Our real goal on this trip was beer, which we did as well as we could. I can’t imagine going through Sonoma and Mendocino county without some wine drinking as well. We tried a few of the wineries in the Healdsburg area and unfortunately the experience didn’t do a whole lot for us. I guess I’m partial to the beer “sampling” in which one gets a sampler of they want, sit and enjoy, and maybe drink a pint to go with it. It all felt rather stuffy to me with wine and the first place we went I felt inadequate if I was not tasting the flavors I was told I would clearly taste. So, we didn’t do many. Although after a pleasant enough tasting at a winery called Lambert Bridge, we had a really nice picnic in their gardens with a view of a nice hillside and that california spring sunshine. But shhhh, we had local beers in our cooler, not wine.
That said, we did go to the Cline winery the day we headed back in to San Francisco whose wines we know pretty well. This really changed my perspective and made me think we had just gone to wineries that I didn’t really like. The folks at Cline were really pleasant and unpretentious and the wines were really good and I felt like I was hanging out at a knowledgable bar rather than the stuffy wine-tasting feel I’d gotten elsewhere. And the wines were excellent. I also found that most of the flavors they said were in the wines were flavors I got. The surprising one was a wine that said it had eucalyptus flavors in it. I thought, either I won’t taste what they’re saying or I won’t like it (I mean, eucalyptus as a wine flavor?) but I was absolutely wrong. I got the flavor they meant immediately and it was quite unique and enjoyable. So, OK, maybe I was wrong about the wine thing. I don’t feel a need to go back for a california wine trek (I do for the beer, though), but at least I get it now.
We also had a really nice bottle of a local winery with an Italian meal in North Beach. I guess it worked out as we’d imagined: mostly beer hunting with at least a sampling of the local wines.