by Cathy Gore
Sonoma Valley is home to an amazing array of experiences for visitors and locals alike. Recently my daughter and I were privileged recipients of just a taste of some of the riches that our home town has to offer. The 11th Annual Sonoma Valley Film Festival sponsored an intimate tour of Sonoma Valley designed to entice visitors to get the most out of what our beautiful valley has to offer and emphasizing that attending the film festival April 9-13, 2008 can be the ultimate Wine Country vacation.
The luxurious Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa was home base for the tour. The inn offers everything a visitor could hope for and the spa is an experience not to be missed. The courteous, professional staff ensures the ultimate spa experience that includes their signature bathing ritual in addition to their full-service spa treatments.
California Wine Tours transported us in comfort to our destinations complete with a knowledgeable driver that was more than happy to answer a myriad of questions. One of those destinations was Kunde Estate Winery; a family owned and operated winery for more than 100 years that practices sustainable winegrowing. Jeff Kunde led us on an educational eco-hike of their volcanic 1,850-acre estate that features seven different microclimates planted with 18 varieties of wine grapes. The hike culminated with a hilltop wine tasting that was the perfect ending to a hike filled with breathtaking views.
Landmark Vineyards was our next host. We were greeted by owner Michael Colhoun offering us his 2005 Overlook Chardonnay and were treated to a delightful winemaker lunch with Michael and we were also joined by his wife, Mary. Landmark's mission is "to make great wines that enhance the joy of life" and they appear to have attained that goal.
That evening we were guests of the vivacious Alis Arrowood at the hillside winery modeled after a New England farmhouse, Arrowood Vineyards and Winery. Guest chef, Preston Dishman of The General's Daughter, indulged us in a delectable five-course dinner perfectly paired with seven outstanding wines from the Arrowood selection. The food, the wine and the atmosphere made for an unforgettable evening.
These are just a few of the experiences that the Sonoma Valley provides for its visitors, whether they are from across the country or down the street! The options are never-ending. A picnic in the park, a bike ride through the vineyards, an evening at the local farmers' market, a walking tour of the historic town square, a Shakespearean play at a local winery are just a few of options open to you. Make Sonoma Valley your next vacation spot and see what you can come up with!
The Sonoma Valley Film Festival is an annual celebration of film, food and wine that truly captures the Wine Country spirit. Attendees enjoy the Cinema Epicuriaâ„¢ experience by having the films paired with wine and food curated by the world's only film festival sommelier, Christopher Sawyer. For more information on the festival as well as purchasing passes, visit them online at www.SonomaFilmFest.org or call (707) 933-2600.