Visited Sonoma Valley last Saturday with Albert and Joyce, his friend from Amherst College. We had a late start, eating lunch at In'n'Out (Joyce has never been to the West Coast), before proceeding to Benziger Winery. Took a $10 tour at Benziger even though it was a rainy day, saw the beautiful vineyard, rolling hills, agrarian hillsides. Proceeded to the presses, wine caves, and the nice tasting room. Overall, we came away with half a case among the three of us (4 muscats, 1 buttery chardonnay, 1 port). The muscat tastes faintly of honey. :-)
Proceeded to Kenwood Winery, free tastings, the wine was okay but the prices were great. I bought a gurwertztraminer ($14) and a sparkling brut ($10) to make bellini or something fun later. Last stop was St. Francis Winery, a tasting menu heavy on the dry whites and reds. The best wine was the cabernet franc varietal, but at $45/bottle, I happily settled for the claret ($22). For dinner, we ate at the Red Grape in downtown Sonoma.
One of the best things about living in San Francisco and attending UCSF is the opportunity to visit Napa and Sonoma Valley. Wine country is good for the soul -- the beautiful landscapes, the peaceful vineyards, the delightful wine, the tasty foods.
It's a great idea that the UCSF MSTP admit weekend in early May will include a sojourn to Sonoma Valley. Sonoma is much less busy, commercial, and expensive than neighboring Napa Valley -- it's an interesting contrast and a fun place to visit if you like nature, plants, wine, fine food, and a dash of pretentiousness. Someday, I will write an essay on why I like wine so much, but for now, I just wanted to tell readers to ignore snooty wine drinkers and things like prices and ratings. The best rule of thumb is: "If the wine tastes good to you, then it's good." As in fine art, taste is always an individual and subjective luxury.