By: Trish Wesevich
Several years ago, I participated in a Napa Valley Bike Tour afternoon and it turned into my favorite way to explore the popular wine country. This time, because I had never been to Sonoma, I asked Kellie Macway of Napa Valley Bike Tours to set me up again but this time in Sonoma Valley. I also asked her for suggestions on which winery would she recommend I visit–given my criteria of a beautiful spot, great wine and friendly people. As always, her plan was perfect. Picture perfect in fact– and full of some nice surprises and nice people to meet along the way.
My husband and I really enjoy cycling so we started off on our own 10-12- mile ride thru the vineyards before arriving at Scribe Winery, where we were scheduled to taste four of their spectacular wines. It was a little warm that day, in the upper 80s, but not too bad coming from Texas where riding thru the vineyards this time of year would be unbearable. Scribe is only about 2 miles from the Sonoma Valley Bike Tour Company rental shop so if you weren’t up to riding too much beforehand you could be there in about 10-15 minutes.
The long ride up the property to the tasting room and past the old, abandoned hacienda was breathtaking. Palm trees line the route and you can almost picture that you are riding up to the Hotel California where things are going to get strange quickly. Instead, the tasting area is spread out on a peaceful and lush lawn with incredible views of the vineyards and valley beyond. Scribe is definitely a destination winery. Reservations are required and they only serve tastings to small groups. The property backs up to some woods and was originally a turkey farm. Fox, coyote, bobcat and deer have been spotted on the property and the sounds of the birds, woodpeckers and the numerous fluttering butterflies all make wine tasting here, after a long bike ride, a very relaxing experience.
The wines we tasted were excellent and included the Sylvaner, Riesling, Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. We were served a nice tasting of nuts, olives, local cheeses and fresh, juicy apricots. The stone fruit paired perfectly with the white wines available for tasting that day. We relaxed at the picnic tables under the huge oak trees until we were fully rested and ready to get on our bikes again. Don’t let the hand-written, rustic Scribe Winery sign fool you…..top-rated wines are made and sold here and this winery, along with its vineyards and interesting architectural buildings, is well-worth spending an afternoon.
From there we rode north to the Sonoma Best grocery and deli. This charming spot held lots of surprises for us. We met Gail Bickett, the cheese purveyor, whose selection of fine, local cheeses was world-class. Gail was very proud of the selections she’s collected and wanted to make sure we got to try a few. Her passion for cheese was refreshing and she took great lengths to display her choices very artistically. The deli offered delicious hot and cold gourmet sandwiches, salads and soups, which hit the spot since were famished after riding so far. We met the owners, Gayle and Tom Jenkins, and a local winemaker Vic McWilliams, who also came in for a glass of afternoon wine. Here at Sonoma’s Best you can taste several wines for a very reasonable price or you can just enjoy wine by the glass. We knew we’d discovered the “hip spot” when we saw Lady Gaga & Elizabeth Gilbert‘s photos up on the wall as they had both recently visited Sonoma Best grocery & deli. Everyone was extremely friendly and eager to introduce themselves to us wanting to know where we were visiting from.
Behind the deli are four romantic guest cottages fully equipped with kitchens and a living area. These accommodations are conveniently located to the main square in Sonoma as well as some of the most popular wineries in the valley. They are surrounded by gardens and have their own grilling areas.
Back on our bikes again we decided one more winery was in order and so we rode straight up the hill a short distance to Ravenswood Winery. Their tasting room is very nice and quaint and of course the wine is good. This winery, even though it produces wines on a large-scale, seems small and approachable and is tucked away in a quiet, wooded neighborhood.
We crossed the square in Sonoma again and headed back to the bike rental place. Cycling thru Sonoma Valley and the surrounding vineyards is definitely the way to go. I wouldn’t want to visit this beautiful area any other way.