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Trip Report The best 5 day wine-trip, party of 9, Northern Sonoma County Area

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I’m just going to state the nitty-gritty to keep this post short. Arrival day, everyone in the party flew into the Oakland airport with an AM arrival time and then we loaded into a 15 passenger van that was rented from Avis. First stop was at Urban Legends Wines just 10 minutes from the airport. The next stop was at a large club warehouse for supplies (all breakfasts were made at the house we rented in Cloverdale, CA.). Then we stopped at a Whole Foods in San Rafael, CA. for the snacks we ate each evening while enjoying wines from the day on the porch and in the pool/hot tub that was situated in the backyard. Shortly after the two supply stops we made it to the house with ample time remaining to settle-in and familiarize ourselves with the house before heading to dinner reservations in nearby Healdsburg. We topped the evening off with beers at a brewpub walking distance from the house. First tasting day, day one, we were picked up by Jonathan in his Wine-A-Bay-Go at the house around 9:30am and headed out to our first winery appointment. I’ve mapped all this out in google maps with attached details of who to call or email at the winery to make the appointments and the layout of days and times. The links to the maps are below. Please use my planning to maximize a trip for you and your friends. I was focusing on the wineries that are small, off the beaten path, or new-up-and-coming. There are 4 wineries that I would not skip, Pech Merle, Ellipsis, Mary Elke, and Sbragia. We only did two days with the help of Jonathan and his Wine-A-Bay-Go. The other days we drove ourselves around because I choose to taste and spit. It was all worth it. I found that Jonathan, the wine-a-bay-go driver was a wealth of knowledge and wished I would have used his ability to get tastings at locations that were less likely to make appointments otherwise. The maps (links on bottom of post) contain information in the list of items on the left side.I’ve been to the Healdsburg area 4 times before and for this trip I focused on RRV, green valley and Anderson Valley for Pinot Noirs and the dry creek area for Zinfandels(not white zin) and Cabs. My source was my own research, focusing on the areas I had been before and the wineries I had never seen in those areas. Then I did follow-up research looking for posts or reviews. Really some of the wineries were so elusive on information I had to visit to see if they were really that elusive. My favorite wines are Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel, but I enjoy them all.


Day-1 Russian River Valley, Green Valley sub appellation.
Iron Horse Vineyards (bubbles)
###Cahill Wines & Ports (Atascadero wines were poured here as well, Atascadero were best of the two)
###Scherrer Winery (small family operated, the grandfather was adorable)
Claypool Cellars (just fun)
ACE Hard Cider (Fridays only) Yes, Hard Cider!
###Taft Street (lack luster)
***Woodenhead Wines (my favorite of the day)

Day-2 Anderson Valley (need light days)
Forsight wines
***Mary Elke Vineyards (favorite of the day)(favorite Pinot Noir of the entire trip)
Zina Hyde Cunningham
Valdez Family Vineyards (back in Cloverdale)(fantastic wines, industrial setting)

Day-3 Lower Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys
Hawkes (great Chardonnay)
###Sryker Sonoma Winery(the turnoff was we were asked to buy two bottles to waive the fee)
***Pech Merle (favorite of the entire trip)(I asked to meet them at the old oak tree and we had a picnic)
###Chateau Diana(hard to follow Pech Merle)
Zichichi Family Vineyards(Barrel tasting only, you can buy futures)
Sbragia Family Vineyards( the best Cabernet Sauvignon of the entire trip)

Day-4 (mostly shopping in Healsburg)
***Ellipsis Wines (Small, New, Cute startup winery, a must see)
MacPhail Family Wines

### Now knowing what was there I could have skipped them and not feel too bad
*** Must go


Day0
http://goo.gl/maps/259oU

Day1
http://goo.gl/maps/s4L4Z

Day2
http://goo.gl/maps/4yAc7

Day3
http://goo.gl/maps/J5XSW

Day4
http://goo.gl/maps/wbgNp

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