While soaking in the glorious surroundings of Stellenbosch last week, it was impossible not to notice the similarities to another region, 10,000 miles away, that is also famous for its wine. So in a first #tbt post, I’ll share with you some of the highlights of a trip we took last year to Sonoma Valley, California.
We traveled to Sonoma to spend Thanksgiving with Spencer’s extended family. We all stayed in a huge, rambling ranch house that had lots of activities and somehow a big enough table to sit all of us for Thanksgiving dinner. The house was at the end of a long country road outside of the villages of Kenwood and Glen Ellen. It backed up to a park, and a short hike up a hill offered stunning views of the whole valley.
The vines in Stellenbosch in March were emerald green and bursting with red grapes ready to be picked. Sonoma in fall had a different palate of yellow and burnt orange and olive green. But the quilt of golden vineyards stitched across the rolling hills made for a beautiful backdrop for Thanksgiving.
We visited three wineries in the area. The first was B.R. Cohn, right down the road from where we stayed. The homey and cosy tasting room had a nice atmosphere, and on the property there is also an adorable little shop that offers tasting of the estate olive oils. The winery is also notable for being named after and owned by the manager of the Doobie Brothers.
The second was my favorite, Kunde Family Winery. It has a large and a bit noisy tasting room, but the staff were very knowledgable and friendly. The estate is set on the side of its own hill, and offers mountain-top tastings and tours of the wine caves. The wines here were delicious, and I highly recommend visiting if you’re in the Sonoma Valley.
Lastly, we went to Chateau St. Jean. The estate has an actual spanish-style chateau and english garden to wander about. The place had a bit more of a corporate feel to it, but good wines nevertheless.
California wine country in Sonoma Valley and the Cape Wine lands around Stellenbosch have so much in common. They are both laid out on rolling hills with rows and rows of twisting vines; both have a the perfect, temperate year-round climate; and the small towns in both boast a rustic-yet-affluent feel.
I would very happily live in either of these places. If anyone knows of positions for GIS experts or national security analysts in these regions, we will be accepting job offers all year.