We started Monday bright and early, in order to take the bus tour of Wine Country we had planned. It wasn’t a bad way to go. Next time, I might prefer to drive and have a little more independence, but I didn’t have a particular winery in mind, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Our bus driver chattered inanely throughout the trip, handing out trivia without any real structure to his speech.
The first stop, Kirkland Ranch Winery, seemed to be a pretty big operation. They just showed us the main building, which used to be a house. It was a pretty cool log structure that the family who started the ranch built. Our guide talked about the history of the place and then took us upstairs to do some tastings. We got to try three wines. The first was a chardonnay. It wasn’t bad. The second wine was a mixed wine, similar to a chianti. I really enjoyed that one. The third wine was a lovely sweet wine with a thick, honey and fruit flavor. I picked up two bottles of that for the holidays.
The second winery was Madonna Estate. It was by far the most interesting tour. They went more in-depth about how they grew their grapes organically and how they made the wine. The wines were good, too. They gave us Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Muscat Canelli. I paid a little extra to try the reserve version of the Pinot Noir, because I was curious how it compared. It was definitely more full-bodied. I liked it. The Muscat was very light and sweet. We brought home Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
At this point, it was lunchtime. We stopped in the town of Sonoma and were given an hour and a half to wander. We sampled cheese in the Sonoma Jack Cheese factory and decided to get lunch at their deli. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted, so I ended up with a strange amalgamation. I brought half of it back to the hotel, but just now, I realized that I forgot to throw it out.
Our final visit was to Viansa. This was also a very commercial feeling place, even more so than Kirkland. The buildings and grounds were very pretty. The architecture was reminiscent of an Italian villa, and rows of grape vines spread out over the hill that the building sat on and the surrounding fields. It was quite picturesque. The staff was not nearly so pleasant. While it was getting late, it was still an hour before closing time, yet they rushed us through the tasting in 15 minutes. I suppose they wanted to give us plenty of time to purchase their myriad merchandising options. I didn’t see anything that interesting. Might have been a nice place to eat lunch, though. They sold a variety of foodstuffs.
Finally, we piled back into the bus and headed home to San Francisco, the bus driver blathering all the way. Saw the “houseboats” of Sausalito. Sorry, they don’t look like boats, and they don’t have foundations.
Back at hotel, we asked the concierge for a good sushi place. She pointed us to Ozuma, a place on Steuart Street. It was much trendier than we expected. While the fish was tasty, there wasn’t as much of a selection of sushi as we usually encounter. What we did eat was good, though, and not much more expensive than we typically pay in Boston, probably due to lower prices in general in San Francisco. We did get to see a few of the Waynes brothers, though, which was amusing. I don’t really like their comedy, but it’s kind of neat to randomly encounter celebrity.