Itinerary: July 2008 Archives

Wine Country Itinerary: Dry Creek Valley

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By Courtney Cochran

Tucked into the northwest corner of bucolic Sonoma County - and just a few minutes' drive from downtown Healdsburg - Dry Creek Valley tempts visitors with an eclectic mix of wineries and a surprisingly varied mix of wines to try.  To wit, lovers of big, jammy Zins will be in heaven in this slice of wine country known as ground zero for California Zinfandel, while tasters looking for something lighter will delight in the region's rightly reputable Sauvignon Blancs, which lend welcome levity to the palate after a steady onslaught of the full-throttle Zins, Merlots and that Cabs that also call the valley home.  

Wine Country Itinerary: Geyserville

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By Robert P. Farmer

With the many so-called "destinations" in California's Wine Country, it's easy for visitors to miss the forest for the trees. Traveling from one big-name spot to another, the itinerant wine taster regularly passes blissfully by unearthed gems that could make them richer for the experience.

One such gem is Geyserville, a small, unassumingly quiet town settled on the banks of the Russian River and shoehorned between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. That it happens to exist in one of the great American appellations (Alexander Valley) is a bonus not just for the winemakers who populate the area, but also for the wine aficionado who prefers a more relaxed pace with his world-class tasting experience.

Geyserville is still a small town, the kind of place that would make Andy Griffith feel right at home. But it is emerging as well, and with the recent acquisition and transformation of a local winery by Francis Ford Coppola (Rosso & Bianco, and the Francis Coppola Winery, formerly Chateau Souverain), the klieg lights on the town will only brighten. Yet a homespun appeal still prevails. And the wineries that flank Hwy 128 in the heart of the appellation continue to welcome guests with a familiar embrace and a selection of wines that rivals the best from anywhere.

Wine Country Itinerary: Mendocino

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By Robert P. Farmer
Of California's many options for wine-touring, few match Mendocino for its bucolic aesthetic and for the drama of its natural beauty. Meandering through the verdant hills, twisting along the highways and byways, visitors are presented with a protracted display of wooded hillsides and expansive grassy, sheep-dotted meadows. And stretching toward the coast, the terrain gets steeper, more mountainous, until finally giving way to the never-ending stretch of blue that is the Pacific Ocean.

Mendocino County is unique among California's wine regions for many reasons, not the least of which is its wines. The climate is rainier in these parts, and the moisture combines with rich volcanic Anderson Valley soil to produce outstanding Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays along side unexpected but equally capable Riesling and Gewürtztraminer. There are several great wineries to be discovered along Hwy. 101 in Mendocino County, and more flanking the state routes that serve as tributaries to the Highway.

By Courtney Cochran

Dubbed "the most underrated wine appellation in the world" by a certain influential wine publication, the immense Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is home to more than 50 wineries and just a stone's throw from the bustling communities of Silicon Valley.  In stark contrast to its busy neighboring hamlets, however, the region marches to its own distinctly mellow beat, and wineries are reached by winding backcountry roads lined with towering redwoods.  Read on for an itinerary embarking from Los Gatos, a postcard-perfect town at the base of the mountains' easterly slopes and just 20 minutes west of San Jose.

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