Had myself a culinary sandwich today: two great meals wrapped around wine tasting at five Sonoma wineries.
Won't go into too much detail on each place because most get mentioned a lot, but I did want to ask if anyone has had experience with the Valley of the Moon Winery.
We stopped in because it looked lovely, but were so disappointed by a few wines (Sangiovese, Barbera, a Cabernet, and a Zinfandel) that we left pretty quickly. I admit we didn't bother to shell out $2 for their reserve wines, but the quality of their under $20 bottles was so poor we didn't want to bother. Are we missing out on something or is this winery just sub par?
Girl and Fig: beautiful, charming restaurant, and good food. Service is relaxed and friendly, portion sizes aren't bad, and the patio is lovely.
Benziger: I love this place more and more. They're really increasing the range, quality, and quantity of their biodynamic production (largest in the US, they tell me). Service in the reserve room is never short of perfect, and I noticed this time that the quality of the white wines is noticeably better this year. Notable whites: 2004 Sauvingnon Blanc, 2003 Reserve Chardonnay. There wasn't a single reserve or biodynamic wine I didn't like, but personal taste will dictate what each person's favorite is.
Imagery: the little sibling of Benziger, with dramatically smaller output. I would rather spend my money at Benziger, but was impressed by Imagery's Lagrein and Muscato (not available at Benziger).
Ravenswood: stopped in out of curiosity because Melanie mentioned a Zinfandel opening, but it was much too crowded for our tastes. We did chat with an employee and made a note to come back for reserve zinfandels and use of the picnic grounds.
Gloria Ferrer: Charming and beautiful! A nice place to finish the day, rest our feet, and sip some bubbly. The Sonoma Brut is a great value at $18, and only slightly less sweet than the $38 Royal Cuvee. In a blind taste test the Cuvee would win for me, but with the price difference thrown in I lean toward the Sonoma. My tastebuds had to work really hard to decide which I liked better, so I'd just as soon let my wallet make the decision.
Dinner at Spices 1: really crowded, wonderful smells, wonderful food. This place is still going strong, and is slowly edging out Spices II in my heart. The dishes are more out of the ordinary, which I love. The deep fried stinky tofu is one of the best I've had in the US.
But PLEASE, someone tell me more about Valley of the Moon! Web searches for reviews and opinions yielded almost nothing.