Hi, I'm planning a 2 day, 1 night trip to Sonoma in two weeks, arriving Monday leaving Tuesday. We're supposed to be staying in the Santa Rosa area (finalizing tomorrow). I have read a lot of the threads asking for suggestions on vineyards, etc, and there has been so much wonderful feedback, but I still feel completely overwhelmed with the volume of information, so please bear with me. I would appreciate any suggestions based on the following factors:
- inexperienced wine drinkers. Both my girlfriend and I are novice wine drinkers. We really enjoy wine, but we can't *really* tell the difference between a $10 bottle and a $30 bottle. I prefer pinot noirs, and she enjoys reds in general. So of course, we'd love to learn more about what we're tasting and how to taste them.
- price. As mentioned above, because we're not sophisticated wine drinkers, we don't feel it makes sense to spend a lot on wine. We're more than happy to spend money for a good tasting experience, but not so much about an expensive bottle of wine.
- educational experience. As much fun as a good buzz is, we're would really love to learn more about the process of making wine, the science/educational aspect of growing the grapes, etc. We aren't familiar with visiting vineyards, so we don't know how many do tours or explain the process. We would most like to know of any suggestions for worthwhile tours or experiences like this if they're available. Also, if they are, do they cost extra, or are they included with the tasting fees?
- time. We're not in the area for very long. We would be happy with just visiting between 1-3 vineyards and then spending the rest of the time driving through the area, walking through the towns, basking in the beautiful scenery. I'm sure they're all beautiful in their own way, but would love to know if any also happen to be near worthwhile scenic stops.
From my reading of the boards, it seems like I should be in the RRV for the pinots. I've seen several recommendations for Arista and Benzinger, but wasn't sure if they offered tours that are similar to the kind we're looking for? Places like Artesa or Far Niente look right up our alley, but are unfortunately further from where we are. We would be willing to drive over to Napa if recommended, but would be more than happy to take a RRV (or nearby) equivalent. Sorry for this lengthy post, but I figured I'd be as specific as possible per CH instructions...
Thanks in advance for any recommendations!