The pond and picnic areas at Kunde
Pascual and the picnic bags at Kendall-Jackson
The front of Kandall-Jackson. The gardens are beautiful. Juanito and Laurita
Chateau St. Jean
Pascual's famous Paella was even better cooked over a campfire
Caught unexpectedly washing the dishes
The proud chef posing with his creation. Top Chef, here he comes!
The Spanish, Mexican, American delegation on the third bottle of wine after setting up camp.
I have spent all my life camping for vacations. Those who know my dad know what an outdoorsman he is. Most of my family vacations as a kid were camping trips. We usually had a few friends with us... We would run through the hills howling like coyotes, shooting BB guns, following streams up and downriver to discover cool ponds and swimming holes. I think that is where I get my love of nature and the mountains... I automatically relax as soon as I see trees and hills.
Pascual and I went camping this weekend in Sonoma with our friends Juan and Laura. This is the first camping trip we have taken without kids. It was great because we went wine tasting in Santa Rosa and Sonoma... man... I think I will never go to Napa Valley again. Sonoma is much more laid back. The wineries all have great picnic spots, and they don't require you to purchase the stuff in their deli. The prices on the wines are cheaper, and the country is beautiful like the Silverado Trail side of Napa Valley. It was 1/2 hour past Infineon Raceway.... We went to Franciscan, Hook & Ladder, Chateau St. Jean, Blackstone, Kendall-Jackson, Kunde, Martenelli, V-Sattui, Robert Mondavi and Niebaum Coppola. We didn't taste at the last 3 (all in Napa Valley) but we bought some picnic stuff and had a nice picnic at V. Sattui, one of the only places to picnic at in Napa... (as long as you buy food in their deli) Kendall Jackson has lovely gazebos in the garden for picnics, and Kunde has a lovely picnic area by a pond under big oak trees. Chateau St. Jean is BEAUTIFUL and I could have spent the whole afternoon there. They have a deli and nice picnic grounds as well...
On Sunday, we took Trinity Road over to Napa. went up highway 29, had a picnic at V. Sattui and then drove up 29 to Petrefied Forest Road and took it back over to highway 12 in Santa Rosa. We wound up back at camp, drank a bottle of wine and then packed up and headed home... Aside from some harassment from the Park Ranger (we are convinced she didn't like Mexicans) the place we camped was really awesome. There are no showers though, and a longer trip would have been difficult without showers... As it was, washing in the faucet outside made me feel like a pioneer... Pascual said we smelled like Gypsies... when I asked what he meant, he said, "They smell like woodsmoke from outdoor fires...." I keep forgetting that his European references are so different from ours... I have never been that close to a rural Gypsy to really know... I did go to a Flamenco show in Madrid that was full of gypsy men, but they were all sharply dressed and incredibly beautiful men... I didn't notice any woodsmoke smell, but then I was too enamoured over how beautiful they all were, and was mesmerized with their incredible dancing...
Anyway... Sonoma county is AWESOME... If you have never been, be sure to go there FIRST before going to Napa. I love Napa, don't get me wrong, but I think I am loving Sonoma more now...!