After cancelling a 2 month Airstream trip (Springtime in the Rockies Caravan plus travel to the Airstream International Rally (or convention) in Salem, Oregon), we were looking for an excuse to do other shorter excursions. We had been toying with extending the return trip from Salem into another Wine Tasting Caravan along the California Coast. This all came to fruition when another opportunity arose: One of our favorite wineries, J. Rochioli Vineyard & Winery, invited us to their “Single Vineyard Celebration”. This is an annual event wherein they offer wine tasting of their best wines along with fabulous food by the famous chef, Charlie Palmer. Since we were able to take the time, we jumped at the opportunity!
The winery is located in the Russian River Valley of western Sonoma County, California, about 70 miles north of San Francisco. We planned a quick trip north, two days of wine tasting, and a quick trip back home.
This being the first time we were leaving from our new home in Redlands, we relished the thought of being able to travel north without having to drive through the heart of Los Angeles. I’m very comfortable driving in LA, but we have done it so often that we were happy to be able to drive where we have never, or rarely, driven before.
We left bright and early on Friday, June 15; we drove up and over Cajon Pass; at an elevation of 3,776′, it was the last obstacle of the 19 century pioneers and dust bowl refugees before they left the desert behind and descended into the beauty of Southern California. Today it is all modern freeway, and most autos handle it without a thought…
Out destination today was Lodi, made famous by Creedence Clearwater Revival:
Just about a year ago
I set out on the road
Seekin’ my fame and fortune
Lookin’ for a pot of gold
Thing got bad things got worse
I guess you will know the tune
Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again
Apparently the author had never been to Lodi, but the town name fit the music, much like Williams, Arizona in another famous song ( and blog post) …
As I said, we drove over the Cajon Pass, then we headed west towards Palmdale and Lancaster, eventually reaching Bakersfield and continuing north along old Hwy 99, though the Central Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. More than 230 crops are grown here. On less than 1 percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces 8 percent of the nation’s agricultural output. Our stops were brief, mostly for fuel:
We arrived at our “camping spot” at just about 4:30. This is later than normal for us, but, like I said, we were trying to make time. We took advantage of our Harvest Host membership and parked in the vineyards of Van Ruiten Family Winery. We did a little wine tasting, bought a little wine, checked Yelp for nearby restaurants, and hailed Uber for a short ride to dinner.
After dinner we walked the 2.7 miles back to the Airstream and turned in for the night…
Saturday morning we were up, out, and about quite early. After stopping at Starbucks for a quick fix we headed west on Hwy 12, through Rio Vista, Fairfield, Napa, and on into Sonoma County. Once we were in the Russian River Valley we easily found River Bend RV Resort:
Luckily our site was vacant, and they let us check in early. We quickly set up and checked out the park. The RV sites and the Tenting sites leave something to be desired, but the river was beautiful!
Today our big event is the Rochioli Single Vineyard Celebration! We drove through the forest until the vineyards appeared.
We were welcomed to the party with Rochioli Sparking Rose’, and then we heard chef Charlie Palmer explain some of the food offerings. We made our way through the tasting room and into a large courtyard adjacent to the winery, where we found a table in the shade.
We spent the entire afternoon there, listening to the live band, meeting other Rochioli folks, and, of course, tasting many great wines and having some wonderful food! Of course, the surroundings were great!
On Sunday we set out to research tasting opportunities to share with others on the 2018 WBCCI Wine Tasting Caravan. We visited Woodenhead – very rustic,, quiet, and simple.
Then on to Williams Selyem… Not just a tasting room, or even a tasting salon, but a genuine tasting palace! Very relaxed, personal, and spectacular wines…
Next was MacRosties. Very formal (they asked if we had reservations), with individual tables, servers, menus… all in a very nice room:
Three very different experiences, all fun!
Monday was our return trip – reversing course through Sonoma, across the 12 to the 99, then down to Bakersfield for the night; Tuesday we were home.
And an enjoyable time was had by all…