Instead, I'll share my favorite spots with you and immediately begin planning my next visit there to explore more. First up, Tim Zahner of Inside Sonoma mapped a great drive for me from SFO to Healdsburg. I couldn't fit all of his recommendations in, but everything I did was great, so I'm sharing the full itinerary with you here.
Stop 1: Vista Point at the Golden Gate Bridge
I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge from the city and I've driven over it in a taxi from the airport, but somehow I'd missed that you can get out and take in the full view at Vista Point. It's an amazing panoramic view from the Sausalito side that spans Alcatraz, the city and the bridge. Definitely a spot for a photo op, which of course, I did:
|Me at Vista Point|
Stop 2: Della Fattoria in Petaluma
Petaluma is a great first stop for lunch. A) It's adorable and feels like you're starting to be in wine country rather than San Francisco and B) It's home to Della Fattoria.
Upon Foursquare check-in, I realized I was in a bakery mecca. But I was craving a salad. Compromise? A panzanella salad featuring local asparagus that rocked my world:
|Panzanella Salad at Della Fattoria in Petaluma|
The sandwiches and baked goods looked fantastic as well, but I took a quick walk around downtown because next on my list was...
Stop 3: Screamin' Mimis in Sebastopol
Tim told me I had to get the affogato (espresso plus ice cream) at Screamin' Mimis and I convinced myself that I needed the caffeine to adjust to the Pacific time zone. What I didn't count on was that they would also have local strawberry ice cream. Clearly, I had to get both. Don't judge.
|Affogato and Local Strawberry Ice Cream from Screamin' Mimis|
After that, Tim recommended wine. Now, I had to get to work (the impetus for the whole trip was that I was working the weekend) so I had to peel off at this point and meet colleagues. But I'll share the rest of his recommendations below in case you can do the full road trip.
Stop 4: The Barlow in Sebastopol
I did drive around The Barlow, which is this cool new compound of food and wine shops. There was a coffee shop, a wine shop and more coming. Definitely something to include if you're near Sebastopol!
Stop 5: Balletto Vineyards in Sonoma
When visiting Balletto, Tim recommends the pinot noir rose and finding the field of dreams... I'm intrigued and will be back.
Stop 6: DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa
Tim recommends trying the pinots and chardonnays at this Russian River Valley vineyard and tasting room.
I heard great things about these two, especially the bubbly tasting at J. Another must do if you're nearby.
Stop 9: Bear Republic Brewpub in Healdsburg
After three wine tastings, you'll need some grub. Bear River came highly recommended from the locals - also, doing a beer tasting in the Healdsburg area is another day idea - there were several breweries that sound great.
If you want to see all of the recommendations from my northern California wine country Google map, click here. Did I miss any of your favorites? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me @tammy.