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The Good Life In Sonoma, Ca.

June 4, 2009




Over Memorial Day weekend, I was lucky enough to join my parents on a 5-day, wine tasting, face stuffing vacation (Gotta love vaca-ing for free with the ‘rents!). I have become acquainted with a new definition of “The Good Life,” where you drink wine all day, eat big-on-flavor lunches, and enjoy afternoon siestas. Takes me back to the days traveling around Europe, but Sonoma is much closer to home. 

Perhaps the best part of my trip to Sonoma County is learning more about the world my parents fell in love with some 30 years ago. Summer of 1978, two newlywed wine novices visited family in San Diego, and out of curiosity, drove north through California Wine Country. Since then, my parents have made a point to head south to Cali at least once a year, but in their prime made the trip 2-3 times a year. They learned how to taste and appreciate wine from the best in Napa, even developing personal acquaintances with the Mondavi family – pre controversial meltdown. Yes, the love of wine had gotten into their systems and under their skins. In 1986, my parents even took a dream vacation touring the wine countries of France. In all seriousness, growing up in a family so centered on the appreciation of wine and the magic of wine country, it is a special experience for me to visit one of their long-time favorites with them. Now, if only I could keep up with them while tasting – I do not come from a family of spitters!

Clearly, Sonoma is wine country and the vineyards and cellars are the primary draw to visitors, but you would be cheating yourself by not visiting some of the local restaurants as well. Upon arrival, we dined at a restaurant in Windsor called Mirepoix. Mirepoix menuAs a crash course in Sonoma cuisine, I was impressed and pleased. Upon walking into the small grey cottage, it is easy to feel comfortable in the petite restaurant, which only holds about eight tables. For dinner, my family enjoyed Steak Tartar and Seared Foie Grais for appetizers, a mixed green salad with goat cheese fritters, and a French Crepe with braised pork and grilled zucchini and onions for an entree. Clearly, after dinner I was considerably full, almost uncomfortable, but what can I say? That’s how it’s done when you dine with the Burris family! The high point for me what the Foie Grais. Delicate, rich and light (if anything can be rich AND light at the same time, Foie Grais is it) It was served slightly runny in the middle and presented over a sweet toasted corn bread crouton.

After that first mouth-watering dinner, the fun and food didn’t stop. Among the wineries we visited during the day was Enkidu Wine. Sonoma’s “hot winemaker” lovingly named the winery after The Epic of Gilgamesh. After a rough morning and visiting a couple wineries with less than mediocre wine, we stumbled upon this small winery, unaware of the time and money soon to be spent. Not like that is a bad thing, Abi, one of the wine makers, was a dream to talk to. This girl knows her stuff when it comes to wine, greatly increasing my wine education and even teaching my parents a thing or two. My favorite thing about her was the creative way she would describe the taste of the wines. Instead of “dry,” “floral,” or “full-bodied,” we were informed that the Humbaba Rhone Blend was “the best french kiss you’ve ever had!” Other wine highlights were the Shambat Rosé of Syrah and the Fazekas Petite Syrah. However, if you are looking for eye candy, don’t visit the winery on Saturdays hoping to get a glimpse of the “hot winemaker;” he purposely doesn’t work Saturdays to avoid the crowds of women wanting to get a looksy. 

Other trip highlights included The Fig Cafe, Bistro Ralph, Artiste Winery and Tasting Studio, and Bistro Don Giovanni.

Mirepoix – 275 Windsor River Rd. Windsor, CA 95492

Enkidu Wine 8910 Sonoma HIghway (Hwy 12) Kenwood, CA 95452

The Fig Cafe 13690 Arnold Drive . Glen Ellen, CA 95442

Bistro Ralph 109 Plaza Street Healdsburg, Ca 95448

Artiste Winery and Tasting Studio 439 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg CA 95448

Bistro Don Giovanni 4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558

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