California Dreaming: A Wine Lover’s Weekend
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On such a winter’s day, the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma may be sleeping, but the wineries are rocking
A weekend in Napa Valley and Sonoma.
It’s winter now in wine country. The vines in Napa Valley and Sonoma County are bare, and the only activity happening outdoors is the pruning of the vines before bud break and the beginning of a new growing season.
Click here for the California Dreaming: A Wine Lover's Weekend Slideshow
Back East, I’m ready for a road trip: It’s an ideal time for a West Coast visit, as winemakers are busy in the cellars racking wines, cleaning barrels, and scheming about which lots will blend with what lots. We pack our bags and fly west to San Francisco, then drive the hour or so to Napa Valley, looking forward to wine and dining.
Try One New Wine Every Month in 2020
You are a 2020 visionary. You have set yourself up with a New Year’s resolution that can only be successful, because you found a way to underwrite a worthy cause—trying new things—with an object that easily reconciles it with your natural, hedonistic, self-indulgent tendencies. Wine. Let 2020 be the year that you drink AND you know things. About the things you drink.
Special Delivery The Best Wine Clubs to Try in 2020 Wine can be an unwieldy subject in that what begins with an innocent “I’d like to know more about that” premise can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole of archaic French inheritance laws. Much to my own chagrin, this does not tend to make one the life of the party. An easy way, however, to expand the palate of your mouth and your mind is a simple commitment to going beyond your garden variety varietals and giving new grapes or styles a chance to show you what they’re about. Once a month. Easy!
So in support of your 2020 thirst for wine—I mean, knowledge—here are 12 under-the-radar wines, with a handful of sommeliers chiming in on their merits, that deserve a go-around toward achieving New Year’s Resolution success this year.
January is made for Netflix-and-chill on constant repeat while a large pot of something savory simmers on the stovetop a bottle of a big red upended into the braise with a second bottle upended into your glass. You don’t need to go for broke on a pricey Bordeaux or over-blown Napa Cabernet, though Mourvèdre’s got you covered. It’s a lush, plush, bold red from Provence that doesn’t require all the fanfare. It just knows it’s good. Look for red selections labeled with the region called Bandol.
There are wines named for their grape there are wines named for their region, and then there are wines mysteriously named for a characteristic that the wine itself doesn’t necessarily possess. Enter: Muscadet. Made in western France from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet is a light, bright, and briny white that comes from soils littered with seashells that will have you dreaming of your next beach vacation, or the oysters you plan to dip into your lover’s throat, come Valentine’s Day. (Or both.)
Louis Metaireau Black Label Muscadet Sur Lie Loire, price and availability varies on Saucey
Oysters sold separately.
Pinotage is here to remind you that even when things don’t go as you expect them to, sometimes the outcome is still worth it. Or that children will always try at some point to defy their parents. Born of an experiment to create a fresh, light-bodied red wine that could thrive in South Africa’s climate, the result was a grape that possessed none of its desired attributes. A brooding, intense red with dark fruit, smoke, and herbs, try Pinotage on a March day that is more lion than lamb.
April: Grüner Veltliner
Just when you think winter will never end, the first bits of green start to push up from the earth, and Austria’s Grüner Veltliner is just the grape to mirror the moment. “Grüner Veltliner comes in a range of styles starting like spring with flowers and blossoms…” offers Daniel Ford, certified Sommelier and General Manager of Peppercorn Events . With bathing suit season around the corner, Grüner is also a specifically excellent pairing for vegetables. “Lighter styles are very refreshing with a light spritz and a delicate vegetal undertone of radish, asparagus, sweet herbs, and white pepper.” If I’m gonna have to eat salad all month long, it might as well be in the form of wine.
About Napa Valley
The beautiful rolling hills in Napa Valley are known for their vineyards. They have been making wine here since 1838! Many people visit Napa just for the wine. More recently, it has become a foodie destination too and there are plenty of other things to do in Napa besides wine tasting. No matter what time of year you visit the Napa Valley, you will find beautiful Mediterranean weather.
Napa Valley is located a short drive north of the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s slightly closer to Oakland’s airport, but you could fly into San Francisco, San Jose, or Sacramento as well. You can do a day trip to Napa, but there is plenty to do if you can stay longer.
You Could Get Paid $120,000 To Live In Wine Country for a Year
While most workplaces discourage employees from drinking on the job, an employer in California actually encourages the practice — and will even pay one lucky new hire $120,000 to do it.
Murphy-Goode Winery has posted a job opening that is every wine lover’s dream. It is currently looking for someone who will move to California’s Sonoma Wine Country and live there rent-free for an entire year. If you get picked, you’ll receive a compensation of $10,000 per month, plus 30 cases of wine.
“Looking for a change in your career and to pursue your passion? Do words like Cabernet, Rosé, and Chardonnay just roll off your tongue?” the company teased.
So, what will you be doing, exactly? For the first few months you’ll be exploring the entire winemaking process, trying to figure out which aspects of it you are passionate about. You’ll also be shadowing a winemaker, who will serve as your mentor. Afterward, they’ll then help you find your place in the wine business—whether it’s winery operations, social media, e-commerce, or what have you.
“We have a job that will instantaneously catapult you into the wine stratosphere,” the company added.
California Dreaming: A Wine Lover’s Weekend - Recipes
There is something inherently attractive about the Wine Country. Could be the wine. But maybe it’s also the endless views of rolling vineyards, the slow pace, the mild summer nights, and the excellent food. Something about the Wine Country makes you want to slow down and escape the city.
We have many favorites, but recently we find ourselves drawn to the little town of Yountville.
Each time we are in need of delicious food and world-class wine, we hit the road to Yountville. Walkable from end to end in about 15 minutes, the Main Street is dotted with charming restaurants, inviting tasting rooms and local shops. Our contributor Lauren went on a 24 hours trip to Yountville and came back rested and relaxed, and according to her, a little bit too full from all of the good food. Here is her Yountville itinerary.
With so many boutique hotels popping up in wine country, it’s hard to pick just one. For me, the Hotel Yountville has always been my go-to because of their superb hospitality, the perfect balance of modern and warmth and their crave-worthy breakfast. They just did a remodel, and I was lucky to get a preview. It is a beautiful property that exudes wine country coziness. One of my favorite things to do is to slip on a bathsuit, wrap up in a robe and soak in their hot tub which conveniently is next to a fireplace with a view of Pinterest-worthy outdoor dining space. Speaking of fireplaces, I love that they are located throughout the property and, most importantly, in their rooms. Nothing beats watching the glowing flicker of a fireplace from your cozy king bed . From luxury bedding to mini bar stocked with complimentary organic fruit and nut mix, granola squares, caramel macchiato almonds and water they think of every detail to make your stay perfect. It’s almost hard to leave the comforts of room to head out to explore.
If you do leave the room, there are plenty of great dining options in the city of Yountville — besides the French Laundry.
As I mentioned above, the breakfast at the hotel is one to remember. My favorite dish: simple eggs and toast, but the quality of ingredients make it a standout. Pro tip: order an English muffin instead of toast. They get their English muffins from famed Model Bakery. Also, they put together a juicy fruit plate with local in-season fruit. If you are looking for something a bit faster and still want to get your English muffin fix, Model Bakery just opened up a cute mini-shop downtown. Grab a pack of english muffins to bring home with you and a quick coffee on-the-go.
Bistro Jeanty is my all time favorite lunch spot. This casual French bistro has that laid back feel that might lead to you munching on fries and sipping rose with a friend all afternoon. My menu highlight is their tomato soup which is served with a drool-worthy topper of pastry dough. The flaky top combined with the creamy tomato soup is worth driving up to Yountville for alone. If you are in the mood for a more casual lunch, stop by Atelier by JCB for a carefully curated selection of picnic must-haves including cheese and meats.
Walking to dinner is easy when you are staying in Yountville because nothing is more than a 15-minute walk from the hotel. We visited the Hotel Yountville’s sister hotel, the Bardessono to dine at their restaurant Lucy. This restaurant takes farm-to-table to a whole new level by having their own farm behind the restaurant. From lemon trees to broccoli and olives, you name it they grow it. We enjoyed cocktails which included herbs from their garden to make them truly unique. The food was top notch. Some of the standouts were the caesar salad with brioche rings and the salmon with parsnip puree and microgreens. A few other Yountville favorites are Redd Wood for best pizza and pasta, Ad Hoc for an adventuresome 4-course meal, or Bouchon for classic French fare.
There are a few fun stops along your stroll in Yountville. Just because you didn’t get the reservation for French Laundry doesn’t mean you can’t visit their gardens. Their gardens are massive and even include chickens and bees. It’s fun to stop by and see what is in season. I would also recommend taking a peek inside the Silver Trident Winery tasting room for their Ralph Lauren-decorated interiors. Lastly, Bouchon Bakery is also always a good stop for a quick macaroon snack but be prepared to wait a bit in the line (it’s worth it).
One of my favorite stops on our quick trip was the newly-opened Ashes and Diamonds Winery. Upon pulling into the parking lot, it is clear that this is a winery unlike any other. The winery is owned by ex-music exec Kashy Khaledi and designed by famed LA-architect Barbara Bestor. When you walk in the large yellow pivoting door you are transported to a mid-century perfection–imagine a tasting room set in Palm Springs in the 50s. It’s also not only about the decor their wines are unique and delicious. They decided to produce traditional-style wine which means low-alcohol and tannins that is higher in acidity. This makes for a very drinkable wine that pairs perfectly with food. We did the tasting of four wines, and the standout for me was the Vin de Table. As a Cab Franc lover, I was really into all of their wines because they use the grape in nearly all of their wines.
We were already shemming our next trip up there for their food and wine pairing before we finished the last sip.
All of these stops are quite a bit to pack into a quick 24 hour trip to Yountville, but the great news is that is so close by if you live in the Bay Area. It is the perfect town to calm down in after a long work week and enjoy some of the best food and wine in the Napa Valley.
I have already planned my next visit.
Californians Already Dreaming of Legalized Marijuana-Infused &lsquoGreen Wine&rsquo
Election Day is now exactly four weeks away, and while most of the nation is deep in the throes of Clinton versus Trump, plenty of pot-loving Californians have an even bigger ballot concern on their minds. On Tuesday, November 8, residents of the Golden State will also vote on Proposition 64 – known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – which could add the US’s most populous state to the growing number of places that allow legal recreational marijuana.
As the Los Angeles Times recently wrote, legalized pot could even have interesting ramifications for another huge (and intoxicating) California industry: wine. Marijuana-infused wine, also known as “green wine” (but legally described as a “tincture”), has been around in “its modern inception” since at least the 1970s, but it’s only moved out of its “relative secrecy” in recent years thanks to California’s medical marijuana dispensary system. According to the Times, the first of California’s 𠇌ommercially available pot-infused wines” has been Canna Vine, described as 𠇊 high-end marijuana product that combines organically grown marijuana and biodynamically farmed grapes, made with the care and meticulousness of Opus One.” The price isn’t far off from Opus One either: 𠇊nywhere from $120 to $400 a half-bottle.”
With massive price tags like that, green wine could prove to be extremely lucrative for open-minded wineries if Proposition 64 passes (and the polls seem to be pointing that way). Louisa Sawyer-Lindquist of Verdad Wines who supplies the juice for Canna Vine is already pondering that future. “I have no idea what the market will be like for it, but whatever I make I want to be safe, made from pure ingredients and, hopefully, delicious,” she was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Lisa Molyneux, the Santa Cruz dispensary owner who actually makes the wines, admits that mixing alcohol and marijuana could present additional legal hurdles but is already talking to her lawyers about what the future may hold.
Of course, all this depends on what happens in November, but maybe consider waiting a month before booking either your wine tasting vacation or your marijuana tourism trip. Pretty soon, you might be able to do both in one weekend.
California Dreaming: A Wine Lover’s Weekend - Recipes
California Dreaming is the perfect spot to enjoy summertime in Broken Bow! California vibes, Oklahoma comfort. This modern A-frame cabin sits on 3 acres, surrounded by pines & hardwoods. Designer finishes make the home as comfortable as it is cool. Two decks & balcony totaling 1000+ sq ft create seamless indoor-outdoor living.
Dog friendly-MUST notify host (2 dog max, 30 lb., $50 fee/dog)
California Dreaming is managed by The Cabin Collection, an exclusive collection of modern cabins in Broken Bow.
Our “Worry-Free” Promise: You will see a small “Management Fee” when you complete your booking, but this can be misleading because it DOES NOT go to The Cabin Collection management. This goes directly toward insurance to cover your stay, which protects you for up to $10,000 in content damage and $100,000 in structural damage of the cabin. Minor or major accidental damage during your stay? No worries! Just let us know and we’ll take care of the entire claims process so that you don’t have to think about it for a single second. When you check out, you’ll be left with only happy vacation memories, not a damage deposit battle. Damage deposits and surprise credit card authorizations are nowhere to be found when you stay with The Cabin Collection - and that’s our worry-free promise to you.
California Dreaming is the dreamiest place to stay in Broken Bow! It's "off the beaten path" of a typical Broken Bow experience. Guests will enjoy being surrounded by nature, while still only a quick drive away from Broken Bow Lake, restaurants, and other area attractions.
27 ft floor-to-ceiling window view opens to 900 sq ft western deck, Roche Bobois sectional, 2 conversation pits surrounding fireplace + TV, covered northern deck features fireplace + Nordic hot tub, view of rock + crystal garden that leads to fire pit nestled in the woods.
Hard marble counters + waterfall island, Bertazzoni gas range, Fisher & Paykel refrigerator, handmade dishware pottery by Your House or Mine, vintage silverware + Pfaltzgraff green drop dinnerware, stocked with cooking necessities.
Master Suites (2): king beds, closets, full ensuite bathrooms with sleek walk-in showers + vintage soaking tubs. Upstairs Loft Bedroom: 2 sets of custom made bunk beds, plus 1 bunk in the loft space (bunks sleep 6 total), full bathroom. All 3 bathrooms styled with handmade geometric concrete tile.
Spiral staircase leads to airy loft, gathering space around TV, extra flex space, bunk room, full bathroom, southern-facing balcony with Instagram-worthy hanging hammock chairs.
Decks total 1000+ sq ft of treetop level views. West Deck: opens to living room, fire table with lava rocks, chaise loungers, long antique table (seats 10), gas grill, open view to starry skies. North Deck (covered): gas fireplace, Nordic hot tub, breakfast table, view of rock + crystal garden. South Balcony: intimate seating for 2, perfect sunrise views. Fire Pit: pathway leads from north deck, surrounded by trees in the woods.
California Dreaming has exterior cameras that are monitored for security purposes. The indoor fireplace is turned off and will not be available for guest use from June 1-October 1.
Don’t get excited. You aren’t going anywhere yet. But sometime this summer, perhaps, you’ll be able to get in that car of yours and ride somewhere farther than Ralph’s on Lake Avenue.
When you do, you might consider these drives, from our friends at Visit California. This route begins in the north, which means you’re gonna have to drive up there.
Let’s call your drive up your Day One, and take it from there, shall we ?
- Day 2: Begin in surf town Santa Cruz to catch some waves or cruise near the scenic coastline. Nearby is the village of Aptos, perfect for an active day of hiking and biking through The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park or lounging on Sunset State Beach . End the day closer to Monterey, in Moss Landing , a busy fishing harbor surrounded by homespun art galleries and seafood restaurants. This is California’s most reliable place to spot sea otters in their natural habitats.
- Day 3: Begin to drive inland towards Pinnacle National Park, which attracts rock climbers, hikers, birders, and wildflower fans. On the way, stop for a snack at Casa De Fruta , a cherry stand that has attracted road trippers since 1908. Once you’ve made it to the park, try climbing around the High Peaks, a maze-like cluster of boulders, pinnacles, and spires. After an adventurous morning, the next road trip must-stop for foodies is Quesadilla Gorilla in Visalia.
- Then, drive on to Sequoia National Park, staring at the Ash Mountain entrance . Located in the small town of Three Rivers, this offers a quick-and-curvy route to the massive sequoias of Giant Forest. Sequoia National Park is best known for its gargantuan trees, including General Sherman , the world’s largest tree.
- Day 4: Coming from the west, Yosemite National Park unfolds with high-country beauty, a land of granite crags and alpine meadows with well marked trails and endless scenery. Check off some of the world’s tallest waterfalls from your bucket list while you’re here, including Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Falls, and Ribbon Falls. End your Yosemite day in Tuolumne Meadows, a wide, grassy expanse bounded by high granite domes and peaks, perfect for scenic hiking.
Day 5: Next stop for incredible views is Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve . Explore Lee Vining Creek riparian (that means “river”) habitat, blanketed with obsidian and pumice (those are rocks) , or walk the South Tufa Area for close-up views of the tufa towers. Head on your way to Emerald Bay for an oasis of shimmering greens, turquoise and blues.
California Dreaming: A Wine Lover’s Weekend - Recipes
If California Dreaming would be a winery, it would be the Scribe Winery in Sonoma. Nestled into the picturesque hills of Sonoma County, Scribe Winery combines a love for exceptional wines and California eclectic style.
Head out to the restored Hacienda’s well-appointed patio or grab a blanket and find a soft spot on the grass and enjoy their fresh , local California cuisine paired with their delicious wine. Managed by fourth-generation farmers, brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani focus on creating a harmonious relationship between the vineyard and the surrounding ecosystem. The wine reflects the distinct terrain of their site-specific vintages and aims to capture a sense of time and place.
Scribe is known for their Sylvaners (a varietal planted by the original German owners in the 1850s and re-introduced to the property in 2008), Rieslings and skin-fermented Chardonnays. They also offer Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. With the increasing demand for rose, Scribe launched Una Lou Rose, which comes in a 375ml can, in 2017. This year, they’re offering a subscription service, so you’ll never run out. Packs of four cans ($40) ship free through October.
Not only is Scribe known for their wines, but also for the beautifully restored interiors of the 100-year-old Hacienda.
Cozy neutrals, cool sea tones, warm pastels and unfinished details embrace relaxation and invite you to stay awhile. The Mission Revival-style building creates an intimate, plant-filled respite from the sun, while embracing the history of the building. Events and tastings feel intimate—like family gatherings or a step back in time.
Throughout the Hacienda, cracks in the plaster are celebrated, dents in the ceilings were left as-is, and the whole place feels comfortably lived in and exudes a distinct sense of California Cool. The grounds and the Hacienda embody a rich, layered, easy-going vibe, while taking advantage of the expansive Sonoma Valley views. Towering palms line the drive, and the modern naturalist theme is continued through an expansive indoor plant collection, native and drought tolerant landscaping, and a bountiful vegetable garden.
Join the Scribe Vinticultural Society, a modern incarnation of the wine club established by the estate’s founder, for discounted bottle pricing, complimentary tastings and invites to exclusive winery events, like their regularly hosts cookbook launches.
The Hacienda, and Scribe’s 2017 harvest, were saved from the devastation wrought by last fall’s wine country fires. While the fires were the most devastating in California history, Sonoma County is rebuilding. Visiting the region is the best way to support local businesses and families recovering from the fires.
Scribe offers tastings by reservation only.
2100 Denmark St, Sonoma, CA 95476
California Dreaming: A Wine Lover’s Weekend - Recipes
California Dreaming: Exclusive Offer 40% Off
Enjoy 40% off your stay at Kenwood Inn & Spa stays November 14, 2021 through March 12, 2022
When it comes to scenic diversity, there's no better place to cruise than California. Now's the time to get outside and explore. Reserve our California Dreaming package and enjoy 40% off when you book direct.
- 40% discount off our Room Rate
- A well-appointed guestroom of your choice
- Signature breakfast for two
- Wine + cheese mini-picnic
- Freshly baked cookies
- Personalized concierge assistance
- Complimentary parking & WiFi
Valid select dates - November 14, 2021 through March 12, 2022
From $235: Garden King
From $285: Kenwood King (ADA)
From $335: Grand King
From $425: Grand View King
From $625: Sonoma Suite & Tuscany Suite
&lsquoCalifornia Dreaming&rsquo is available on select days November 14, 2021, through March 12, 2022. Offer may exclude certain room types and blackout dates may apply. 40% discount is calculated from our published Room Rate, which varies. The &lsquofrom rate&rsquo represents the discounted rate off our published Room Rate for the least expensive room during the lowest demand and least occupied dates. Taxes and fees are additional. Offer must be booked on this site or by calling the hotel, and may not be combined with other discounts. Offer not applicable on published rates found on third-party booking sites.