Monday, October 16, 2006

Picnicking Along the Russian River Wine Rd. - Part II

Now that you have your picnic supplies, it's time to find a nice spot to enjoy your lunch.

In the Alexander Valley, two wineries have nice picnic areas. Field Stone Winery, at the southern end of the Valley (10075 Hwy. 128), has picnic tables under the trees near the winery. This shaded area provides a perfect respite to lunch with one of Field Stone's wines. More information on Field Stone is available in my June 21, 2006 post.

In the northern half of the Alexander Valley sits Stryker Sonoma (5110 Hwy. 128). This winery is best known for small lots of Bordeaux varietals and Zinfandel. The friendly tasting room staff will help you find the perfect wine to accompany your lunch. The picnic tables are just outside of the beautiful tasting room. Some tables are partially shaded, while others receive direct sunlight. So this may not be the best spot on the hottest of days. The rest of the year, you will enjoy your view of the nearby vineyards while eating your lunch and drinking a Stryker wine. Stryker is very close to the Jim Town Store (mentioned in my last post), where you can purchase your picnic supplies.

Two of my favorite picnic spots are both in the Dry Creek Valley - Lambert Bridge Winery and Passalacqua Winery. Both of these wineries have lovely picnic areas overlooking their gardens and the surrounding vineyards. Picnic tables are situated so you can sit in the sun or shade. I previously wrote about Passalacqua in my May 30, 2006. So you can check this post out for more details on this small winery.

Lambert Bridge is located at 4085 W. Dry Creek Road and sells its wine exclusively from the winery. If you want to taste Lambert Bridge's Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay, and other varietals, you will have to visit. If you visit on a weekend, I recommend tasting the reserve wines in the barrel room.

In the Russian River Valley, I recommend picnicking at either Arista Winery or Hop Kiln Winery. Arista has one of the most beautiful gardens in all of wine country. While tasting Arista's Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, you can sit in a formal Japanese garden and enjoy your lunch. The sound of the nearby waterfall only adds to the tranquility. Arista is located at 7015 Westside Road.

Hop Kiln Winery is, not surprisingly, located in an old hop kiln. Prior to Prohibition, hops were widely grown in both Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. At Hop Kiln you can have a lovely picnic beside the duck pond or in the old fig garden. Hop Kiln is located at 6050 Westside Road.

If you would like to take a private, custom wine country tour that includes a picnic at one of these lovely wineries, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Picnicking Along the Russian River Wine Rd. - Part I

Like my recent posts on the Napa Valley, I'll divide my recommendations for the Healdsburg area into two parts. This posting will feature places to pick up picnic supplies.

The town of Healdsburg is where the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys meet. On the southeast corner of the plaza (Matheson and Center Streets) is a branch of the Oakville Grocery, which I wrote about in the first part of my Napa picnicking post. Like the original in Oakville, this outlet is an excellent place to buy cheeses, deli meats, sandwiches, and salads.

In the Alexander Valley, the Jimtown Store, has wonderful sandwiches that you can either eat at picnic tables in the back of the store or take with you to one of the wineries. The store is located on Route 128, just west of the intersection with Pine Flat Road.

Not as upscale at the Jimtown Store is the Dry Creek General Store at the intersection of Dry Creek and Lambert Bridge Roads. Here you can pick up good sandwiches to eat at the picnic tables out front or take with you to your next winery stop.

Unfortunately, the Russian River Valley does not have a place in the heart of the wine region to pick up supplies. If you are heading that way, you may want to stop at the Whole Foods Market at 6910 McKinley Street in Sebastopol to get your food before you head further north.

In the next post I will recommend some wineries with beautiful picnic areas. Meanwhile, if you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes a picnic in the Healdsburg area, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.