Staying in Cazadero...what to do?
Hi all! I'm very excited to be taking my first trip to the Russian River area in May! But having done a bit of research, I'm curious as to what wineries to visit... It seems that some offer great wine, but have no tasting room. Others are pretentious....which isn't appealing. Anyway, I'll keep doing my research, but any tips you could give on wine (or dinner, activities, etc...) would be greatly appreciated!
The Sonoma coastal ridge is home to some of the best pinot noir vineyards. But finding wineries up there that offer tastings can be a challenge. Many of the wineries producing Sonoma Coast pinots have their tasting rooms far from the ridge vineyards, and the wineries that are up there are small and don't typically offer walk-in tasting rooms. But if you do some research you should be able to arrange for tastings. This recent article might give you some leads on wineries to call: The Sonoma Coast: Pinot Noir's New Frontier http://www.winereviewonline.com/Ed_Mc...
Years ago I was staying with a friend in Cazadero and we arranged a tasting at a small, small winery that was a few miles off the Fort Ross Rd. It took forever to get there. But the experience was memorable. It was a family operation with very limited production that had both pinots and zins, and the zins were actually the most memorable as they were entirely different from other zins I've had before or since. Light, crisp, low alcohol with a nice bright fruit. I usually like a much bigger, meatier zin, but the cool coastal climate produced something really exceptional. And of course, my failing memory cannot come up with the name of the winery. Oi. Point is, its worth it to line up a few private tastings if you really like the light, delicate effect of the cool coastal climate there.
Raymond's is great, I especially love their baquettes, but it's certainly not the only chow-worthy place in the area. I'm not familiar with Cazadero itself, but there's great chow in nearby Duncan's Mills, Guerneville, Occidental, and Monte Rio.
In Duncan's Mills, there's Cape Fear Cafe. I've only been there for brunch and lunch, and the draw for brunch is the benedicts with grits instead of an English muffin. Everything I've tried has been really good.
In Guerneville there is Cafe les Jumelles. (It just moved from Monte Rio to Guerneville, and those of us who live in Monte Rio are crying the blues!) It's just a coffee shop really, but with the absolute best versions of the standards I've ever had! They only make benedicts for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and they are excellent with house-made hollandaise (but on regular English muffins). The corned beef hash is also house-made and just incredible. Salads are super-fresh and all the dressings are made in house. Burgers are to die for, and guess what? House-made buns. Dinners are also great - generally simple cooking done very well. I still think about a chicken quarter (leg - thigh quarter, my favorite part) braised in red wine with a crispy potato cake. For high end in Guerneville, there is Applewood Inn. I had the best duck breast of my life there, and a blood orange creme brulee that was amazing. On the way to the bathroom, you can watch what's going on in the kitchen through a large glass window. Oh yea, and the Russian River Pub is know for the best Buffalo wings around. I don't generally like Buffalo wings too much, but whenever I hear "the best" I have to try, and I liked them a lot.
In Occidental, you can have a super breakfast or lunch at Howard Street Station. I like Cafe les Jumelles a little better but Howard Street is very popular. Bistro des Copains is a friendly little local spot that makes classic French bistro food very well. There's always a selection of the freshest oysters at reasonable prices.
In Monte Rio, we are sorry to have lost Cafe les Jumelles, but try to console ourselves at Don's Dogs. They just have the hot dogs and a few breakfast items, but they are just such good hot dogs! Finally, stop by Sophie's Cellars in Monte Rio. You can also get bread from Raymond's there, and there's a wonderful selection of cheeses and other deli items. And John knows more about local wine than anyone I know. There are a number of local restaurants (Including Cafe les Jumelles, Applewood Inn and Bistro des Copains) that will waive corkage on the first bottle you buy from Sophie's.
Do report back to us!
Raymond's is the only chow-worthy destination I've found in that area. Best to rent a place with a kitchen and bring your own groceries. We usually pick up a few things at Food for Humans but the pickings are slim.
Cazadero's about 40-45 minutes on winding roads from the edge of the Sonoma wine country. For a wine-tasting holiday, I wouldn't stay west of Forestville. For a holiday in Cazadero, I'd plan wine tasting only on the way there and on the way home.
5400 Cazadero Hwy, Cazadero, CA
Food For Humans
16385 1st St, Guerneville, CA
Friday is pizza night at Raymond's, they serve until 9 and have live music. Major local scene, outdoor seating filled up around 6. Tasty pizza, reminded me of Cheese Board / Arizmendi but more bready, less crackery, loaded up with toppings so kind of sloppy, reheats well. Cheap corkage.