Category Archives: sonoma wine country

24 Hours in Sonoma, California

Vintage Plane Spotting with my sweet ride, Black Truffle, in Sonoma

I needed a break. Work was all encompassing. It was time to take matters into my hands. I had to channel the Layla I used to know and love. The Layla I had ignored for structure, order, and responsibility. It was time to throw caution to the wind and channel my inner spontaneous bon vivant.

I went onto Hotel Tonight on Friday night. The next thing I knew I was spending 24 hours in Sonoma at the Sonoma Hotel, a quaint historic inn smack dab in the center of Sonoma Square.

Sonoma Hotel… ain’t it cute?!

We didn’t want to drive once we started tasting (obviously), so, after searching for hotels in the center of town that were available last minute, reasonably priced, and walking distance to tasting rooms, we settled on the Sonoma Hotel ($200/night). It was adorable and just what we thought it would be. Quaint. Simple. Clean. Reviews were accurate about one thing. The walls are thin. Thankfully, after several tastings and general parenting exhaustion from the week/years, we fell asleep at around 10pm and didn’t hear a thing.

Tasca Tasca

Since this trip was completely spontaneous, we didn’t make a single reservation, but that wasn’t a problem. We headed for a late lunch at Tasca Tasca, a Portuguese tapas & wine boite served in a charming, European space. The above photo (from left to right) is their 7 item sampler. Perfect for two. We ordered kale salad (I’d probably pass on this next time or get the dressing on the side as it was a bit tart for my taste), blood sausage (husband loved it), ceviche (good and healthy since we wanted to drink our calories), crab empanadas (solid), Queijo de Sao Jorge cheese (I’d pass and try something else), Linguica Caseira (delicious traditional Portuguese sausage), and Bacalhau (salt cod cakes… can I get a ‘Si?’)

Sonoma Goods

We then walked off the food by visiting the Mission and reading about the history of Sonoma. One thing missing – the history of the Miwok and Suisunes people. All mentions of indigenous culture appear erased. Note to the Sonoma Tourist Board: rectify that situation, please. First, you see the servants quarters of General Vallejo’s home, La Casa Grande, built in the 1830s which later became the center of social life north of San Francisco. General Vallejo was born in California, but Mexico controlled the area at the time. In 1846, he was confronted by leaders of the Bear Flag Party (yes, that’s where the Bear Flag originates!). California was home to American settlers who didn’t trust their Mexican rulers. When rumors of an impending war between the US and Mexico came to California, according to Wikipedia, The California Republic, or Bear Flag Republic, was born as an unrecognized “breakaway state” from Mexico. For 25 days, the Sonoma area was controlled by the settlers and the breakdown of Mexican rule began.

Passagio Wines

After our tour of the town’s Mission and history, we were thirsty. Next up: wine at Passaggio Wines in the Sonoma shops. Since I’m a lover of white wines, I’d read that Passaggio had a nice selection. My tasting included their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc from Albini Vineyards in Sonoma, their 2019 Chenin Blanc from Heringer Estates in Clarksburg (my favorite tasting for its light clean aftertaste), and the 2019 Tempranillo rose (aka. Rose Colored Glasses). Steve, the sommelier, gave us a great history of the wines and the shop. Apparently, the owner used to work in law enforcement and, later in her career, decided to study wine making to eventually open the shop.

Life goals!

Day Boat Scallops

We then took walk around town to burn off calories and moved onto dinner. Since we enjoyed the tapas spot, we decided to try their sister restaurant, La Salette. I guess we were in the mood for Portuguese. My husband ordered a Wood Oven Roasted Octopus with sweet onion purée, red wine vinegar, and fried potato ($16) to start and he said it was delicious. I ordered the Chouriço Crusted Day Boat Scallops, Japanese sweet potato purée, leek confit, and molho cru ($17). The scallops were fantastic and cooked to perfection. The chourico (chorizo) crust was an excellent touch with its the firm consistency and succulent flavor. I also loved the leek confit mixed with the Japanese yam purée. Everything tasted filling, yet fresh and healthy. For our main, we shared the Bacalhau no Forno, a traditional baked casserole of north Atlantic salt cod, potatoes, onions, and olives ($27) because we love Bacalhau. What can I say? We ate it twice in one day! The other items looked wonderful, but we were pretty full from eating and drinking throughout the day. That said, we finished with a port flight and dessert because… rice pudding with cinnamon, madeira braised fig and toucinho do céu (an almond cake that almost tastes like caramelized fluffy oranges).

La Salette’s traditional dessert tasting

From there, we took the short walk through the quaint city square, made it to our warm hotel room above The Girl & The Fig (another local fave), and it was… 24 hrs. of bliss.

Sonoma: Wine Tasting… and Racing?

audi on track

Over a year ago we wrote up a racing school in Sonoma because we thought… How romantic! Wine tasting one day, flying down a track at high speeds the next. And really… what better way to fulfill both sides of your multi-faceted personality? Now, the Emotive Group and Audi are kickin’ it up a notch.  Created in 2007, the Audi Sportscar Experience is a track-based, hands-on driving experience designed especially for enthusiasts who love to drive, appreciate exceptional vehicle engineering, and are committed to improving their driving skills. Operating year-round from the Audi Forum Sonoma, located trackside at Turn 1 of Infineon Raceway in Sonoma Valley, they use a variety of vehicles from among the Audi R, RS, and S model lines taking drivers through a rigorous, behind-the-wheel instructional driving program at one of the most challenging race tracks in North America.  With its 160-foot elevation changes, challenging corners and breathtaking scenery, the 2.5-mile Infineon course has been aptly described as a small Nurburgring. The Audi Sportscar Experience includes half-, one- and two-day programs. So save your sobriety for a day at the track and let us know just how well you did on those hairpin turns.

A complete schedule can be found at:

Prices range from $695 – $4295

Address: Audi Forum Sonoma

Turn 1, Infineon Raceway

California Wine Country: The Russian River Road Less Travelled

Ah, that tender little fruit of the vine. How she struggles to bear the sweetest fruit… we adore her spirit so.

Every so often, those of us at Jaunt like to think of ourselves as Plato’s humble followers, fantasizing our future only to realize our full potential. We strive to live an all-organic life where what comes into our minds and bodies also radiates from us. Whether that means food, wine, wild ideas of pure love, or the quest to achieve our soul’s most absolute beauty and truth – we are lovers, not fighters. Which is also why we’re here and not practicing law. Though noble it may be. We *might* even go so far as to proclaim to our lover, just like Philostratus, “Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine, Or leave a kiss within the cup, And I’ll not ask for wine,” but we’re not that enlightened… yet. After all, we want the kiss AND the cup, and if you know anything about Greek symposiums, we’re pretty sure they involved a little bit of both. But wine country… it sure does make us dream of a small, intimate group of chiseled Athenians (in white togas) slowing feeding us grapes as they fan us with giant palm leaves.

You too?

(sort of like this – only not a cartoon)

So, we’re back from the 4th of July holiday, feeling amorous, in love with the vine, and better than ever. There’s something in the air that feels good right now and what’s the best thing to do when that happens? Enjoy it while it lasts. That means two things: good wine and the open road. Not at the same time, of course, but here’s what’s on our agenda.

You comin’?

The Russian River Valley aka. The (Wine) Road Less Travelled. For those unfamiliar, that’s Northwest Sonoma County, home to 150 wineries and 50 lodgings, just 50 miles north of the Golden Gate.

Mill Creek Winery, Russian River Valley

We’re saving our tasty wine picks for another in-depth profile on our favorite Pinots from Paso and the always alluring Viogniers of France and Sonoma (like the newly released Thumbprint Cellars 2007/Preston Vineyards), but first, here’s a perfect 3-day tasting adventure that our friends at the Russian River Valley put together for their favorite traveling winos. Whoops. Did we say winos? We meant wine aficionados.

Now start packing.

Day 1
Alexander Valley

10:00 Field Stone Winery
Sure it’s early to taste, but that’s what you do in wine country. Just don’t leave without trying their port!

11:00 Hanna Winery
Mediterranean architecture with a tasting room high on a knoll offering spectacular views of the valley.

12:00 Jimtown Store
The perfect local wine country lunch – sit out in the back patio with it’s grape arbors to keep you cool.

1:00 Hawkes
Leave your car at Jimtown and stroll next door to meet Jake and Laura Hawkes new tasting room.

2:30 Downtown Healdsburg
For an afternoon of window shopping and more tasting if you’d like. Quaint shops – bookstores, Powell’s Candy Shoppe, Season’s in the Vineyards housewares and more… plus 12 wine tasting rooms surrounding the historic town square.

5:00 Cocktails at Barndiva – sit out in the back patio and enjoy the beautiful weather.

6:00 Back to your room for some (ahem…) R & R

8:00 Dinner at any number of highly acclaimed restaurants like:

Madrona Manor

Day 2
Dry Creek Valley

10:00 Mauritson
A family with a long tradition of winegrowing in the Dry Creek Valley. We like those family stories and so will you.

11:00 Pedroncelli
Another longtime winemaking family – celebrating their 77th year. Sounds lucky, doesn’t it?

12:00 Dry Creek General Store
Not to be missed. Get a lunch to go, then picnic just down the road at…

12:30 Passalacqua Winery
Fantastic views of the valley from their picnic area with outstanding wines.

2:00 Ferrari- Carano
Spectacular setting, beautiful gardens, and variety of tasting levels depending on your interest.

4:00 Relax back at your hotel then see where you can find some live music, possibly the Hotel Healdsburg, Palette Arts Café, Madrona Manor or Barndiva.

For listings, prior to visiting the area, check out:

8:00 Casual Dinner
Healdsburg Bar and Grill – the BEST hamburger or flat bread pizza in wine country – and a great local wine list.

Day 3
Russian River Valley

One easy tour is to simply find your way to Olivet Road and visit the wineries all on the road. Stop in the morning and get a boxed lunch at:

Oakville Grocery
Big John’s Market or Ansteads

10:00 DeLoach Vineyards
Learn about their bio-dynamic farming and visit their gardens.

11:00 Sunce Winery
Meet the owners Janae and Frane as you taste your way through their varied wines.

12:00 Hook and Ladder
Former SF firefighter Cecil DeLoach now has a new winery.

1:00 Harvest Moon Winery
Find out about the different wine and olive oil classes they offer… as you plan your next trip! Sit in the back and enjoy your boxed lunch and sip your favorite Harvest Moon wine.

2:00 Time to head back to the airport…
If time permits, stop at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center and tour their culinary gardens, perennial gardens or demonstration vineyard.

Now really… who needs toga-wearing grape feeders, when you have Jaunt Magazine?

Or, better yet, why can’t you have both?

Sonoma: Wine & High Speed

I like to live life in the fast lane… but I also like to pay decent insurance premiums. Which is exactly why I’m the first one to take advantage of the latest and greatest amenity from The Lodge at Sonoma. WINE & RACING?!? Yep, you heard it here first. The Lodge at Sonoma announces its partnership with the Jim Russell Racing School, the pioneer in racing instruction, to offer guests the ultimate in excitement (and relaxation) with the “Speed & Spa” Package.

Offering an unforgettable experience for spa lovers and car aficionados, the package gives guests the chance to drive a formula race car during three thrilling days of course instruction at the world famous Infineon Raceway, followed by equally rejuvenating evenings at one of Wine Country’s finest resorts. After each day of adrenaline filled racing, return to the Lodge, relax in the natural mineral pools, and indulge in signature treatments at the Raindance spa.

Formula racing?
Artisanal wine country?
Five-star cuisine at Carneros Bistro?
Trips to nearby Viansa Winery to partake in a VIP wine tasting?

Sign me up!

For $4,795, it’s a little steep, but hey… memories ain’t cheap.

Jim Russell Racing School
1.800.733.0345, extension 21.

The Lodge at Sonoma
Reservations: 707.935.6600