic end. All while my new hubby is on the other side of the wall, attempting to munch his club sandwich!

Meanwhile, Andy is facing his own gastrointestinal gremlins. Turns out that substituting wine for meals, neglecting drinking water, all in scorching heat, is less than optimal.

But I do feel better now! I tie off the trash bag full of rigatoni barf and shove it discretely under the sink.(Oh, those poor maids!) I attempt to maintain a straight face as I exit the bathroom.

Sometime in the wee hours of the night, Andy gets up to wage his own private 45-minute war in the bathroom. I giggle and go back to sleep.