Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sonoma Holiday

Some times you need to get out of town and chill out. The Schaaf family hit the road for the 4th of July / Dan's birthday and ended up in the Bohemian hamlet of Occidental. Where is Occidental you ask? It's a hidden gem just outside the Russian River and Green Valley AVAs, about 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean and elevation 1500ft. In other words, Pinot Country.


Our vacation home was on a small country road that turns dirt and makes it's way to Jenner (bikes and foot only). We noticed a few choice small Pinot vineyards on our street and did some investigation into who owned them and who it making juice with them.

Occientally the 4th

While visiting family in Santa Rosa we made a trek over to Kevin Kelley's Natural Process Alliance compound. VERY COOL and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Greeted by the social media cult start Hardy Wallace (aka @dirtysouthwines), we got a rundown of the operation and tasted the 4 wines NPA has to offer. The Sauv Blanc and Rhone field blend went home with us in trusty Kleen Kanteens. Their distribution system is a bit fuzzy and limited but I think it's only going to grow and grow. I also think we'll see copycats and poor imitators as time goes on. Maybe one day we can get Gallo out of Slurpee machines at 7-11.

Kanteen Maestro Hardy

We stopped by a few traditional wineries as well. Arista, C. Donatiello, Merry Edwards and Freestone. Trips down Westside Road in the Russian River Valley are always pleasant and the wines are always full of cola and cherries. Freestone is a new one for us. Turns out this fancy space, next to the best bakery in the world, is owned by Napa stalwart Joseph Phelps. They aren't the only invaders from the East (Camus is entrenched with the Boheme guys). The Friday night farmers markets in Occidental are fun and a chance to meet lots of the growers and sample wines at the "Cellar Door". It appears most vineyards are leased and rest are spoken for. So much for finding any hidden gems out there. None the less, all these wines are worth checking out.

A great and relaxing time was had. A great birthday party was held for yours truly (Dan) that included many insanely great wines including a few 1999 and 2000 Champagnes to go with our Hog Island oysters (BBQ'd and on the half shell). We enjoyed lots of pool time, hikes and sun.

Now it's time to sell the Grenache Rosé!

Oysters and Babybacks

ItalicAaron surveys the party damage

Watch the fog on Willow Creek Road
and groove to Harlem