Heading north from San Francisco for a few days in the California Wine Country, I was eagar to relive my very favorite backroads wine country outing. Even though I spent eleven years leading groups on this same exact route (and would do it again in a minute if any of my readers want to put together a group), I am thrilled to return again (especially now that I live in Idaho) with my cousins in tow.
From Petaluma, take Bodega Ave (get yourself a map) to Valley Ford Road, destination the village of Freestone. You will wind through gently rolling hills and emerald meadows reminecent of the English countryside resplendent with flocks of sheep and spring lambs. Stop for a few few minutes in Freestone a blink-and-you-missed it rustic little town. Save some tummy room for a sticky bun at the Wild Flour Bakery. Spa enthusiasts must not miss an osmosis enzyme bath at the Osmosis world class spa hidden away in this tiny town.
Having totally indulged yourself, drift north again through wooded lanes to the quaint welcoming town of Occidental. Lost in time with no expansion for decades, I always envision ladies of the 1920’s coming by train from San Francisco with broods of kids for their summer lodgings. My mother, in fact was one of those children who learned to swim on the Russian River during summers in a cabin named “Don’t Worry”. Her Dad came up for weekends while Grandma and six little ones played away the summer at Camp Meeker just down the road from Occidental.
Enjoy an Italian meal family style at Negris. Walk around the town visiting the little shops for folk art. Rest for the night in Occidental at The Inn At Occidental. This is an exquisite bed and breakfast with all the romance , ambiance and delight to the eyes of a country home. I personally recommend selecting The Inn at Occidental if you are celebrating a special occasion.
Next, we meandered up the redwood line roads towards Camp Meeker. Just beyond we swerved left into the Alliance Redwoods. My children went to school in the lodge here for three years long ago. Now it is a bussling center for nature study classes and retreats. More exciting, today though is the “Canopy Tours! ZIP THE REDWOODS!! 7 adrenaline-pumping zip lines-one over 800′ long.” My cousins purchased a gift certificate for their son’s anniversary package. www.sonomacanopytours.com
Still having a grand time, we continued past Alliance Redwoods to Monte Rio and Guerneville to Armstrong Redwoods. I always feel as if hobbits are watching me from under dewy ferns in this enchanted forest of giant redwoods. Cool and peaceful for an afternoon walk, my heart is filled with joy at the beauty of God’s creation. Another way to tour Armstrong Redwoods is on a segway. To set that up contact http://segwayofhealdsburg.com/. Ask for my son, Michael Del Vecchio, to be your guide!
Do you like champagne? We are in the wine country so you must visit the Korbel Champagne Cellars. Tasting and tours are free. My favorite is the “Natural”. Here is our darling wine server and my grinning husband. The tour includes a facinating story about the Korbell family history so be sure to catch it.
Of course, a stop in Sebastopol at the Fosters Freeze for a soft-serve icecream is a must. This was my husband’s restaurant for 22 years and boy do I miss my daily dipped cone. Thanks for coming along on my favorite Sonoma County tour. We didn’t visit many wineries or take a side trip to the coast but you can on your trip.