Two Picnics and Pinot-fection

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, September 24, 2010

After a wonderful relaxing evening including a soak in the hot tub, we woke to another fabulous day. We planned on visiting two wineries then driving west to Point Reyes National Seashore. While doing research on dog-friendly wineries in Sonoma, I had discovered Mutt Lynch winery, a small appointment only tasting room. Harley, Mike and I loaded the car for our 11 am appointment. We arrived a little early and the winery was deserted. We took a stroll through the vineyards and even nibbled on some grapes. "Why do I like the taste of Merlot grapes more than Cabernet when I feel just the opposite about the wine?" I was thinking when Brenda Lynch, the owner pulled up. She opened the simple barn/ tasting room and invited the three of us in. A simple bar was set up near the entrance while the back was occupied with barrels and steel drums. Drawings of dogs and pup- covered-MuttLynch memorabilia decorated the wall Brenda explained that they donate a portion of their proceeds to the SPCA and their wine club shipments also come with dog toys. We began the tasted with the Unleashed Chardonnay that I really liked, but was tickled by the fact the grapes came from Monterey. Next we sampled the Chateau d'Og Cabernet, a yummy 100% French Oaked wine with a fantastic $13.99 price point. I especially liked the Canis Major Zinfandel with its wonderful nose and great mouthfeel boasting chocolate, vanilla and spice. We finished the tasting with the Rusty Muttitage a blend of Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Petite Syrah layered with berries and coffee.   The wines were great and so were the prices.

The last winery we visited was Matrix, located in Northern Russian River Valley. My winemaker friend had highly recommended it, and boy were we glad that we ventured off course a little to discover this gem. Mike and I both agree this may be one of the best tasting rooms we have ever been too. After our hostess welcomed us, she asked what we liked to help us narrow down what we wanted to taste. I responded, “I am a sucker for fruit forward wines with spice and vanilla.” She laughed, “You came to the right place.”

The menu consisted of a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Bordeaux, a Petite Syrah, four Zinfandels and nine Pinot Noirs.  Everything  we tried was fantastic. The 2007 Alegria Reserve Zinfandel was an absolutely solid Zinfandel. I knew immediately we would take home a bottle. The 2008 Nunes Reserve Pinot Noir was absolutely incredible. Mike and I agreed that I was the best Pinot Noir we have ever had. Mike actually wrote “Pinot-fection” on the tasting notes. If a $45 price tag wasn’t attached we probably would have bought a case. It had a very full-body  with a velvety texture displaying my favorite notes of black cherry, spice and vanilla. Wow! I never thought I could love a Pinot so.  We bought two bottles and each purchased a glass to drink with the sandwiches we bought. We set on their deck overlooked a creek and the vineyards. I savored every sip of the luscious wine and Mike and I agreed we needed to buy another bottle. Thankfully, we no longer had to leave wine in a hot car as we lugged several bottles from Matrix into the parking lot.

We set off on the hour and half drive to the second half of our adventure. We wound past other vineyards. Usually the closer you get to the coast, the more development occurs. However this was the opposite. In fact, part of my desire to go to Point Reyes was that despite being close to San Francisco it is off the beaten path. We drove up on an estuary or I wouldn’t have known the coast was upon us. We followed Highway 1 along Tomales Bay and through a couple map dot towns before crossing the San Andreas Fault and onto the peninsula that makes up Point Reyes National Seashore.

 After checking into our hotel, we purchased some cheese, olives, salami, and fresh bread and headed to North Beach, one of the dog friendly beaches. Point Reyes is a huge area with the interior occupied by 100 year old dairy farms.  The coastline is rugged and dramatic. I knew from my research that it was usually chilly and shrouded in fog, but the weekend forecast promised warm temperatures and sunny skies.  We could not have asked for a better weekend to visit.

Mike took a nap on the beach and Harley and I took a long walk without seeing another soul. It was stunningly beautiful and absolutely peaceful.  Harley and I returned from our walk to find Mike setting up our picnic dinner.  Mike opened a bottle of wine and we nestled back on our elbows. We snacked, drank, and relaxed watching waves crash as the sun sank lower in the sky. Life was perfect.

Wineries and Point Reyes Links:
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