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Point Reyes National Seashore

2021-04-19 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Wine tasting in Sonoma County

More research today! In case you missed it, this trip is all about research. We are planning to lead an Airstream caravan, next year, in 2022. It is called California Architecture, Food, and Wine. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory!

Since, shockingly, I don’t know everything about California, Architecture, Food, or Wine, we need to do this research. A tough job, but somebody has to do it!

So we have explored the Point Reyes National Seashore, sampled restaurants, visited RV Parks, and driven the proposed route; today we are wine tasting, and researching more restaurants.

First on our list today is Kosta Browne, in Sebastopol. No rolling hills covered with vineyards here; just an industrial complex full of wine-making equipment. We met our host, who knew who we were, knew what we typically bought, and made us feel like honored guests. He led us on a brief tour of the facility. (We had been here in 2018…). As we tasted the recent vintages we discussed the possibility of bringing 20 people in for a tasting. Many wineries will not or can not handle groups of this size, but K-B was happy to accommodate us. We exchanged contact information and we were on our way.

Next up was Rochiolli Vineyards, in the Russian River Valley. We have been buying wine here for over 20 years. HERE are the hills and vineyards…

However, he tasting was fairly perfunctory… We tasted a sampling of their cheapest, most common wines, and there was no personal touch. Great wines, but not much more.

We moved on to MacRostie Vineyards. Again, a beautiful view and a beautiful building.

We enjoyed a fun tasting, exploring some wine we had not yet tasted. (We left with a case…) We discussed the caravan and we look forward to bring the caravan here next year.

Our final tasting was at Williams Selyem. Again, a beautiful place; in the past we had done the tasting in their extravagant “Tasting Palace”; today we were escorted to the owner’s house! It is a spectacular, simple two bedroom house overlooking the property. (Sorry – no pictures!) We sat at the dining table, with the retracting glass wall open to the view. Our host, again, knew everything about our wine preferences, and he knew that we starting buying W-S wines in 1999 (after being on the waiting list for almost 5 years…). We discussed the caravan and I’m sure we can work out a tasting for the group here.

By now we were ready for dinner. We drove to Petaluma and looked at a few places. We settled on Speakeasy, which is exactly what a speakeasy generally is not… We sat outdoors on their patio; in the adjacent courtyard there was a local band that played covers from Crosby Stills and Nash, Credence Clearwater Revival, and others.

Music was great and food was traditional (she had a burger and fries, I had braised short-ribs in blue cheese risotto). We’re not sure we will take 20 people here, but there are other options in the neighborhood.

We walked back to the truck, stopped off for gas, and headed back to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-18 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Lodi to Forestville and Beyond

Sunday morning we left the Van Ruiten Winery as the sun was rising. Again, we drove east for about two hours to finally reach Forestville, a very small town along the Russian River in Sonoma County. The countryside is beautiful at this time of day. We easily found the Riverbend RV Resort. We had arranged early check-in, so we were in our spot, unhitched, and set up in no time.

We then headed back south to Petaluma, where we looked at the Petaluma KOA to see if it was a better fit for the caravan than Riverbend. It is a very large KOA, with varied sites and many amenities.

Then we were off again, setting the GPS to the town of Olema. Olema is in the heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay State Park. Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast expanse of protected coastline in Marin County. Beaches here include Wildcat Beach, with the cliffside Alamere Falls. On a rocky headland, the 1870 Point Reyes Lighthouse is a viewpoint for migrating gray whales. The Phillip Burton Wilderness features extensive trails through grassland, firs and pine forest, and up to the peak of Mount Wittenberg.

Tomales Bay State Park is approximately 2,000 acres, divided between two areas, one on the west side of Tomales Bay and the other on the east side. The main area, on the west, is part of the Point Reyes peninsula, and is adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Tule elk once inhabited the grasslands of the Point Reyes peninsula and the Olema Valley, as well as other grasslands within Marin County. They were the dominant grazers on these lands until their local extirpation (local extinction) in the 1850s. State and Federal legislation in the early 1970s authorized the California Department of Fish and Game, in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, to reintroduce the extirpated Tule elk to Tomales Point.

Eleven tan-colored male elk standing with the ocean in the background.

Point Reyes National Seashore remains the only National Park unit where Tule elk can be found. The majestic animals you see as you travel through the park embody the restoration of the dominant native herbivore to the California coastal ecosystem. They shape the landscape around them as they did for centuries before they were extirpated by humans. They symbolize the conservation of native species and ecosystem processes, one of the primary missions of the National Park Service.

We didn’t see any elk today, but we remember seeing them when we passed through here in 1977. Today we proceeded north along Highway 1, which hugs the eastern shore of the bay. The shoreline is dotted with a few small ramshackle houses and restaurants, located at the water’s edge. Thanks to the California Coastal Commission, enacted in 1972, this shoreline has remained virtually unchanged and undeveloped. Without the Coastal Commission we suppose this area would be lined with hotels and McMansions, and the bay itself would be totally obstructed, much like we see in places in Florida today…

We stopped at Tony’s Seafood for a light lunch. Oysters are a specialty all along the bay.

We continues north, enjoying the scenic drive. We passed through the tiny hamlets of Marshall, Nick’s Cove, and, well, Hamlet.

We returned to the Villa for a brief break, then we drove north to the town of Healdsburg.

We checked out a few restaurants, settling on Rooftop. There was a short wait, so we walked around the delightful downtown area. After receiving a test message that our table was ready we quickly returned.

Rooftop is located atop a small hotel. The exterior deck is wonderful…

The food was great. The menu is short, but it listed very innovative and creative food. After a leisurely meal we returned to the Villa; an enjoyable time was had by all.

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