Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, dining and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Sonoma & Napa.
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Sonoma & Napa
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Napa & Sonoma you can see these species: Western Meadowlarks, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Savannah Sparrows, Mallard, Gadwall, Canada Goose and Burrowing Owls.
Go Birding (101things.com/winecountry/go-birdwatching/) is a feature with a future at 101 Things to Do.
The California Department of Fishing and Wildlife (dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region3/nsmwa/tourguide.html) provides good insight and directions for specific birding areas.
If you have a boat or access to a boat the Napa-Sonoma Marshes site (cawatchablewildlife.org/viewsite.php?site=295&display=q) should be your guide.
Shopping: Everywhere you go in the Sonoma & Napa Valley there are shops, boutiques, stores and galleries to tempt your indulgence.
Transportation: (You will need a car for this trip)
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Business Information: Northern California is open for your Business! Check out (countyofnapa.org/Businesses/)
At The Welge Report we have been using Airbnb on occasion for our lodging. In Sonoma we stayed at Peggy’s. We are pleased to report that we enjoyed a wonderful experience.
Day One: After dropping our bags at Peggy’s we headed for the di Rosa Collection – Nov-Mar: W-Su: 10-4, April-Oct: W-Su: 10-6, 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa, 707-226-5991, “reservations are a must”.
The di Rosa Collection houses approximately 2,000 works of art by more than 800 artists. It is sited on over 200 extraordinary acres of vineyard, gardens, and natural landscape in the Carneros Appellation of the Napa Valley.
Lunch is at Market – L & D: Daily, 1347 Main Street, St. Helena, 707.963.3799
It’s a great menu making for some difficult choices, but we suggest either the blackened chicken empanada with avocado, lime crème fraiche, pureed black beans and queso fresco or the dungeness crab cake with sautéed corn, roasted pasilla peppers and a coriander citrus sauce.
The ’07 Valley of the Moon Zin will be a good match.
Now it’s time for a ride in the hills to The Hess Collection – Daily: 10-5:30, 4411 Redwood Rd, Napa, 707-255-1144
Tucked into the hillside of rural Mount Veeder, this winery brings art and wine together like no other destination in the valley.
Featured artists include: Franz Gertsch, Robert Motherwell, Anselm Kiefer, Magdelena Abakanowicz and Leopoldo Maier. The winery is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines.
Staying in Sonoma has its advantages, the first of which is the Sonoma Wine Shop – W-M: 11-6, 412 First St, Sonoma, 707-996-1230
You get to taste 5 wines for $5 and they do all the research and most of their wines support local/small ventures. They are associated with La Bodega whose kitchen is a little gem.
They make everything from scratch and if you just want to enjoy some cheese with your wine, that’s ok. They have that covered.
Dinner is at Kenwood – L & D: W-Sa, 9900 Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-833-6326
Kenwood is one of our favorites and also of local winemakers, vintners, artists and celebrities. Speaking of artists, they have some wonderful art that will get your attention.
Start with either the crispy duck spring rolls or the escargot cassolette. A glass of NV Gloria Ferrer Brut would be nice with either.
Then, the calves’ liver with sautéed onions, bacon and mashed potatoes or veal piccata with porcini raviolis, capers and artichokes.
Try the ’10 David Noyes, Max’s Vineyard Merlot. Dessert is the flourless Swiss chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and a glass of Graham’s Tawney 10 year old.
Day Two: Breakfast is at Community Café – B, L: Daily, 875 West Napa Street, Sonoma, 707-938-7779
Lots of good choices, we suggest either the Straus plain yogurt topped with Margie’s delicious granola made with dried fruit, coconut, & nuts or the light and fluffy waffle served with their special house made maple-butter.
Your first stop of the day is the Quixote Winery - Tu – Su: Tour and Tasting:10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-944-2659
The only Friedensreich Hundertwasser building in America (Hundertwasser had a lot of rules, all of which create the festive atmosphere that is Quixote: no straight lines, roofs are planted with grass and trees, every building is capped with a gold leaf onion dome to elevate man’s sense of himself, and color is king).
It’s home to the red wine of Stags’ Leap Ranch in Napa Valley whose specialty is petite syrah and cabernet sauvignon.
Another great story and eye popping experience is your visit to Clos Pegase Winery – Daily: 10:30-5, 1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, 707-942-4981
An excerpt from the story of Clos Pegase: Working with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jan (the owner) sponsored an architects’ competition.
From a field of 96 entrants the judges selected renowned Princeton architect, Michael Graves. He was commissioned to build a “temple to wine and art” at the base of the knoll and a home for Jan and Mitsuko at its summit, with sweeping views of the Napa Valley below.
Within the knoll itself 20,000 feet of aging caves would be excavated, including the breathtaking Cave Theater, a dramatic setting for celebrations, presentations and special events. Construction was completed in 1987.
The spectacular structures Graves created — and the surrounding sculpture garden that includes some of the world’s greatest twentieth-century works of art — have won international awards and generated great excitement in the wine industry.
The national press has been generous in its praise as well, describing Clos Pegase as “a place of pilgrimage” and “America’s first monument to wine and art.”
Time for lunch at Redd Wood - B, L, D: Daily, 6755 Washington St, Yountville, 707-299-5030
At Redd Wood, son of Redd, Dee had the special which was a ravioli with brown butter, beets, goat cheese, chives and hazelnuts and a glass of Bodega Rancho Viognier. Dick had the pizza with anchovy, tomato, garlic, olives, pecorino, capers and chili with a glass of Stolpman Sangiovese.
Than for good measure a glass of Pape Star – granache/syrah/mouvedre. Then Dee had an expresso. Everything was excellent.
Close by is your next stop at Sterling Vineyards – M-F: 10:30-4:30, Sa,Su: 10-5, 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, 800 726-6136
Sterling Vineyards offers fine wines, attractive tasting rooms, and warm hospitality, as well as an innovative, self-paced tour. Their aerial tram is the only one of its kind in Napa Valley, offering stunning views as visitors ride up to the winery.
You are greeted with a glass of wine to enjoy while you stroll through art galleries, overlooks, and elevated walkways that allow guests to follow the winemaking process from grape to glass. Along the way, motion-activated flat-screen televisions provide detailed explanations.
Back to Sonoma for a little wine before dinner at Enoteca Della Santina Next Door – Daily: 4-10, 127 E Napa St, Sonoma, 707-938-4200
Here you can enjoy 30 wines by the glass – sparkling, red and white – as well as a selection of ports, dessert wines, imported beers and espresso.
They also offer cheese plates, paninis, Burger Thursdays, and the full menu from Della Santina’s Trattoria.
Dinner tonight is at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc - D: Th-M, 6476 Washington St, Yountville, 707-944-2487
Ad Hoc has a prix fixe menu that changes nightly and has a salad, entrée, cheese course and dessert.
For instance a typical offering is iceberg wedge salad followed by the applewood smoked bbq beef ribs and Carolina gold bbq pork, Nancy’s camembert in puff pastry and the K & J orchards satsuma plum trifle.
Day Three: Breakfast today is at Alexis Baking Company and Café – B,L: Daily, 1517 Third St, Napa, 707-258-1827
We suggest either the Huevos Rancheros – poached or scrambled eggs on crispy corn tortillas topped with black beans, cheddar, salsa and sour cream or the Smoked Salmon Sandwich with eggs, cream cheese, red onions and capers on a potato bun.
The Godfather suggests that you take a look at Inglenook Estate – Daily: 10-5, 1991 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, 707-968-1100
Frances Ford Coppola, creator of the Godfather trilogy, purchased the Niebaum Estate in 1975, and has been expanding his wine empire ever since.
The Chateau has two tasting rooms, a museum and a unique retail area. The wines include the celebrated Rubicon and many other white and red varieties.
Our cousin suggests that you make a pilgrimage to the Robert Mondavi Winery – Daily: 10-5, 7801 St Helena Hwy, Napa, 707-226-1395
Bob Mondavi created the term Fumé Blanc in 1966 to distinguish his dry Sauvignon Blanc from the sweeter-styled Sauvignon Blanc wines made at the time.
His original vision was to produce wines from the Napa Valley that would stand in the company of the world’s finest.
These wines are sourced from the finest appellations in the Napa Valley including Oakville, Stag’s Leap, Carneros and other select vineyard sites.
The wines are blended together to create wines of complexity and elegance made possible by the diversity of these vineyard sites.
Your meal today is at the Auberge du Soleil – B,D: Daily, L: M-F, 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, 707-963-1211
We enjoyed dining at Auberge du Soleil more than 30 years ago when it began as a Napa Valley restaurant created by the visionary restaurateur Claude Rouas.
They have two dining options – the more formal Restaurant and the less formal Bistro & Bar. In their words: The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil features rich interiors accented with abstract paintings, exposed beams and warm wood furnishings.
Tables on the famous terrace are some of the best and most sought-after in Napa Valley where one can enjoy panoramic views of the neighboring vineyards and stunning sunsets.
The adjacent Bistro & Bar, in a relaxed contemporary style, is an inviting setting in which to sip a cocktail by the fire, dine on lighter fare al fresco or enjoy one of the 40 wines served by the glass. Staying here is at the top of our experiences.
Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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