We’re now north of San Fran in Sonoma County and the heavy coats are back out. High teen highs during the day and below 10 at night. Andrew is shivering but I’m enjoying the welcome break of not feeling overheated and sweaty.
California is EXPENSIVE! Our first few nights here we stayed at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park - $35/night with no campsite amenities, plus extra for firewood and 25 cent a minute showers. And the wine tasting fees are outrageous - $25-35 dollars for 3-5 sips and you only get that waived if you buy upwards of $100 worth of wine! So we are being very choosy where we are going.
But that said, it is absolutely beautiful, and as a wine region, there are definitely things the Okanagan could learn from here. Foremost among them is being dog-friendly. The visitor’s guide lists all the wineries that welcome dogs, and they mean it. At Gloria Ferrer, Coco was ushered onto the outdoor tasting patio like royalty and given her own ceramic water bowl.
There are many outdoor beer and wine gardens, at restaurants and at vineyard estates, where dogs and their owners sit at communal picnic tables over a glass. We really enjoyed Cornerstone near Sonoma - with gardens and artwork, and a clothing/decor store called Nomad Chic that also exists in Todos Santos! I had a great chat with the owner about how much we love Baja and her experiences living there.
Also, the Barlow in Sebastopol is great! It’s a former fruit processing plant that has been repurposed with markets, craft breweries and wineries and cafes. On Saturday night we enjoyed pints at Crooked Goat Brewery with an eclectic local crowd and then went to the Community Center where they were having a Beatles Sing-Along Party! There were young families, teens, seniors and everyone in between all dancing and laughing and singing their lungs out. What a fun little town!
I would love to see this kind of spirit in Kelowna. Imagine the Tolko plant redone as a maker marketplace!
As for nature, the landscape here is much more reminiscent of Ireland than what I would consider a wine area. It’s lushly green with rolling grassy hills and even hand-stacked stone fences like all over Great Britain.
There is much evidence of the fires that rampaged through here last October. Along the road up to Sugarloaf Ridge, there are blackened stumps and charred home foundations, plus homes that were across the street from destruction. Many signs like “First Responders are our Heroes” remind me of Kelowna in 2003.
36 hours of our time here was washed out by a deluge of rain. Knowing any campgrounds would turn into mud pits, we blew the budget on two nights at the Motel 6 in Petaluma to stay dry. Wow, have to say it was pretty nice just to sit in bed all day long and watch TV while it poured buckets outside. We had to literally drag poor Coco outside to do her business twice during the day - the only times we left the room!
But it’s warm and sunny today....on to the Russian River area!