Last Friday friends from New Orleans visited and gave us the perfect excuse to get on the road with a picnic basket full of food. With choices like a day at Bodega Bay, a hike in Armstrong Redwoods near the Russian River, a trip into the past at the Petaluma Adobe, or heading north for some wine tasting, there was no way to have a bad day.
Our guests chose the wine tasting tour, so we headed for the Dry Creek valley, one of our favorite places to taste wine, although there are hundreds of wineries within driving distance. One stop was at the Hop Kiln Winery which is housed in a historic old hop kiln. Inside on the stone walls there are photos from the turn of the century showing hops pickers harvesting the hops from the tall vines. Later those hops were toasted in the kilns and used to flavor beer. Now there are no commercial hops in the valley, but lots of wine grape vines. At this time of year the vines are just starting to leaf out and you can still see the twisting of the old vines.
Our favorite winery to eat lunch at is Armida Winery. You drive up a steep and twisting drive, past two ponds and a bocce ball court. The winery is in a geodesic dome building. They concentrate on reds, so we purchased a nice Zinfandel to go with the picnic. They provide glasses and a wonderful deck with comfortable tables and chairs and red market umbrellas. The view over the valley is wonderful. We nibbled, drank wine, had long rambling conversations and nibbled some more. I'm telling you this while risking the possibility that Armida will become so popular that there will be no tables available when we visit. We already have trouble getting to play bocce ball. Oh well, it really is a great picnic spot.
A favorite picnic for this type of trip includes a selection of crackers, cheeses, salami, nuts, fruits, crudites, and some chocolate.
This time I made sure to include an artisan baguette from The Village Bakery in Sebastopol and some Humboldt Fog goat cheese. The bread, sliced fairly thin, makes a nice base for the tangy cheese. Both are made locally. They really go well with the Armida Zinfandel. These will make a wonderful addition to the Blog Party Picnic hosted by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness. See you there!