In Kenwood………

Kenwood is very quickly becoming one of my favorite places in Sonoma County.  I am purposely trying to time my days so I can end up near Kenwood to catch lunch at Cafe Citti .  The town along Route 12 has some of the county’s best restaurants, tasting rooms and wineries.

When friends took us to Cafe Citti for the first time we parked in front of the En Garde tasting room.  Curiosity about the winery and the wines brought us to make a future appointment to taste.


It was definitely a good choice.  En Garde focuses on Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.  The coveted grapes from the vineyards on Diamond Mountain in Napa for the Cabs and the Russian River for their Pinot Noirs make many of the wines created by owner and winemaker Csaba Szakál true standouts.


Our host for the tasting was Paul Morand. I still have a grin on my face from meeting him!  Humor and ancedotes aside, He is an excellent host!

I found these wines to be the most appealing:

  • 2013 Malbec Alexander Valley
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain
  • 2014 Gold Ridge Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Le Bijou Du Roi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

They are not everyday wines.  They are quite amazing and most definitely worthy of serving with a special meal, special friend, or for a special occasion.

I am looking forward to going back for another taste and with hopes of having the chance to try their Magdalena berry port.

Thank you Paul and En Garde for a great tasting experience!



Sonoma Underground……..

This past weekend we attended the first ever “Sonoma Underground” event held at Longboard Winery in downtown Healdsburg.  Elizabeth Schneider and Laura Perret Fontana created Underground to” help family-owned, unique producers thrive.”

The event showcased 15 small, independent wineries. Owners, winemakers and their families were there to pour.

Some of the standouts as determined by our group of seven were….

Kieran Robinson Wines was pouring Sparkling Brigade which was delicious.  Sadly they don’t sell it. You have to visit their winery to try it.

Longboard had an eye-catching Woody parked out front that was pretty irresitsible.

The vehicle warning was pretty catching too!

I’ll look forward to more events from Underground as this one was extremely well done.



Events in the Wine Country……..

We’re on our way to Truett-Hurst’s New Release Party. There is an endless schedule of wine events this time of year.  Picking and choosing is tough!

Truett-Hurst is in the Dry Creek Valley and has a great property along the creek for picnics and gatherings.

This release party featured Got Ball’s meatball sliders and some amazing chocolate brownies!

The brownie was the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Truett-Hurst’s 2015 Burning Man Petite Sirah.

Good wines, good food and wonderful music on a sunny day in the vineyards – It doesn’t get much better than this!

                         ___________ .  __________

The next weekend we headed off to Copain Winery. The drive alone through the county to wineries is beautiful this time of year with the Santa Rosa Plum trees in bloom.

Copain Winery has a majestic location.

Their newly released rosé was being showcased for the party……

and there was no shortage of Copain’s other wines to taste!

Sharing wine and wood fired pizzas with great friends at a spectacular winery makes my day!

This was a winery member /guest event.  Every weekend there are one or more of these scheduled throughout Sonoma.  There are also larger ticket events scheduled.  One coming up in April is Passport to Dry Creek Valley.  This will be our first year attending Passport.

If you’re looking for an excuse to get out here, I’m told by many this is the event to come for.





Westward Ho!

The next adventure in our lives begins……..

Knowing our latest renovation project is in the hands of great owners……… We’re off on a 3,000+ mile cross country trip with a destination of Healdsburg, California.

We packed in the dog and the wine and headed out.

In the Panhandle of Florida – This is pretty darn amazing!  It goes on and on! The Old Spanish Trail in Milton – built between 1919-1921.

The drive through Louisiana and east Texas was rice fields and refineries.   It reminded me of how important a crop rice is to the south.

Our third day we cruised into Austin, TX for a relaxing lunch on S. Congress Street.

South Congress on Martin Luther King Day. Lunch at Güero’s was fantastic.

We drove on to San Antonio for the night and spent some time on the River walk and The Alamo!

When in Texas – try the Texan wine!  We ate at a terrific place – Zinc Bistro and Bar. The wine was a disappointment but the food was fantastic.


There was a winter ice and snow storm moving in.  Schools and business were closing the next day in preparation for bad road conditions.  We opted to make a run for it at 5:30 am.  It was our first encounter with freezing rain and 28 degree weather in decades!

Our car was an icicle! BUT an hour and a half outside of San Antonio we were on clear roads.  We were crossing the state of Texas, not exactly on our planned route but we were safely out of the winter’s worst storm to hit the south in 2018.

The first of too many trains to count from this point on.

Not many towns on the route but when we did come across one it inevitably had some terrifically crazy additions among its buildings!

And…..signs like this one – “Hitchhikers May be Escaped Inmates” –  This one definitely made you want to pick up speed!


This requires no comment.  Heading into Marfa……….

Marfa, TX


On the way to White Sands National Monument out of El  Paso, which had to be our best detour of the trip……….

The Military area is full of some weird sightings!

White Sands National Park is in the Chihuahuan Desert, NM

Honestly,  it was cold enough to believe this was snow!

The park service sells sleds to hit the dunes on!

Look closely!  There is yet another weird site in this field!

Another town that may have been worth spending some time was dotted with donkey statues colorfully emblazoned with paint- Carrizozo, NM.

On our way to Santa Fe…………..

It was frigid cold!

We had a reservation at Luxx Boutique Hotel. It’s a challenge to find great accommodations when traveling with a canine.  This one was very nice and just 2 blocks off the Plaza.

We dined that night at Geronimo’s sharing a terrific 2015 Gigondas with a Wild Mushroom Bisque that rivaled my favorite at Indigenous, along with Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and Elk Tenderloin.

Before heading out in the morning we had coffee and a quick breakfast at The Famous Plaza Cafe.  It’s been there forever. The all time favorite in Santa Fe is Café Pasqual’s which we will have to catch on a return trip.  I can’t wait!

The ever changing landscape is so awesome.  How can mountains take on so very many different shapes and colorations?

Poisonous snakes and insects? We didn’t go too far walking the dog!

Crossing the Mojave Desert……..

Rocky was ready to give up the car!

A welcome sign!

And truly a nice surprise welcome from good friends after 8 days on the road!







Leaving home……….

Saying goodbye to Sarasota and to our newly built / renovated cottage was huge!  The process was daunting having just unpacked our belongings and filled the wine room less than 8 months ago.

Aside from the normal packing…….It was necessary to sell off a major amount of the wine inventory, pack and ship some ahead, and arrange for a small amount to travel with us.  A big help with the process was arranging to have a wine storage facility, All Ways Cool in Santa Rosa to store and accept our deliveries.


Our friends were so gracious to entertain us before we departed.  We had a truly amazing time sharing special bottles together.

The time also presented an excuse to finally try some of those wines that had been laid down for years.  Sadly, some were down just a tad too long, others were great!

I wish I had remembered to snap photos of all of them! I’m definitely missing some incredible wines, especially sparkling ones!


Thank you to all for the wonderful send off!

And…… thanks so much over the final days for the food delivery, the care packages, help distributing our goods to charities and for packing our car safely! Nothing moved or rattled!

Looking forward to your visiting us in California!

On the road………





Visiting the relatives………


We were headed to a wedding in Orangeburg, SC and a side trip to Charleston.  On our way we veered over to Brunswick Georgia and St. Simons Island to visit our newly discovered relatives.  They’re a quiet bunch for sure – and old! – going back five generations!

We found a terrific lunch place in Brunswick serving the best fried green tomato sandwich I’d ever had.  You might pass up the Indigo Coastal Shanty   for its appearance but don’t!  Great service, amazing menu and very popular!

We headed out to St. Simons Island to visit the relatives in Christ Church’s cemetery.  We found the most notable – Great, great, great, great grandfather Dart and his wife Ann……..

From there we learned that most of the family resided in Brunswick in a cemetery called Oak Grove.   We found the burial ground the next day.

We spent the night on the island and dined at Del Sur, a small and exceptional restaurant that for some unknown reason does not show up in advertising, on maps, or guides that I viewed.  We’d been before and promised ourselves we’d return as the food was so memorable. We brought a bottle with us, a 2014 Herman Story Larner Vineyard Ballard Canyon and enjoyed it with Del Sur’s terrific entrees.

Outside of Charleston we stopped  at Timbo’s Boiled Peanut trailer . This is a not to be missed stop for boiled peanut lovers. Some of the best in the south!

We were unable to get into the ever popular Husk Restaurant on our last visit to Charleston but we scored a reservation this time.  The fried chicken skins and steak tartare were fantastic appetizers.

We stumbled upon this cemetery in the City of Charleston………….Just thought I’d post it as it is uniquely different from most with its approach to greenery!  It was breathtaking!

On the recommendation of a friend we changed our reservation the next night to Le Farfalla.  Our dinners were so amazing!

Sadly, as is the case with too many restaurants, the wine list was not maintained.  Our first choice was sold out, our second choice was sold out and we settled for one that we would not have ordinarily picked.

Always nice to get away on a road trip!




Returning to the Anderson Valley……..



The weather is not perfect in January for exploring the Anderson Valley..  Could be nice. Could be rainy.  Could be snowing.   We got the rain and a hit of snow this visit however, in any weather, this valley is gorgeous.


We drove from the Sierra Foothills to the Anderson Valley.  There is a route between the two around Clear Lake.  We opted for the quicker route through Sacramento west to 101 and up.


Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley



We stayed at the south end of the valley at the Boonville Hotel.  Accommodations are in the hotel and in cottages on the grounds. The grounds are extensive and appeared to have lovely outdoor facilities for use in good weather.


Our cottage at the Boonville Hotel



We dined our first night at the hotel sharing a wonderful 2014 Navarrouge from Navarro Vineyards. It’s Navarro’s house red.  They coin it “gluggable” as it is intended to be enjoyable upon release.


Apple orchards still dot the landscape in the valley


This was our third visit to the valley so we were looking to try some of the newer wineries to the area.  Witching Stick was a truly pleasant find.


Winemaker, owner, Van Williamson was on hand to pour. He had a full line up of his wines to taste.  Our two favorites and the favorites it seemed of everyone tasting with us were  the 2015 Zinfandel Rosato and the 2013 Fashauer Vineyard Zinfandel.



Van Williamson


Domaine Anderson was another stop. Owned by the Roederer family, the property was purchased and vines planted in 2009.  They produce still wines – Pinot and Chardonnay.




Sheep tending the vineyard at Domaine Anderson


Stone and Embers is a new dining spot in mid valley open for lunch.  Very popular with exceptional pizzas and a terrific starter on the menu of a bowl of olives served hot in oil and spices.


Toulouse was another stop on our visit.


While there are images of geese everywhere, the lively bird in the tasting room is of a different variety……….


Their Pinot was a good find.



We stopped in to Lichen, formerly Breggo Cellars.   We did visit on a previous trip but the change to Lichen who, is now making the wine, brought us back. You can read Lichen’s story. It’s interesting!


We had a terrific visit, with a great host.  I rather liked the sparkling wine they are producing from pinot gris grapes called Blanc De Gris.



Hard to  miss the Navarro General Store at the north end of the valley


It’s a great wine region to discover, or rediscover, and its close to the coast for combining with a trip to Sea Ranch or Mendocino.  If you go, it is definitely a bit tough to find dining choices in the valley off season. There are not many to begin with, and a number of them take a break in the winter.



Van Williamson 
Witching Stick Wines
Enjoyed your wine and travel blog. Please stop in again on one of 
your visits to the Anderson Valley. It was funny how everyone liked 
the same wines that day. The Zinfandel is always near the top in the 
monthly sales but usually is followed by one of our Pinot noirs and 
Thanks again,