Redwoods, Wine, & Seashore

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We went up to the Russian River this weekend to celebrate Izumi’s birthday. The draw was the annual Barrel Tasting festival but we branched out and did a few other things while we were there. There was an amazing grove of 2,000 year old redwoods right up the road from our hotel where Izumi found a four leaf clover, and we also drove down to the coast where the Russian River meets the Pacific and headed down South to Bodega Bay.

I was a tad optimistic thinking that the kids would appreciate a tour through some of the regions finest vineyards. The finer points of what makes a good Pinot was a bit lost on them. Not all was lost though, Tyler did learn that the tin cap on the top of champagne corks is there to keep out the mice who used to gnaw their way through the cork. We did get to taste some fine Chardonnay Champagne and made it to Davis Bynum to taste some of their organically grown Pinots as well as a Syrah from the barrel.

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The trip was a last minute idea and everywhere I called was only taking reservations for two nights so I jumped on the place that called us back. Let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend it. I was lured by the good-looking photographs on their website (Retreat Resort & Spa in Guerneville) and the owner, who called us back, seemed nice enough. We arrived but instead of being welcomed, we felt as if we were intruding. The rooms definitely were not as nice as the pictures – electrical sockets hanging out of the wall, a soggy, moss-ridden rug out on the back deck, a half-finished closet, and water stains on the ceiling. It basically looked like a half-finished total makeover project. On the surface there was an attempt to reform what used to be a cheap roadside motel into a nicer set of bungalows but while they had made much progress so that on the surface it looked OK, there was still a lot of details that needed work.

The town of Guerneville was kind of interesting too. Despite being nestled within some pretty ancient redwoods, the kind where you’d expect to find fairies and gnomes, the folks that we met there seemed to be late-80’s era yuppie refugees. The hotel was playing a kind of house music I used to hear blasting out of windows when I lived in the Castro and the local coffee shop was playing Huey Lewis & the News.

Lessons learned this weekend? Don’t believe the photos you see on the website. Wine tasting is boring for kids. Sonoma County is beautiful. More photos here.

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