Sonoma/Napa Valley Weekend (Part 1)


For Valentine’s Day weekend/President’s Day we took a quick flight to California’s Sonoma/Napa Valley. Sharon and I are making wedding plans and wanted to scout venues! We decided to stay at one of our top picks in Sonoma called Madrona Manor. After arriving into SFO, we hastily made our way to meet with the wedding planor at Madrona after checking in. The setting was beautiful and the room was very nice, complete with homemade chocolate chip cookies — this would be a weekend of hard choices!

After settling in a little bit we changed for a wonderful evening at Cyrus, Healdsburg’s world-renowned restaurant. Unbelievable course after course, we were comfortably full when the stunning desert cart was wheeled over.

The next morning, we arose early for a busy day. After a quick, delicious egg-bake at Madrona we were picked up and headed to our first stop: Chateau St. Jean. A converted 1930’s home, the grounds were elegant and reminded us of French gardens. After a brief wine-tasting and shipment to NYC, we moved on to the next winery:


Ledson, right down the road, was a stunning modern castle. The lawns were pristine and the entry hall was a beautiful grand staircase leading up to some of the private tasting rooms. Going around back we saw large tents that would be set up for a private event like our wedding.

We then meandered our way up to Paradise Ridge, on the side of the mountain range — complete with a sculpture garden out front! The scenic view were breathtaking, and were given a very hasty tour. In the basement hall there was an interesting display recalling the history of the area called Fountaingrove.


Hungry from travels, we headed back into Healdsburg for a bite at the always fresh and delicious Ravenous. After lunch, Sharon needed to have her sweet tooth satisfied by walking to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe — a candy store like no other. The walls here are stacked floor-to-ceiling with every cand you could imagine!

Back on the hunt, we went to Bella, a beautiful and unique winery. The tasting rooms are housed in the wine caves hill-side and we took a stroll through, sampling several good vintages.


Last stop of the day was at Preston, an organic farm and winery. A very charming place, Sharon signed up for the wine club after trying some of the hand-crafted looking bottles. In the back, Lou Preston himself poured us some of his jug wine while telling funny stories.

Dinner that evening was at Zazu Restaurant + Farm, in Santa Rosa. With the farm being right outside the restaurant, everything was super fresh and delicious! I really enjoyed the oysters ordered by Sharon’s father as well as the local beer, Blind Pig. What a great 2 day start to the trip!


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