Calistoga-Occidental-Sausalito trip report

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Nov 9th, 2006, 05:35 AM
  #1
syd
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Calistoga-Occidental-Sausalito trip report

Thanks to all for the information received on this board when planning our trip. Hopefully the information I include here will be helpful for someone else in the future.

Visiting wine country in early November is simply beautiful. We had perfect weather: sunny, upper 60's - low 70's during the day and cool at night. The colors of the vineyards were amazing.

SFO airport/rental car: This was really the only negative experience of our trip. Renting a car from Dollar was almost laughable if it wasn't so frustrating. Everyone waited way too long for their vehicles, and the place was weirdly inefficient. We arrived at SFO around 11:30 am on a Friday, hit the road about 1:30 pm and drove 101 north through alot of city traffic. In the future to visit wine country, I'd consider flying into Sacramento and paying the extra to rent from Hertz.

Lodging: We had some specific criteria when making lodging choices: to be able to walk into town for dinner and shopping; fireplaces in the rooms; a deck or porch. We spent more than we usually do, around $300/night, but were glad we did. The amenities at each place were very nice and the staff helpful and pleasant.

Cottage Grove Inn - Calistoga. Charming individual cottages, each decorated differently. We stayed in the Gardeners cottage. Very tastefully decorated, comfortable bed and chairs near the fireplace. They really did think of lots of nice touches to make our stay great. The wine and cheese evening reception was very good.

Inn at Occidental - Occidental. We stayed in the Cirque de Sonoma room. Bright, spacious, with a very lovely deck covered with flowering vines. The inn is set on a hillside. We enjoyed seeing deer and birds in the morning. The skies and full moon were beautiful to watch from our deck. Great breakfast and also a nice wine/cheese reception.

Inn Above Tides - Sausalito. We stayed in a queen deluxe room, and I have no complaints about room size as was noted in other reviews. The views from our deck were unbelievable. A great place to spend the night, and awaken in the morning. Another nice wine/cheese reception and good continental breakfast delivered to our room in the morning. The staff was very pleasant and professional.


Restaurants:

The Girl and the Fig - Sonoma for lunch. Excellent polenta with mushrooms and goat cheese; and delicious mussels. Highly recommended.

Checkers - Calistoga for a pizza which was good.

Bistro des Copains - Occidental. This was my favorite restaurant. Perfectly seared scallops.

Poggio's - Sausalito. Excellent Italian food, good service and upscale casual atmosphere.


Wineries:

Cline - very friendly service, good estate zins.
Summers - lots of fun playing bocce here.
Iron Horse - good blanc de blanc.
Taft Street - friendly atmosphere, good and reasonably priced pinots.
Lynmar - by far the best wine tasting experience I could ever imagine. Fabulous facility. We sat on couches, tasted each wine from a different Riedel glass. Excellent tasting notes and information from the staff. I learned more here about wine than anywhere else. Also most importantly, some of the best pinot noir ever. I wish we would have had a picnic here.

A word about travelling home with wine. The very nice people at Taft Street sold us a great box with inserts for wine bottles (I think it cost about $4). Since we wanted to bring a bottle from each winery home, we didn't want to ship directly from the wineries. We checked the box at the airport it appears to have travelled well.

Great sights along the way:

Driving Calistoga Rd-Petrified Forest roads when we first arrived into Calistoga was beautiful.

Driving from Calistoga to Occidental. We took 128 into Healdsburg, then Westside Rd onto River Rd to the coast and drove down highway 1 to Bodega. An amazing afternoon. We didn't stop at wineries this day, and glad about that with the winding roads.

Armstrong Woods State Park was awesome and my favorite sight. Very peaceful in the woods.

Goat Rock State Beach was beautiful.

Muir Woods. Also beautiful, but I have to say that I preferred Armstrong Woods.
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Nov 9th, 2006, 05:44 AM
  #2
syd
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Almost forgot.

Gotta love those Hermes bath products and the fresh gardenia in our room at Inn Above Tides.
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Nov 9th, 2006, 08:47 AM
  #3
Wm
 
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Syd,

What a perfect trip--the "best of the North Bay." We live in Sonoma County so really appreciate you sharing your trip information so others will be inspired to stay off the beaten path when visiting our area. We feel our beautiful Sonoma Coast is well worth the drive out from the wine region so thanks for the feedback. I can only add that driving out to Jenner at the mouth of the Russian River and having a meal at River's End would be another unforgetable experience to add to your itinerary.
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Nov 9th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Sounds very nice! Thanks for the report, girl and the fig is always the first place we hit for lunch while in the Sonoma area. ***kim***
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Nov 9th, 2006, 05:04 PM
  #5
syd
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It was a perfect trip. How wonderful it must be to live in Sonoma County, Wm! Sorry we missed Rivers End. Next time.
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