Day 16: Touring the Wine Country

Trip Start May 29, 2010
Trip End Jun 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
Marine's Memorial Club and Hotel

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Wine is sunlight held together by water." 

Today we had planned to take a tour of the Sonoma Valley.  Just after breakfast, we met our tour guide, Joe Cohen, of San Francisco Private Tours.  He provides tours of San Francisco as well as the Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries. The tour began at approximately 10:00 a.m. from our hotel and prior to heading out to 'wine country' Joe took us on a tour of San Francisco.  The tour included a trip to the Presidio, a former military base, as well as several upscale neighborhoods.

We also visited the famous Haight/Ashbury neighborhood.  According to Wikipedia, the Haight-Ashbury district is famous for its role as a center of the 1960s hippie movement, a post-runner and closely associated offshoot of the Beat generation, or beat movement, members of which swarmed San Francisco's "in" North Beach neighborhood two to eight years before the "Summer of Love" in 1967. Many who could not find space to live in San Francisco's northside found it in the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight-Ashbury. The '60's era and modern American counterculture have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood ever since.

The neighborhood became the center of the San Francisco Renaissance and with it, the rise of a drug culture and rock-and-roll lifestyle by the mid '60s. College and high-school students began streaming into the Haight during the spring break of 1967. San Francisco's government leaders, determined to stop the influx of young people once schools let out for the summer, unwittingly brought additional attention to the scene, and an ongoing series of articles in local papers alerted the national media to the hippies' growing numbers. By spring, Haight community leaders responded by forming the Council of the Summer of Love, giving the word-of-mouth event an official-sounding name. 

At the time we visited Haight/Ashbury, there was a large street festival just getting underway with all local streets closed off to traffic to allow food vendors, as well as other vendors to set up shop along the closed streets. It was quite a site to see, and we captured a number of photo's which have been uploaded into this blog.  An interesting fact we learned was that the 'Grateful Dead' resided at 1210 Ashbury Street. Mike, being an avid Grateful Dead fan, and fans are often referred to as 'dead heads,' wanted to stay an extra day in San Francisco to sleep at this address, or at least sleep on the front porch, however, common sense did prevail when Kevin and I had a long talk with Mike and convinced him that Val was waiting for him back in CT!

"If you remember the 60's, you weren't there."
----Author Unknown

After leaving the San Francisco proper, we proceeded northerly on Rte 101, over the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country.  Our guide, Joe, who has been providing tours for a number of years, asked us what our preferences were in terms of wine. After a brief discussion, he decided that our first stop would be at a small, yet upscale winery, the Petroni Estate Winery. He made a phone call and cleared the way for our visit.

The Petroni website describes the start of the winery as follows:
"Lorenzo Petroni's dream was to be the first California vintner to grow the prized Sangiovese Grosso clone from his native Tuscany in Sonoma soil.  He sensed that California could produce stunning results with Italian varieties, similar to the new world successes accomplished with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay." The website further describes the Petroni Winery as "producers of ultra high quality small production estate bottled wines and extra virgin olive oil." 

We were greeted at the main entrance to the Petroni's weekend home after the security gates were opened to allow entry.  The hostess who met us was extremely friendly and ushered us into the living quarters.  The dining table was set and prepared for us to begin the wine tasting.  

Although known for their popular red wines, the three of us especially enjoyed the white wines that were presented.  After sampling a number of wines, were were then provided a tour of the wine cellar where we had the opportunity to taste a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc that was poured from the vat.  It was excellent! In fact we like the 2009 vintage so much that we decided to change our wine order from the 2008 to the 2009 vintage.  We look forward to receiving the 2009 shipment!  A general rule of thumb is, unlike red wines, a younger white wine has a better taste.

Although we had the opportunity to visit two other wineries today, we all agreed that the Petroni Estate Winery was a 'class act' and rates very high for their excellent wines.  We enjoyed our visit and were honored to have the pleasure of visiting the Petroni weekend home.

An interesting side note is that Lorenzo Petroni also owns the famous North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco, a restaurant know for its authentic Tuscan cuisine.  This is also San Francisco's #1 ranked Italian restaurant, and we regret not having the opportunity to dine at the restaurant.

After departing the Petroni Winery, we made stops at the Imagery Winery as well as the Jacuzzi Winery, both excellent choices by Joe Cohen.  The wines tasted in both wineries were also excellent, and resulted in additional wine being ordered and shipped home.
Between our visits to the wineries, we had the pleasure of having lunch at the Glen Ellen Inn, an eatery with the slogan "Where Food is a Beautiful Thing." The Inn is well known for its excellent, yet moderately priced, meals.  The house specialty is oysters, whether they are ordered baked, fried or raw, everyone loves them!

Following our winery tours, we returned to our hotel at approximately 5:00 p.m. and had diner at a small neighborhood Italian Restaurant located next door to the Marine's Memorial Hotel and Club.  Not too long after dinner, we decided to 'hit the sack' early as we had a long travel day on Monday.

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matt on

well that's a good way to put it... nice insights, works great in clientele explanation and information resource option.
san francisco wine tours

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