Friday, 6 May 2011

A mini-break in a mini adventure

Wine country. We almost missed it. We almost spent four days driving on the interstate instead. I'm very glad we didn't.

After sweating our butts off in Death Valley (I think I neglected to blog on that: it was 98 degrees Fahrenheit and Badwater Basin was salty, Adam licked it to be sure), driving a bazillion miles to get around the closed road to Yosemite, which we would then hike, we decided that we deserved a little holiday. Yeah, yeah, we're already on holiday. But this mini adventuring is tiring and we wanted some down time. And where better than Wine Country in the 90 degree heat. Mmmm.

We spent three hot and sunny days in the glorious Healdsburg (thanks to Sian's recommendation), which is in North Sonoma Valley. I've not been to Napa but I'd say this is just as good. Hell, it's probably even better.

As you know from my previous post, we stayed in a Best Western. I had rather biased views on the place after reading Dave Gorman's America Unchained. He despised the place, and everything it stands for in coprporate America. And while he had good reason to, I had good reason to love it. For a start, it wasn't a tent. Also, it had two beds (I like an extra bed to use as a dressing table, so sue me). And it had a pool - an essential element for a holiday in the sun. Sorry, Dave. But I'm sold. As was Adam, evidently.

We were in Healdsbug for three nights. And by the end of it, I didn't want to leave. Our Best Western was on the side of a main road so we were a little concerned that this was all the town had to offer but once we had found the central plaza we were really in love. I could seriously live here. And mainly because of this independent book shop.

Copperfield's Books, a place that we showed good custom three days running. God knows how much money and time I could've spent in there if we had stayed in Healdsburg for longer.

Don't worry. We found some time for wine, too. There were a lot of winerys to choose from.

But Sian had also recommended an incredible winery, Quivira, so we headed straight there on our first full day.

It's not just any winery. This one is certified Biodynamic and "uses the energies that create and maintain life to establish a rich, healthy, self-sustaining biodiversity". Here are the beautiful gardens where there are beds and beds of vegetables and leaves, a 'prep tower', bee hives, fruit trees and a flowform water feature.

Once we'd taken in the gardens (soundtracked by the content chickens in their 1/3 arce coop), we went to the tasting room. Oh, there it is.

We didn't get any pictures of the actual tasting but we made our way through some Zinfandels, a Syrah and two Sauvignon Blancs. I have to admit, I struggled to tell the difference between the reds, apart from that one of them tasted of parma violets (or a floral palette of lilac and violet) but I could tell taste the difference between the Sauvignon Blancs. One was born in a stainless steel barrel and was consequently light, bright and crisp. While the other came from a wooden barrel - the depth of the wood was really evident.

Aside from visiting Quivera, we spent our time chilling by the pool and in the jacuzzi...

...exploring the town centre, relaxing in the lovely central plaza and cruising past other vineyards in the area.

 After we'd checked out, we headed south to Calistoga and the Old Faithful Geyser of California. It wasn't as big as usual but it was erupting every five to 10 minutes, as opposed to every 40.

There was also a petting zoo. I think Adam was more interested in the goats than the geyser.

Some of them were Tennessee Fainting Goats. He was trying to psyche them out. It didn't work.

From here we travelled south to Santa Rosa where we had booked a Days Inn off of one of the highways. The least nice place we've stayed yet, which made us want to head right back to Healdsburg. But it was cheap, close to Point Reyes National Seashore (BEAUTIFUL, post coming up) and on the way to San Francisco, which is our next stop. Whoop!


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