Sonoma Wine County Tour is a Blast

Elizabeth at PetroniWhether the Sonoma wine country tour from yesterday contributed to my inability to stand upright this morning is not really debatable when the cause of my pain is limited strictly to my calves. Oh, yeah, it was all fun and games climbing to the top of the summit at Bald Mountain, with no regard given to how my body would react by the second morning, and let’s just say my husband could, if he so desired, plop me into a golf cart and drive me to the parking lot where our car is located and loaded down with more than one case of wine in the trunk. Or, he can listen to my yelps along the way.

Grape vinesRoughly 20 years ago I spent time in Sonoma and toured a few wineries on vacation from Minnesota. Because I have the good sense god gave a duck, I packed the wine into my then boyfriend’s luggage, wrapped up in his underwear and socks, which ultimately had to be thrown out because those red stains set hard. Tip: you should always have your wine boxed and shipped unless you plan to carry it on the plane yourself. We also drove ourselves, and it’s a miracle we’re still alive today after that.

Petroni CaveOh, how the wine country has changed since then. Years ago you could drive for miles and not spot a winery. Today it is so many wineries and so little time. We went with a group of 10 people, and our driver kept telling us on the way to our first winery that we were much too quiet, and how all of that would change and our conversation would become much more lively after our first winery. We knew he was right.

ADAM LITTLE WINERYWe visited the Petroni Vineyards first. I suppose the reason for this was a little bit like how some Sacramento REALTORS show homes. You know, often the first home toured is the home the buyer will want to buy and the home by which every home thereafter will pale by comparison. That’s what it was like to visit the Petroni Winery during our Sonoma wine country tour.

The tasting rooms are part of a large cellar, with 20- to 25-foot ceilings carved in the shape of a cave, with walls and ceiling sprayed in some sort of rough stucco. Giant chandeliers, strategically placed, showcased row upon row of wine barrels, offset by separate areas for wine tasting. I recognized our dining room table from Crate and Barrel.

Petroni Cave AdamAfter viewing a video, we nestled into an alcove to begin our wine tasting. Ryan, our guide, who invariably must go by some other title such as wine technician or wine guru or assistant to the vice president of wine production, I dunno, was extremely informative and entertaining. Let’s just say we bought the bulk of our wine purchases at this winery, but it also didn’t stop us from picking up at least 2 to 3 bottles each at the other 3 wineries we visited.

Adam and Lizz at PetroniWe learned how to check a glass for legs. Roll our glasses on the table without spilling a drop to coat the sides of our glass, although I did manage to spill some because I rolled the glass too quickly. You don’t want to smell the wine at the bottom of the lip because that’s where the alcohol concentrates but instead should sniff the upper rim furthest from your face. Ryan says he simply turns his head slightly and lets the aroma float past his nose. The colder wines we could warm by simply holding the bottom of the glass in our palm and not by its stem.

By the time we reached the last winery and nearing the end of our tour, the pours became smaller. Which, according to Andy, our driver, meant the other wineries had been pouring much more generous tastes that exceeded the one ounce limit. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because it was a glorious time, and I’m still partially standing upright today.

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