• Adventures in Wine Country

    November 8, 2010

    I joked that yesterday was the third best day of my life, behind my wedding day and last year’s adventures to wine country. Ok, the day that Mal and I closed on our new house was pretty epic too, so maybe yesterday was the forth best day of my life! 😉


    When Jenna, Anne, and I arrived in Santa Rosa (via bus), we headed straight to lunch at Bruno’s on Forth, a cute neighborhood restaurant that serves tradition American cuisine.


    For lunch, I ordered a cappuccino.


    And a salad made with baby greens, candied walnuts, apples, and a herb goat cheese crostini. Both hit the spot.


    Once our bellies were full, it was time to taste wine! Our first stop was Dutton Estate Winery.








    I liked all of the wines that we tasted at Dutton Estate, but my favorites were the 2008 Vine Hill Chardonnay and 2008 Thomas Road Pinot Noir.





    Our next stop was Hartford. It was gorgeous!




    Of course, we took advantage of the beautiful location and took a zillion photos.





    In addition to snapping a ton of pictures, we did a tasting at Hartford. I loved all of the wines that I tried, but I especially enjoyed the Stone Côte Chardonnay and Fanucchi-Wood Zinfandel. I loved them so much, I actually debated buying a bottle of each, but, sadly, they were out of my price range. 😕


    Even still, I loved tasting them! 😀


    Clearly, Jenna and Anne enjoyed the tasting too! 😉



    Our final wine tasting of the day was at Kendall-Jackson. (FYI: Kendall-Jackson has a new wine blog. Be sure to check it out! 😀 )





    We had worked up quite an appetite wine tasting, so we snacked on some freshly made pizza as soon as we arrived. Pizza + wine = my heaven.



    It was so delish! :mrgreen:



    Then, Anne and I each participated in a wine pairing. I went with a wine + cheese pairing, while she went for the wine + food pairing.


    The wine + cheese pairing included six Artisan Cheeses from Sonoma and Marin counties, paired with six food-friendly wines from Kendall-Jackson. Each cheese was paired with a different wine that complemented its flavor and texture.



    Check out the pairing menu!

    • 2008 Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc + Délice de la Vallée, The Epicurean Connection
    • 2008 Jackson Hills Chardonnay + California Crottin, Redwood Hill Farm
    • 2008 Vintner’s Reserve Riesling + Carmody, Bellwether Farms
    • 2006 Grand Reserve Syrah + Estero Gold, Valley Ford Cheese Company
    • 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon + Capricious, Achadinha Cheese Company
    • 2006 Late Harvest Chardonnay + Point Reyes Blue, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company


    My favorite pairing was the 2008 Jackson Hills Chardonnay + California Crottin, which was a goat’s milk cheese with a sharp, meaty flavor and earthy aroma. It was both dense and fluffy in texture. The combination of the two was outstanding.


    In fact, I raved about the pairing so much, the nice folks at KJ sent me home with a bottle of the 2008 Jackson Hills Chardonnay. Sweet! I can’t wait to break it open! 😀


    Happy camper! :mrgreen:



    The wine and cheese pairing concluded with a refreshing palate cleanse, which was basically a Jello shot made with Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir. Interesting, right?


    I thought the tasting was over after the wine Jello shot, but the chef sent out a few squares of dark chocolate, which was paired with a small glass of port wine.


    Mmm! It was the perfect way to end the tasting.



    A few hours later, we met Kath and her husband, Matt, for dinner at Syrah Bistro in Santa Rosa.



    We enjoyed a nice Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner. It was bold, complex, and a little “juicy,” which is exactly how I like my reds.




    As an appetizer, the table shared a cheese plate with three local (and stinky) varieties.


    Before our entrees arrived, the chef sent out a couple of tasting plates for each of us to enjoy. The first included sweet potato, bacon, and blue cheese.


    The second was a cold celery-apple soup with a piece of skate. I really liked the unique flavors of both dishes.


    For my entree, I ordered the gnocchi, which was served with brussels sprouts, bacon, and shaved Parmesan. I loved it and ate every last bite.


    After eating all day long, I wasn’t sure if I had room for dessert. But, the table ordered the Fig Tart with Latte Ice Cream and the Chocolate Puddle to share, so I made room for a few bites. And I’m so glad that I did because the Chocolate Puddle was chocolate heaven in a mug! It basically tasted like partially cooked brownie batter. We devoured it!



    Recap of today coming up next. It’s been a full couple of days for me!

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    { 42 comments… read them below or add one }

    Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] November 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    You can totally see why this was the 4th best day of your life!

    Sonoma is breathtaking time of year & y’all are pretty cute, too 😉


    Kelly November 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Haha, this is a post full of gorgeous pictures- I can see why this was SUCH a great day :)


    Lindsey @ Morningstar Project November 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Your photos make me miss Napa so much! I love it there – food, wine, country side, what is not to love. Cheers to more fun days!


    Melissa (MelissaLikesToEat) November 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Really beautiful photos Tina! What an amazing day you lucky duck!! :)


    The Wife of a Dairyman November 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Definitely a busy weekend for you! But glad to see you’re enjoying your time in Sonoma County. A friend owns Dutton Estate, I’ll have to tell them to check out your blog:) Enjoy the rest of your trip!


    Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Yeah… that would pretty much be my dream day. Amazing.


    rebecca lustig November 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    this post IS epic. your pictures are absolutely STUNNING and i am so envious of your wine tasting adventures. it’s something i’ve been dying to do since i turned 21.. which was only 1.5 years ago… ha


    Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine November 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I can definitely see how that would be an amazing day!! That brownie batter dessert sounds absolutely heavenly. Glad you enjoyed your time in California, I hope you had a safe trip home as well!


    Michele @ Healthy Cultivations November 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I love the action shots, and honestly, the photos in this post are positively exquisite!


    Hannah November 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I thought I couldn’t want anything more than the cheese, but then you talk about coffee-flavoured ice cream? Oh, heaven!


    Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) November 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Wow, you’re making me so jealous and ready to hop on a place right NOW. Absolutely gorgeous photos! What a great way to wrap up the trip!


    Sana November 8, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I love how well bloggers become friends with each other. It is amazing.


    Alaina @ The Jogging Concierge November 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Oh that looks like such a fun trip! My husband and I went to Napa for our honeymoon. Can’t wait to go back!


    holly @ couchpotatoathlete November 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    What a fun day! I would love to go wine tasting all day like this — maybe one day :)


    Amanda (Eating Up) November 8, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    That dessert sounds soooo good. And I love that last picture! So clever!


    Annette November 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Wow, those cheeses looked so good! Not to mention that dessert at the end….. Glad you had fun!


    Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Definitely looks deserving as the 4th best day of your life :) It’s all so gorgeous!


    the salty girl November 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Aww! What a fun time! I love wine country. The air is better over there!


    Erin November 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    What college ring is that!?!


    Dee November 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Ahh, it looks like you guys had such a blast!


    kate November 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I love that we get to share your 4th favorite day with you via photos!


    Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow November 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    A most perfect day if ya ask me! :)


    Lynn (The Actors Diet) November 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    yay wine country! abe and i really wanted to go this year but we got such amazing deals on virgin we decided not to drive.


    Michelle (The Runner's Plate) November 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Amazing pictures! I need to go there some day!!


    susan@MomSwimBikeRun November 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    This post is making me thirsty! AWESOME pics!


    Katherine November 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    fig tart?! I have to go to wine country.


    Jessica @ The Process of Healing November 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I am SO jealous of you it’s not even funny…
    The wine, the cheese, the BROWNIE BATTER…


    jenna November 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm



    Krystina November 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    That really DOES sound like the perfect day.


    the blissful baker November 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    oh sounds like you had a great time! all of the food looks amazing, especially the chocolate puddle!


    dahli22 November 8, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Your photos look like they’re from a magazine. good work.


    J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) November 9, 2010 at 3:08 am

    That pizza looks amazing! Everything does, actually. :)


    Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday November 9, 2010 at 8:26 am

    That Kendall-Jackson winery looks pretty gorgeous!


    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

    This day looks pretty epic! I can see why it’s the 4th best day of your life. 😀 What could be better than wine, friends and food food?


    Mary November 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

    @Erin: I was thinking an Aggie Ring, but was wondering the same thing.


    Chicago Cuisine Critique November 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    It looks like an awesome day!


    Ali (food, fitness, fashion) November 9, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Yeah, that does look like a pretty amazing day! That pizza looks so awesome, I love when they are “well done” and the cheesy gets a little brown. I wish we had more time and could have gone and done some wine tasting- there is always next year :)


    Tracy Dutoon November 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you for stopping by Dutton Estate and we hope you visit us again soon. All of your pictures are amazing. West Sonoma County is a hidden gem; an enjoyable discovery experienced by you and your friends. Cheers!


    Lacey @ Lake Life November 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    LOVE the little shot of milk that comes with the Chocolate Puddle :-)


    Walnut Lovers November 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    The photos are incredible! Thanks for sharing this amazing journey. Happy Walnut Wednesday.


    Kelsi November 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

    this looks like such a fun day! i need to make it out to wine country asap. beautiful pics.


    Taryn April 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I love all the silly pictures of you and your girlfriends! They made me laugh! What a beautiful area.


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