Wine Country Weekend in Sonoma (October 3-5)

Fall 2014 was busy for us. I had a week-long work trip in San Francisco, and figured since I was already on the opposite coast, we should make a wine country weekend out of the trip. T traveled in to meet me along with 2 other couples.

We had a few hours in San Francisco waiting for everyone to arrive, so went for the obvious tourist destination to kill some time and stopped down by Fisherman’s Wharf to walk around, see the sea lions, and people watch. While down there, we made a great decision to hop aboard one of the boats and take a guided water tour that went under the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz. The boat was BYOB and the $15 ride was probably the most economical way to spend $15 in San Francisco! We were there on a gorgeous (unseasonably warm) day and loved the tour.

GoldenGate

Golden Gate Bridge

 

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Once everyone arrived, we traveled up to Sonoma to get settled for the weekend. We stayed at the Sheraton Petaluma.I’ve been to Napa once before, and had the privilege to stay in a locally owned hotel in downtown Napa – so the Sheraton was certainly less charming, but you’ll never hear me bash the Starwood hotel chain.

We arrived fairly late on Friday night, but made it out to Speakeasy for a late dinner. We had a great table on their patio and I’m pretty positive we tried everything on the menu. No complaints.

Saturday morning, we had great intentions of making it to 3 wineries. We made it to 2 – so feel pretty successful about our day. We started the day with some bubbly at Gloria Ferrer.  The grounds there are beautiful and the winery is large. We were seated at a table and then provided a tasting menu to select from. We enjoyed the tastings, but the experience was fairly impersonal  and felt slightly rushed.

Next, we traveled to B.R. Cohn. This stop lasted longer than intended, but we had a great time, great company, and there were fresh and BBQ’d oysters onsite for purchase.  We decided there was no need to hurry on to another stop. B.R. Cohn offers a more laid back feel than some of the other wineries. The winery is also owned by the manager of the Doobie Brothers, so you know they have fun music playing. They also have olive trees onsite and produce a variety of olive oils that you can taste and purchase. We did not sample a wine we did not like here, and ended up joining their wine club. Twice a year, we receive a shipment of 3 bottles. Before the shipments go out, I receive a phone call confirming the order and asking if there is anything else I would like shipped.

B.R. Cohn

B.R. Cohn

Olive trees at B.R. Cohn

Olive trees at B.R. Cohn

After B.R. Cohn, we decided to go to downtown Sonoma to grab a bite to eat. By recommendation, we ended up at The Girl and The Fig. We had a great table outside on their patio and everyone enjoyed the service and the food.

Running out of time to hit another winery, we discovered that Hawkes Winery has a storefront just down the street from The Girl and The Fig. So, we popped in for a tasting. The wines here were tasty, but  over our preferred price point.

Unfortunately, we flew out Sunday afternoon so were really only able to have one day to explore Sonoma. Luckily for us, we had a quintessential California day full of sunshine, nice people, and great wines. Sadly, we didn’t hit as many wineries as we would have liked to! Guess we’ll just have to go back🙂

Southern Charm – Charleston, SC (September 12-15)

Shortly after relocating to Northern Virginia, we had the fun opportunity to head down to Charleston, SC to celebrate a friend’s wedding. Not ones to miss a party or an opportunity to check out a new city – we were excited for the trip South.

Charleston

We did some online city recon before traveling – and there is so much going on in that city, it was difficult to narrow down our options for entertainment during the weekend! We had a fantastic time on our quick trip to Charleston, and thoroughly recommend you make a stop through there given the opportunity. Here are a few of the spots we visited and activities we recommend after enjoying the city.

Lodging:
Charleston is a gorgeous old city full of Southern Charm. Instead of staying at a hotel, we chose to venture out to Air BnB to find a downtown housing option. This was our first time using Air BnB and we had an incredible experience. Not only was it less costly than a downtown hotel, but we got to stay in a beautiful old home right in the heart of the city. If you are curious about Air BnB or looking for a more unique option for any upcoming travel, I would suggest checking it out!

Food Scene:
Charleston has an incredible food and drink scene to check out. We were only there for a weekend, so sadly didn’t have too many meals to source, but really loved our brunch at Hominy Grill and dinner at Poogan’s Porch. I had order remorse at Hominy Grill after seeing T’s Charleston Nasty Biscuit. Some things in life are worth the calories. This is one of them. If you find yourself at Hominy Grill during brunch hours, do yourself a favor and forget how terrible this is for you and just eat and enjoy. of Both are Charleston staples with history, friendly staff, and really tasty eats! We also wandered into a fun and cute bar that is worth mention while in Charleston. The Gin Joint was a great stop with a fun bar scene and unique cocktails without the pretentious, hipster feel that sometimes seems to go hand in hand with these types of establishments. If you’re feeling adventurous or undecided, check out the ‘bartender’s choice’ – where you select two adjectives (they provide a list), and the bartender whips up something to align with your request. The food in here smelled great, but we just stopped in a for a quick sip.

Hominy Grill

Sights to See/Things to Do
For only having a few short days to experience the city, I think we did a fairly good job of taking in what Charleston is about. We did not rent a car for this trip, so logged some serious mileage walking the city. Although we had scoped out the food and drink scene, we pretty much winged it for checking out the other city experiences. We made a stop through the newly opened Charleston Distilling Co. and were treated to a tour by the owner and samplings of the spirits. The space there is very cool and again super friendly, Southern hospitality offered by the entire staff. The wedding we attended was held at the beautiful Magnolia Plantation. The property was absolutely breathtaking. The iPhone photos I snagged do not do any sort of justice!

Magnolia Plantation

As our trip came to an end, we had just enough time for one more experience. My feet were shot from a day in heels (ouch) and we were both pretty tired of walking and sweating through the city, so we broke down and decided to take a carriage ride. We were not sure what to expect, but had an incredible experience. Our tour guide was fun, funny, and incredibly knowledgeable about the city. We learned so much that we would have not known or had the time to see otherwise. If you find yourself in Charleston and interested in a carriage tour of the city, I highly recommend finding Old South Carriage Co.

All in all it was a great trip, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go back!

Waterfront Park