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Report 1556: 25th Wedding Anniversary Trip-Sonoma County

By Cindy Ruth from Alaska, Summer 2008

Trip Description: 8/3/08 to 8/8/08 25th Anniversary Trip to Sonoma Wine Country with some amazing winery visits as well as hiking and shopping.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - California

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Walking/Hiking; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 12: Day 1 - Arriving in San Francisco and Heading up to Healdsburg

photo by Cindy Ruth

Chateau St Jean

My husband and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary on August 6th, and we decided to celebrate by taking a trip to Sonoma County, CA. We've been to Napa Valley several times and we have always enjoyed it. How can you not enjoy sunshine, good wine, and good food? This trip we thought we'd opt for the more relaxed, quiet side of wine country, and stay in Glen Ellen and Healdsburg. We made a great choice with these locations.

We started off with a 2am flight on Alaska Air to San Francisco. I hate flying the red eye, but it was a direct flight and the flight time was less than five hours. We had used miles to book, so we booked first class, a nice way to start our vacation. We arrived just before 8am, and were surprised at how cold it was when we stepped outside. It was colder than it was in Alaska!

We took the shuttle over to get our rental car, and unfortunately, we had our first disappointment of the trip(luckily, our only disappointment). We had decided to splurge and rent a convertible. When we went to pick it up, they told us they didn't have one available. I felt like we were in the Seinfeld episode with the discussion of "What does a reservation mean if you don't have the car?" etc. I don't know what the reason was (they said something about a previous renter probably extending the length of their rental), but there was nothing we could do. We would have to spend more than twice the amount at another rental car place to get a convertible, and we weren't willing to do that. So we took a regular car with them, which they did give to us at half price. Unfortunately though, a convertible was the one request that my husband had made. But he was only grumpy for a short while, deciding that he would not let this ruin our trip. So on Northward, after getting lost a few times on San Francisco's (okay, all of California's) poorly marked streets/highways.

We were spending the first three nights in Healdsburg, but we couldn't check into our bed & breakfast until 4pm. We hadn't slept much on the plane, so we decided to drive to Sonoma and hang out in the park that's in the middle of the plaza. We enjoyed a nice nap on the grass next to the duck pond (thanks to those blankets from our Alaska Air flight that somehow managed to jump into our bags). We decided to have brunch at the Girl and a Fig restaurant. We were seated on a pretty vine-covered patio. I had duck confit hash with poached eggs and salad, and my husband had quiche Lorraine with frites and salad. The food was wonderful, and it was a nice start to our trip. After brunch, we browsed in the shops in Sonoma Plaza.

After leaving Sonoma, we again drove North. We weren't going to stop at any wineries that day, but have you ever tried driving by lots of beautiful wineries and not stopping? So we made a stop at Chateau St Jean. The grounds were very pretty, as is the case at most wineries. We split a reserve tasting($15). The tasting room was fairly crowded, and the service we received was just okay. But we did end up buying a couple of bottles of a chardonnay and a bottle of Merlot.

Back on the road to Healdsburg. Healdsburg is a charming little town, and one I hope to visit again in the future. We checked into Hayden Street Inn, where we were shown to our room by Keren, one of the owners. We were staying in the Garden Room, which was a corner room with windows all along two sides. The room was very small, but it was decorated nice, was very cozy, and nice amenities were provided including a spa robe and bottled water.

For dinner, we made reservations at Restaurant Charcuterie. This was a small restaurant right in the middle of town, a nice short walk from our B&B. I started with a soup of Chilled Crenshaw Melon & Mint, and my husband started with a salad of greens, almonds, and Gorgonzola. For my main course, I had Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Brandy Brown Sugar Glaze, and my husband had the Linguine with Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Onions, and Truffle Oil. Both were very good. Along with a glass of wine each, we were too full for dessert.

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