So I was invited to give a talk to the Sonoma County Mycological Association on Thursday night. I spoke to them about my research on fungal diversity in Yosemite National Park. Here is the little blurb about me on their website. There are so many mushroom lovers in the bay area you wouldn’t believe it! In October I spoke at the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz and the Bay Area Mycological Society, and this February I spoke at SOMA. People in the bay area really love their mushrooms, and there are so many truly talented amateur mycologists! While my research isn’t on mushrooms per se, I did my best to make the talk fun and accessible to all and entertaining for the full hour that they gave me.
The people at SOMA were super engaged and asked tons of good questions and it was super fun to speak with them! I was very energized about my project after speaking with the people at SOMA :) However, rather than rush back to the lab thursday night and drive in the dark, I figured that as long as I had made the trek to Santa Rosa to give the talk, I might as well take the day off on friday and enjoy the fruits of Sonoma County on Friday. After all, we wouldn’t have wine without my favorite fungus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is of course responsible for wine, beer, bread, cheese…basically all the good things in life!
The president of SOMA graciously gave me a long list of recommendations for places to wine taste in Sonoma County, which undoubtedly would keep me occupied for many weekend wine tasting adventures. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by my options, I decided to ask the front desk at my hotel and stop at vineyards located on my way home to Berkeley. Being a poor grad student, I ended up going to the vineyards that the hotel gave me free passes for, and I must say; I was not disappointed!
How gorgeous are these vineyards?? Man it was a beautiful day in Sonoma county – not to gloat too much to my friends inundated in snow on the east coast – but you should definitely come visit me here :) I stopped in at Kenwood winery first, as it was the closest to my hotel in Santa Rosa. The people were a bit surprised to see a lone wine taster, but honestly I think it served me well visiting places on my own. I got to talk a lot with the people pouring the wine at the vineyards, got insider information on new places to visit, and probably got more free pours this way :) Here is the friendly wine pourer at the Kenwood winery.
As I pulled out of the Kenwood winery I noticed an olive oil store, so I decided to stop by for a taste.
They had some delicious mushroom themed oils such as truffle oil and porcini oil, which were tasty, but I was actually inspired to buy some delicious balsamic vinegar. Who wants to bring some nice crusty bread to my house and dip it in my balsamic vinegar with me?
The olive oil and vinegar tasting got my taste buds going so I decided to stop for lunch at Cafe Cetti before continuing on to the vineyards. I figured having an entire pizza in my car was a good idea to get me through all the wine stops. And indeed, it served me well throughout the day :)
So after Kenwood I continued on Highway 12 and stopped into Deerfield, which is known for its wine caves. I stopped in and checked out the wine caves, which were super cool! However, it was too crowded and I didn’t have a free coupon, so I stepped out without tasting any wine.
Next I continued on to BR Cohn, which was an absolutely stunning winery with a beautifully situated tasting room up on a slight hill.
So much wine…so little time…
I started off with a Sauvignon blanc, and then continued with the reds that they are famous for. I enjoyed the Barbera and the Cabernet Sauvignon immensely. Don’t they have the cutest glasses there?
I met some nice ladies at BR Cohn who were visiting from Seattle and told me that I had to go to Valley of the Moon winery.
This was definitely my favorite stop in Sonoma. They had absolutely delicious wine and I surprised myself by buying 2 bottles! I bought a Rosato Di Sangiovese and a Pinot blanc. I didn’t even think that I liked a Rose very much, but this one was delicious. The Pinot blanc was also super flavorful and fruity. Now I just need an occasion to drink them! The wine pourer found out that I forage for mushrooms and got super excited. He is starting a kitchen at Valley of the Moon – who knows, maybe one day we will forage together!
My last stop was at Benzinger, which is a biodynamic winery. They compost everything, grow plants that foster pollinators and predators of insect pests, and have goats to eat cover crop and fertilizer with their manure. More wineries should be like them! They had a Sauvignon blanc that was like nothing I’d ever tried before, and of course, I had to buy it :) It was so delightful and flavorful and smelled like flowers and fruit and was just super unique.
I feel pretty accomplished hitting up 4 wineries in a single day, but there are countless more that were recommended to me. I especially hear that Healdsburg and Dry Creek Valley Road are good. Who wants to plan a trip with me :) ?