Russian River is basically our favorite place on the planet. Pair that with our favorite travel buddies and this is our perfect annual trip. John and Mal picked us up from the airport and we made our first stop at Boon Fly Cafe. We had yummy cocktails, delicious fish tacos, BLTs, chilaquiles and a short rib flatbread. YUM!
We drove to Artesa winery for a brief tasting and also made a pit stop to grab some Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing before we stopped in a our favorite place - Taft Street! Jason and I are wine club members, so the tasting was free. They opened EVERY bottle of wine they had and let us try them all. We grabbed 4 bottles, stocked up on groceries and then headed to our home for the next few days. Last year, we stayed in a cute little town called Monte Rio and this year, we stayed in Guerneville at a place called Big Bertha. We used the hot tub that evening and relaxed with some great grilling and wine!
The next morning, we drove over to Schramsberg Winery for our cave tasting. They have over 3 MILLION bottles of wine down there! We tasted 4 sparkling wines and one still red, all while exploring the caves. This is one of my favorite sparkling wines - so glad we can get most of these back in Texas.
After this, we drove to Gott's Roadside in St. Helena for some delicious burgers and fries. The outside area was very cute and we enjoyed the wonderful weather!
Moving north into the Alexander Valley, we stopped at an old favorite, Hawkes. On our first group trip back in 2013 (!!!), we went to the location in Sonoma Square and really loved it. The wine was spectacular and John and Mal even signed up for the wine club.
We got a recommendation from people inside, so for our next stop, we went to a brand-new tasting room called Zialena. They had been producing grapes for a long time, but only recently did they start bottling under their own label. The tasting room had only been open for 6 months! Wow, this was an unexpected find, but might have been some of the best wine we had on the entire trip.
We made our way back to Guerneville and stopped in a Equality Vines for a quick (yet delicious and super fun) tasting before we popped over the street for Seaside Metal's Happy Hour. The menu was small, but very satisfying and Jason and I agreed that the seafood chowder is on the of best things we've ever eaten.
After dinner, we walked next door to grab ice cream from Nimble and Finns. The location was inside of an old bank and the ice cream choices were so ridiculous. I mean, coriander and lavender & bourbon chocolate pretzel? They were all FANTASTIC though!
The next morning, the guys went to golf at Northwood Golf Club and Mal and I went to get massages and Boon Hotel & Spa. We did this exact morning last trip and loved it so much, we had to recreate it! We had lunch at Big Bottom Market and then went to a quick (and disappointing) wine tasting at Jigger.
The real treat was up next though - we had reservations at Iron Horse. Even better, since it was Sunday, Oyster Girls were onsite grilling up some delicious oysters! Sparkling wine is my favorite - but add in oysters with a spot under an umbrella enjoying the amazing view and weather? Pretty perfect afternoon!
That evening, we set to work on drinking all of the wine we had purchased throughout the trip. (We made a good dent, but also had to bring some home to enjoy and reminisce later!) John also grilled for us again - my favorite was the delicious grilled duck. We made s'mores and had some more hot tub time!
We might have had a BIT too much fun though because we decided to skip our last wine tasting at Domaine Carneros in favor of a leisurely breakfast at Fremont Diner. After that, we headed back home.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip with wonderful friends. We'll be back!
Up Next: We're heading to Barcelona over Thanksgiving. Thanks to credit cards, we're staying at a REALLY amazing hotel as well - can't wait!