This past week I’ve been in Northern California country, on my own, without Lulu. It’s the first time in months that I got on a plane without my 4-year old traveling companion. I’m here for a Travel Writers’ Conference at Book Passage, the incredible bookstore in Marin County. It’s been non-stop learning and loving the craft of writing.
The kick-off to the conference was a day trip to Sonoma with Don George, co-chair of the conference who has a long, impressive career in travel writing. We began the day in the actual town. A wild-west-looking outpost at some moments, at others it struck me as quaint, appealing, and exactly what I picture when I think of an old Californian town– one steeped in history from our country’s gold rush years, along with influences from Spanish culture.
It’s a lovely place to visit, with charming inns, enticing restaurants and shops, and of course, dozens of places to taste wine. Along with a friend from the group, I stopped at the charming Sonoma Hotel, where we were told Maya Angelou had once booked a room in which she wrote part of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We stumbled upon a chic yet rustic bed & breakfast, A Inn 2 Remember, whose decor and charm knocked us off our feet and guaranteed our return for another stay. The outlets for hospitality here– hotels, inns, restaurants, cafes, tasting rooms– beg for return, each is so enticing in their décor and sensibility.
The reason I wanted to travel to Sonoma however was the same reason most come here: the vineyards.
Don took us to Cline Cellars, a vineyard in Carneros Valley. The visit exceeded expectations. Under bright blue skies, our guide, Mike Alberigi, walked us through the property. He was extremely knowledgable and charismatic and his passion for his work had us all enthusiastic about the vineyard’s story, as well as its incredible wines.
The vineyards were gorgeous, highlighted by colorful landscaping, flowing ponds, and other areas of interest, including a museum that housed miniature versions of old California missions. It all ended the best way possible– with rounds of tastings of their sumptuous wines! I could not have asked for a better way to spend the day, the perfect way to start our stay. Without a doubt, I will return one day soon– this time, with Lulu in tow.