Kisses from California!
Let me start off by saying I'm a good girl. I stopped drinking for 6 weeks - I mean completely dry - I did the whole cleanse & detox thing like any good Vegan does & should... Right before I drank my way through California for 10 days! Eeehhhh it all balances out right?! In my mind it does! Soooo this was my first visit to the infamous wine country!
And I had six weeks to make up for! I even lost a few liquor pounds so of course I wanted to put those back on... & I did... By drinking decadent red wines & bubbly champagnes! I was in HEAVEN!
We started off in Napa at all the hot spots like Opus One, Robert Mondavi & Domaine Carneros & it was everything I imagined it would be! Beautiful rolling vineyards with gorgeously designed wineries, interesting & educational tours with no timeframe, no agenda & just non-stop tastings until you can't drink anymore!
(But then you just wake up & start all over again the next day!)
From Napa to Healdsburg... I loved this quaint little town just overflowing with wineries that is also just a hop, skip & a jump from the Russian River Valley. In Healdsburg I was lucky enough to have a wine rep to give me all my personal tours!
Brenda Bullington is the girl you want to bring when you are crossing Sonoma County wasting the days away tasting wines! She even took me on the obligatory stop to see the "Disney World" of wineries: Francis Ford Coppola!
What a treat! But after one too many tastings, Brenda was more than happy to grill veggies in her backyard & make organic salads with her own homemade dressing. We all chose to drink our "dessert" & I learned something fascinating about her dog!
He's a wine drinker too! He might actually be a wine connoisseur! I've never seen a pup like wine so much that he would actually drink it right out of the glass! This Australian Hunting Dog is the real deal... He even made fun of me for my dry detox & called me a lightweight!
The next day, after a hike to Lake Sonoma, Brenda took me to an organic Farmer's Market that had a plant-based cuisine booth called "Chalk Hill Cookery" ... If you're ever in Healdsburg, you must check them out & say Hi to Chef Matteo Silverman! Anyway, we went crazy ordering every dish on their entire menu so that we could have the swankiest Vegan picnic at a local winery & you can see from the pics that this was not a bread & fruit picnic... We dined in high style with some very special food. In fact, the access to such great animal-free food inspired Brenda to "Go Vegan" for a week... Every little bit makes a difference!
Next it was off to Sonoma, to the Benziger Winery. All my fellow environmentalists will love this place as it is the only organic & biodynamic winery around! They are making high-end wine without using any chemicals or fertilizers & while incorporating animals & insects into the natural grape-growing process. The tour was fascinating, I learned so much & I was inspired by people who are more interested in preserving our earth's resources than making massive amounts of money. Truly impressive.
Good friends, great wine & cruelty-free food... All while traveling through the beautiful California countryside! Benziger was definitely my favorite stop in wine country. We had a vegan dinner there under a full moon & we had another one of our famous "picnics" there the next day. I can't wait until my cases of wine are delivered because I'm craving more of their wine already!
PS We stayed at the Gaige House in Sonoma which was this adorable boutique B&B & look what I was lucky to have for breakfast: homemade granola, fruit & vegan pancakes & cupcakes! Perfect hearty breakfast to get the tummy full & the palette cleansed before another day of expert wine-tasting! ;)