The Two Sides of Sonoma……..

Summer vacation – Yes!!


It was kind of a ying and yang trip.  We spent a week or so on California’s northern Pacific Coast at a favorite place of ours – Sea Ranch and a second week inland around Healdsburg.  Both are in Sonoma County but as different as night and day.

2nd one

Sea Ranch is a visual sensation of seascape views when the fog holds off, and it did, most of the time.


I’ve written previously about Sea Ranch in the post – California Coast  December 2011 so I will try not to repeat myself other than to say the Two Fish Baking Company  makes the BEST sticky buns  and  the Surf Market in Gualala continues to have an amazing wine selection!  I believe they may have felt our departure!


This trip we stayed further north than we ever have on the 12 miles of coast Sea Ranch’s utopian community comprises.  We were steps away from Seal Point and Shell Beach.  To my dismay Shell Beach had absolutely no shells on it.   Seal Point however had, at almost any given time, 50 to 200 hundred seals lounging on its beach.

seal point


We took a day to go north to Mendocino and found our favorite Moose’s Restaurant, now called Trillium to be a great respite from the touristy town.  The rest of our party took off to sea kayak and reported their adventure as a fun experience worth recommending.


We also day tripped to Fort Ross and Fort Ross Vineyard.  Once down the coast to the approximate site of Fort Ross a decision had to be made by our party.  Go west to see the actual fort, a former Russian settlement on the coast or navigate east up the “hill” to the winery.  No guess as to our choice.


The road to the winery runs through the Fort Ross State Park.  It’s an old logging road – curvy, winding, and steep but beautiful vistas through the forest to a gorgeous ridge overlooking the Pacific.


We spent the days reading, walking, puzzling, eating and drinking with friends and family who came and went throughout the days.  And of course there was plenty of  time to plan and execute some rather good pranks.



Interestingly, on our return flight to Florida the Sunday NY Times Magazine had a piece on Sea Ranch – “Utopia Rules”.  It truly put in perspective how isolated the Sea Ranch development was in its infancy.  I have to say I’m glad I wasn’t one of those teenagers!


Sea Ranch remains a gloriously peaceful escape!


Sonoma is a big county encompassing a diversity of land, water and terrain.  We spent a week following Sea Ranch, traveling to the town of Healdsburg and environs.    Sea Ranch and Healdsburg are only about 25 miles apart,  but there is no easy route to get between them. You choices are a winding river route from Jenner or an often one-lane logging road over the mountains from Stewarts Point.


Healdsburg is the heart of Sonoma’s wine region.  It’s wine industry continues to grow at a rapid pace.  Wineries and tasting rooms are popping up everywhere.   Thankfully It still remains approachable, friendly and extremely community minded. We got a real taste of this special community this trip thanks to a friend who set up some over-the-top, incredible tastings for us.


We stayed in an amazing estate outside Healdsburg, in Windsor.  Tertulia at Amber Ridge is tucked into the vineyards, private and beautifully appointed.  It was pure joy to spend the week there. For a group of friends or family this is the perfect venue.  The owners thought of everything.  The kitchen is a cook’s paradise.  The living areas are plentiful and the dining choices both inside and out are pretty spectacular.


We spent our days visiting wineries and we found some special places to share.  I’ll attempt to do justice to them in my next post.