Early last week Scott and I retreated to wine country in Sonoma to celebrate his birthday. It was just a quick two-day getaway and a much-needed change of pace. Wine country is beautiful in the fall, with autumnal colors, and a crisp, woodsy chill in the air. We seem to make it to wine country for a fall visit every year. Last year we stayed at Sonoma Mission Inn for a surprise birthday getaway.
This visit we chose to stay at the El Dorado Hotel on the edge of Sonoma Square. We’ve eaten at El Dorado Kitchen several times but this was our first stay at the charming inn on the top floor. As you can imagine, it is wonderfully convenient to stay right in the heart of historic Sonoma. We dined at the hotel for Scott’s birthday dinner and had brunch the next day at the Sunflower Caffe next door. We also got a jump on our holiday shopping by visiting the charming boutiques lining the square. For more on shopping in Sonoma Valley.
We spent an afternoon at one of Scott’s favorite wineries in Dry Creek Valley, Wilson Winery, from our earlier trip here. Another favorite winery is in Kenwood at Mayo. We enjoyed a private tasting a couple of years ago at Mayo here.
Despite the beauty of fall in wine country, it does not go unnoticed that the October wildfires caused tremendous devastation, yet only in specific areas. Parts of Glen Ellen, Kenwood and Santa Rosa were especially hard hit, but most of wine country feels completely untouched by fire.
During Scott’s birthday dinner we ended up chatting with a lovely couple at the table next to us. They eventually shared that their Bennet Valley home had burned to the ground, in a matter of a few minutes, on that terrifying night in October. While they are making the best of an abrupt life change, they also shared how devastating this kind of loss can be. Rebuilding your life from the ground up takes tremendous effort, patience, resolve and finding moments of humor whenever possible. I was especially touched by my new friend showing me her beautiful black boots. She said she had owned a pair of the same brand in brown. When the fire took everything but the clothes on their backs, she started to rebuild a wardrobe and was thrilled to find a pair of the same boots online, though in a different color this time. These boots represent just a small block in the rebuilding a life.
The best way to support wine country is to visit–and often! Take your cash or credit card and stay, dine, shop, taste, tip and purchase wine to take home. Share your appreciation and your well wishes with the locals who are truly #sonomastrong.
Contact me at Curated Travel for wonderful deals in wine country.Postcard from Wine Country – Fall Edition Postcard from Wine Country - Fall Edition Early last week Scott and I retreated to wine country in Sonoma to celebrate his birthday.
Every day as I drive through wine country, I just think about how lucky I am to live in the most beautiful county in California. Honestly, though, Sonoma County has the vineyards, the oak woodlands, the redwood forests, and the coastline. Oh and my favourite, fog. A few weeks ago I drove over to Glen Ellen and went down a windy side road for the sole purpose that it was autumn and it was foggy. While many of the vineyards are still reaching peak, this one tree had lost almost all its leaves. This one vineyard was so full of life even though winter is quickly approaching. To see the fog return after so many days of smoke from the fires really warmed my heart. While this vineyard was lucky, ones on the same windy road were not. But as winter arrives, so does a season of stillness and rest. A season of waiting for new life next year. A season of hope.
** From the new cookbook “The American Table” (released October 17)! Chef Larry Edwards takes us on a flavorful journey of true American food, featuring the classic dishes from the diners and cafes which at one time dotted our landscape from sea-to-shining-sea. As one reviewer noted, “The American Table is truly a dictionary of Comfort Foods.”
This potato soup is made with sweet potatoes, which might make you think its origins are in the South. True there are many soups featuring sweet potatoes from the South, but this one is strictly Californian. The first time I had a Sweet Potato Soup was at this little cafe in St. Helena, California. I loved the freshness and the texture (slightly creamier than a normal potato soup). I really didn’t want the bowl to ever empty!
SWEET POTATO SOUP (Serves 4)
Ingredients needed to make Sweet Potato Soup:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup orange juice
2 Tbs. dark spicy mustard
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbs. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1) In a medium saucepan, combine the sweet potatoes and stock and bring to a boil.
2) Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
3) Place the stock and potatoes into a food processor or blender and puree (in batches).
4) Return the puree back into the pan and bring to a simmer.
5) Stir in the orange juice, salt, pepper, cayenne, and sour cream.
6) Bring the soup just to the point of a simmer and then remove it from the heat.
7) Ladle into bowl and enjoy.
I’m nearly at a loss for words watching the devastating fires in our beautiful wine country. We are hearing reports of family and friends who have lost their homes. This image from iconic Signorello Estate a couple of years back that burned to the ground last night. Thoughts and prayers for everyone impacted by the firestorms.
Update: It’s been nearly a week since the catastrophic firestorms exploded in wine country and it still feels surreal. This is a place where I have both lived and visited regularly for most of my life and it always feels like home. Praying that winds calm for brave firefighters and predicted rains help put an end to the destruction. Sending love and prayers to family & friends who have lost homes and livelihoods.
Before and after images of wine country.
This story simply breaks my heart:
Resolution in wine country.Wine Country Fires Bring Devastation, Heartbreak and Resolve. I’m nearly at a loss for words watching the devastating fires in our beautiful wine country. We are hearing reports of family and friends who have lost their homes.
California fire death toll rises to 38, around 100,000 people evacuated
SONOMA, CA – OCTOBER 14: A structure burns in the early morning hours on October 14, 2017 in Sonoma, California. At least 32 people are confirmed dead with hundreds still missing. Officials expect the death toll to rise, and now estimate that 5,700 structures have been destroyed. David…
Read more: http://bit.ly/2ylF0dH
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Thanks in advanced