Sandra and Allen Return to Wine Country in the Spring of 2013!

Goldeneye Vineyards presented us an excellent food pairing!


We did a short vacation to Napa and Somona last year and had a great time. This year we decided to do that again but extend the visit from five nights to a whole two weeks! Massages were included of course (four if you're counting) but the real enjoyment came from staying at bed & breakfast inn's this time and visiting Allen's sisters / family in Corvallis Oregon too. Oh yeah, we did manage to squeeze in twenty-three wine tastings. We started in San Francisco, drove up through Alexander Valley, spent some quality tasting time in Somona County / Napa Valley, continued on to Anderson Valley and then up the California coast to West Port and Eureka before turning inland to see Jacksonville Oregon. From there we drove to Corvallis and finally Portland. The weather was excellent the entire trip. We had our umbrellas but never needed them. It was a bit chilly at times but a light jacket was all that you wanted to wear.

What follows is a set of pictures we took along the way; they were all taken with our iPhone 5 cell phones. Click on the small picture to see a larger version.


San Francisco


Our first stop was San Francisco with the goal of seeing "The Girl With a Pearl Earing" at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. We stayed two nights at a bed & breakfast called the White Swan Inn. We were downtown, close enough to restaurants to walk to dinner the first night. We rode the street cars and the cable car around town, spending a good part of the first day in Golden Gate Park. The museum has a seven or nine story tower that you can ascend to get a great view of the city - you can even see the Golden Gate Bridge from up there. The lighting in the Farallon restaurant was designed to look like jellyfish - these were so cool! Our car for the trip was a brand new (as in 215 miles on the odometer) 2013 Lincoln MK-Z sedan. It was a real joy to drive around in style, but we didn't drive around in the city - we paid $35 valet parking for 2 days instead.



Alexander Valley


We basically just drove through Alexander Valley on our way to the Calistoga in Napa Valley, so we only stopped at a few tasting rooms. The first one was called Medlock Ames, which came highly recommended by a friend. We enjoyed their wines and so - we joined their wine club! Just a minute down the road was another tasting room for Hawkes Vineyards. We weren't as impressed there so we didn't join their wine club. The remainder of the drive this day was beautiful and we arrived at our next lodging in plenty of time to relax with one of the bottles we bought at Medlock Ames.



Sonoma and Napa Valleys


Everyone who drinks wine knows that this is the mecca of wine in the USA. Every state in the union produces wine but the conditions are so ideal in the Somona and Napa valleys that you just have to spend your quality time here. We spent four nights at a clothing-optional inn called the Meadowlark Country House. The clothing-optional part was only around the pool however, but it was an interesting experience. Having wine on hand made it much easier to shed one's clothing! Since our previous trip was spent in this area, we wanted to both visit the previous wineries and also do tastings at ones friends had recommended. Wine and food pairings generally need to be arranged ahead of time and we had several - a wine and cheese pairing at Paradise Ridge; an extensive tasting at Caymus; a wine and food pairing at St. Francis; a reserve tasting at Barnett; a barrel tasting at Repris. Only a few wineries are equipped to serve quality food, so it's best to check out their web sites to see what they offer. Most days found us doing tastings at three wineries but one day we did four (really too much at that point). Be sure to bring your credit cards as it's hard to not buy a few bottles to enjoy later on. We bought several bottles to give to our relatives up in Corvallis, Oregon since we were headed up that way.



Anderson Valley


Much like our earlier drive through Alexander Valley, our drive through Anderson Valley was a point A to point B kind of thing, but this time intended to get us to the California coastline and our next Bed & Breakfast - the Howard Creek Ranch Inn. Sandra loves to look at tide pools and the CA coastline is just the place to do it. Anderson Valley is known for Pinot Noir, much like the Willamette Valley is known for Pinot Noir in Oregon (which we would visit later in this trip). We stopped at Goldeneye Vineyards in Alexander Valley for a fantastic lunch / wine pairing. Being members of Duckhorn (which owns Goldeneye), membership does have it's privileges. We also stopped at Roederer Vineyards to sample the Pinot Noir there, but it wasn't as good as we remembered from last year.



West Port - California Coast


We arrived at the Howard Creek Ranch Inn and immediately fell in love with two of their cats - Midnight and Oreo. The Ranch itself is an old farm house / barn that's been converted into a Bed & Breakfast by the owner who used to be a wild child of the 1960's. We had a few discussions with him to learn about his projects, like a spa facility that's been in work for about ten years now. One of the ladies that helps out said that he is known for starting projects but not finishing them. Anyway, we loved the rustic room and of course we enjoyed one of our bottles of wine over the two nights we stayed there. Sandra wanted to see tide pools and that was the focus of our stay. Allen enjoyed a "German Massage" by an 60 year old German woman who is living off the grid - no electricity, no natural gas service. She does have a telephone though (just a land line). She has a 10 foot by 10 foot hut near her house (never saw the house due to the woods, so it could have been a trailer) and it's loaded with artwork. She could be another flower child from the 1960's. As you know, the northern California coastline is so beautiful as the pictures below will reveal.



Eureka - California Coast


This was just a one-night stop in Eureka to see what the gold rush started back in the 1800's. We stayed at The Ship's Inn, where we had the Captain's room along with a claw-foot bathtub. There were many old Victorian homes in the town, several of which we drove by on our way out the following day. The water front area / boardwalk was nice but it was getting a bit chilly so we mostly just sat in a restaurant and chowed down on raw oysters. The west coast oysters are briney when compaired to the east coast. Sandra likes the briney ones.



Jacksonville Oregon


Jacksonville was a very nice place. We came in via the Applegate Valley, so we stopped at a winery there (Troon) that was recommended by the guy that taught an Oregon wine tasting class at Cheestique in the Del Ray area of Alexandria, Virginia. We took that class in March 2013, just in time for this trip up the coast. We stayed at a very nice bed & breakfast inn called the TouVelle House, which was built by a judge in the mid-1800's. There was lots of history to learn, and what better way than to take our first Segway ride? We were able to sign up for a two-hour tour of the city and it was lots of fun riding the Segway's. You don't think about it while riding, but you are standing the whole time so at the end of the tour it you feel it in the legs. We did stop several times of course - to take some pictures and such. Oh, there was another massage for Allen in this town, just a short block from our B & B.



Corvallis Oregon


Our arrival in Corvallis was met with a big parade and lots of ticker tape. Allen's sisters Judy and Carol are such fun! Ok, seriously now, there wasn't a parade. But we did arrive on time to the bed & breakfast called the Harrison House, where we would spend the next two nights. Our first priority was to see Allen's sister Carol and her husband Richard. Soon however it was time for a massage, which Carol arranged for Allen and she paid for it too! Oh, we did stop at a winery on the way into town - Abacela. The Pinot Noir was nice but we were holding off on joining another wine club until we visited Willamett Valley. That first evening we had the whole family together for an excellent meal. Everyone had a great time. You should note that Corvallis is a nice town, complete with Oregon State University. We walked around the university the following morning to see all the beautiful flowers before heading out with Allen's sisters / spouses to do three wine tastings in Willamett Valley on our second day.



Portland Oregon


The last few days of this wonderful trip. We only needed to drive less than 100 miles from Corvallis, but stopping along the way at some wineries does take time you know. We spent our last few days at the Fulton Inn, just outside the metro area of Portland. This bed and breakfast was once a whore house floating on the nearby river in the early 1900's and they moved it up to the shore at some point before either of us was born. The reason for the floating "house boat" was to avoid legal issues and to protect against police raids. Anyway, we had a nice room complete with "two-buck-Chuck". What? A nice room near the Willamette Valley and they want us to drink this below $4 wine? But wait. After we checked in and went to dinner, we came back to find out that the owner wanted to give us a nicer wine since they had moved our reservation to the basement room. We were able to choose a wine from their wine cellar. How nice! Since we had given all our wine purchases away in Corvallis, we now had something to drink in our room. Getting back to Portland for a minute, the city is interesting and worth visiting. We had our first meal downtown at a sort of bistro that was recommended by a Virginia wine consultant. It was very nice. The second night was a meal in the industrial area, where there was some renovation going on. That meal included a ton of olives (as in maybe 50). We did visit the Japanese Gardens too, along with a few nearby wineries.

Flying home - look at Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier!

Updated 20 May 2013. Questions / Comments? Contact Allen at bigal01@gmail.com