Thanks Chowhounds (and especially you, Melanie)!!!
Just got back from a 3-night stay in the Russian River with my wife and our pugs. Due to Melanie's wine suggestions, we had a great Saturday of tasting and touring. We started at Swan to pick up a previous order, we love his Pinots, although the fruitfly horde in the tasting room could have been missed. After this, up to Rochioli and Hop Kiln - love Rochioli's vineyard designates but unfortunately, none were available, although the views made it worth the stop alone. Hop Kiln was a very nice place - a historical landmark. We werent the biggest fans of their wines (except the Reserve Cab) but loved their mustards and hot sauces. From here we trekked up to David Coffaro - what a great call, Melanie! We tasted through about 12 different barrel samples and ordered 2 cases of the 2000s on futures. Very nice, open place with quite an A/V hookup!! On the way back to Guerneville, we stopped at Porter Creek (or Preston Creek - I forgot)to try the Pinot, but it wasnt my style. All in all, a great trip through an area we had not been before. Thanks for all the tips.
For our dinners, TH was at the cottage, FRI at River's End in Jenner (Great clams, oysters, and elk - nice wine list, too- had a 98 W H Smith Hellenthal Pinot that was great), and SAT was at the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville. We originally had a reservation at Mariposa, but when we saw the menu posted at Joseph Swan (coupled with the drastically reduced driving time) we opted for the Farmhouse. Very quaint and charming - food was excellent - my wife had a seed-encrusted Salmon and I had the Rabbit prepared 3 ways. One caveat is the wine list is small and not weighted to the highest quality - definitely a BYOW place, and as corkage is only $7.50, it's a no brainer.
Well, that was our quick weekend away - thanks again for all the suggestions, they were indispensable.
Thanks a bunch for reporting back. I think it was Vanessa who first mentioned David Coffaro. I've been buying his wines since the 94 vintage, always purchased on futures, and haven't had a clunker yet. He manages to make good juice even in difficult vintages. Of the 2000s in barrel, I was particularly taken by the Syrah (from my pals, the Simpsons, vineyard on Canyon Road) and the Cab Franc.
I'm glad you enjoyed the Farmhouse. As you say, it's cozy and charming, and I think the food quality is above the price level and setting. I agree with you that the wine list is not up to par for the appellation. But this makes it a favorite place to BYO special bottles.
Just read your post below about wanting a Top Dog. Drop by some time, and you'll be shocked by the growth of the menu. I remember only about 5 or 6 dogs in the early 80s, but now there are things even Bruce Aidells could not imagine. Had one at the Durant location this past Winter, but it didn't taste quite as nourishing when I wasn't spending the last dollar in my pocket...