Song Of Sonoma

November 9, 2010

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! We are loving this trip!!


We meticulously planned the map of the day (we have two of them!) Bocker helped.


First stop was Kendall-Jackson. I am so thankful that Jenna and Almanzo (Adam) have introduced me to KJ Wines. They have totally exceeded expectations of mine (and I have high expectations!)



Holy Hair!

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I thought KJ was a simple household table wine, but what I have learned is that there are so many layers to the brand. From an everyday affordable table wine to the tip-top grape press, KJ makes everything in-between. Definitely exceeded expectations!


We paid a visit to the tasting room –

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And we were graced with a full food & wine pairing today compliments of Almanzo in the most beautiful gazebo setting

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Chef Justin Wangler’s pairings were totally spot on. I highly recommend this tasting for anyone visiting wine country! Justin is from Ashville, NC – my stomping ground!!!


The First Course was Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup with coconut milk. Paired with the 2009 Grande Reserve Sauvignon Blanc along with a Johnny Cake with Trout Roe and Sour Cream paired with the 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chard. A true buttery delight with a crisp finish.


I thought the creamy soup really brought out the spice of the Sauv Blanc, and it was one of my favorite pairings.

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Next up: REDS!




Course Number 2 was a Buckwheat Crepe with Smoked Ham and Bellwether Farms Carmody Cheese. Paired with the 2006 Highland Estates Seco Highlands Pinot Noir. SMOKE + SMOKE = pleasure on the palate!!!


The Sweet Tea Brined Niman Ranch Pork Belly Slider was soaked in southern sweet tea and paired with a cucumber and an herby 2006 Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah. Some said it was their favorite pairing of the day! I loved it, nonetheless.


Pairing #3 was a Korean Style Kobe Beef Lettuce Wrap paired with the 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cab Sauvignon


Tasted like complete leather in a lettuce!!!

My company was top notch – two hot gentleman!!




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We so happened to be able to participate in the cheese course as well…


The best part was the accompaniments that came with each cheese course, and having spoken with Chef Justin, I can vouch that some of these ingredients took hours and hours to prepare.

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The cheeses were stinky, and the accompaniments were impeccable. I think my favorite was the Delice de la Vallee, a cow and goat’s milk blend, paired with candied pomello, which imparted a sweet, bitter, sour taste all in one.


The cheese dessert course included two of my favorites:bleu cheese + walnuts. Paired with a sweet Chard. and a Riesling that I loved. I used to hate sweet wines, but now I 100% appreciate them!


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Desserts anyone? Caramel corn (super sweet + crunchy!) with a Buttermilk Panna Cotta. Both were superb and paired perfectly.

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After we finished up at KJ Wines, we embarked on our tour of the Russian River Valley, perhaps our favorite part of Sonoma.

First stop, Martinelli, as recommended by our wino friends, Stephanie and Evan


I miss my pumpkin oats :(


Pinot Land!!


Recommendation: travel with a bag of pretzels. These were from a gift basket I received from Electrolux for my sponsorship and every pretzel was appreciated!



Bocker enjoyed lots of gourmet honey on this trip!!


Nectar of the Valley – Harvest Moon valley to be specific. Loved their Sonoma Harvest, which reminded me of the rubbery smell of a shoestore and their 2007 Zin that smelled like an antique wardeobe!!




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Probably my favorite thing about Sonoma is how much the landscape changes – even 1 mile along the road! There are nearly 100 microclimates and where one might be cloudy and foggy, another just a few miles away might be sunny and hot. Thus is why there are such diverse wines within just a few miles apart! As well as stunning, lush redwoods within a few miles of desert.






Map navigation! There are SO MANY wineries here. How to choose!? You just have to point a finger and hope for the best. This worked really well when we stumbled upon Porter Creek, which had a Zin that won the New York Times’ Best Zin (it reminded us of fatty fish like sardines!)





And Thomas George’s delicious reds



Lastly, a spontaneous stop into Arista for some amazing Pinots




We ended up doing a farm dinner at Zazu for our evening meal, but in the interlude, Matt wanted to try a brewery. Perfect time for me to get a head start on my blog post!



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A short ride later, dinnertime!





We shared the wine tasting along with the meal – a Chard and a Syrah


Bread Rules


The first course was a goat cheese panna cotta with greens and beets and hazelnuts


Second course was shared with Matt – a huge plate of pasta with giant butter beans and lamb sausage in a tomato sauce

It was incredible!!!!!!


Because we’re celebrating 3 years of marriage on our second honeymoon, we got candles in our dessert!!


Chocolate pot de creme – ganache in a bowl. Incredible!! I didn’t finish the dish if that tells you how rich (good) it was.

Tomorrow’s another day . Again I wish I could just eat greens and fruit, but I have a feeling I’ll need to take advantage of all the senses to experience while I’m here!

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

1 emily November 9, 2010 at 12:54 am

Ack, that all looks fabulous! I don’t know if I’m more jealous of the panna cotta or the “cup of ganache!”


2 Jill November 9, 2010 at 12:55 am

Swing by San Jose and I will whip you up a bowl of pumpkin oats–on the house! :)


3 Allie (Live Laugh Eat) November 9, 2010 at 12:57 am

You’re making me wish I took a day trip to wine country!!! Maybe Bocker and I will plan a trip on our own :)


4 Hannah November 9, 2010 at 12:57 am

I loved smoked flavours too! And cheese… what a wonderful reunion-day with your husband!


5 Christin L. November 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

Ganache in a bowl?! How lovely!!!!


6 Kristin November 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

I love Arista! Beautiful grounds and delicious wines. I recommend checking out Unti. I think you might need to make an appointment but their Rose is simply the best (hopefully they haven’t sold out!). Reds are also super lush and tasty.


7 Hope November 9, 2010 at 1:03 am

Wow, this looks to have been an epic, epic day :)


8 Susan November 9, 2010 at 1:09 am

Glad you made it to Zazu. I like that place a lot. If you don’t have dinner plans tomorrow night, you should check out Mosaic in Forestville. I had one of the best meals of my life out there.

Oh, and you’re in Sonoma County, not the town of Sonoma. :)


9 Amanda (Eating Up) November 9, 2010 at 1:10 am

Ahhh I’m so glad I get to experience this through your blog posts! I look forward to going there myself one day!


10 Michelle (The Runner's Plate) November 9, 2010 at 1:16 am

Wow! I need to go to Sonoma some day soon!


11 J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) November 9, 2010 at 2:23 am

Wow, so many beautiful and delicious tastes! Such a lovely day :)


12 Heidi - apples under my bed November 9, 2010 at 3:08 am

Too much to highlight here – I love so much of it! The pictures of the countryside are just beautiful! I know what you mean, after indulgent days you just want greens but DO take advantage of it while you’re there! You’ll have your pumpkin oatmeal soon :) I’m so jealous of all your amazing eats. Happy 3 year wedding anniversary!
Heidi xo


13 maya @ finding balance in tokyo November 9, 2010 at 3:28 am

That all looks so fantastic. I can’t believe I never made it up to Wine Country for a tasting in all my years living back home!


14 Caitlyn (A Spoonful of Life) November 9, 2010 at 4:06 am

Happy Anniversary! I’m sure the wine tasting is even more enjoyable considering the incredible countryside. Wine tasting in Sonoma is now added to my Bucket List!!


15 Cara Craves... November 9, 2010 at 5:03 am

My word!
Everything looks beautiful and delicious!
You guys are so photogenic.


16 Christie {Honoring Health} November 9, 2010 at 5:41 am

Wow, where to even begin with such an amazing day. I also always thought KJ was just a regular table wine but now I might have to explore it a little further.


17 Lauren at KeepItSweet November 9, 2010 at 5:46 am

that looks like an amazing day!! what a great way to celebrate


18 j November 9, 2010 at 5:58 am

Whew I ‘m exhausted after reading that post! My fave winery is Viansa <3


19 Cailin @ Stir Crazy November 9, 2010 at 6:10 am

I’m drooling over these photos! Between the gorgeous backdrop, the wine and food, it looks like heaven! Looks like a very memorable anniversary trip!


20 Grocery Goddess Jen November 9, 2010 at 6:23 am

So romantic! I love living vicariously through you :)


21 Lauren November 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

This is a dream trip. So glad you guys are enjoying the essence of wine country.


22 jessica @ how sweet November 9, 2010 at 6:50 am

Pumpkin cheese soup?? Incredible.


23 stacey-healthylife November 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

Wow what an amazing day. That tasting at KJ was so well prepared and displayed.


24 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 9, 2010 at 6:57 am

Holy food & wine! That trip looks right up my alley. How nice of Almanzo to coordinate that for you.

Repeat after me: I will make it through 2 more days without pumpkin oats. I will make it through 2 more days without pumpkin oats.


25 Michele @ Healthy Cultivations November 9, 2010 at 7:09 am

The panna cotta looks like bliss in a cup!


26 A Teenage Gourmet (Sami) November 9, 2010 at 7:11 am

Beautiful! But what else is new? 😉


27 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) November 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

Happy Anniversary to you two! What an incredible trip visually and gastronomically! I would say the company is pretty great too!


28 holly @ couchpotatoathlete November 9, 2010 at 7:37 am

You can have my greens and fruit and I’ll switch places with you — we’d love to be in wine country !!!

Enjoy your day!


29 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine November 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

Holy monster post- and everything looks fabulous!! I went to Santa Barbara wine country last year, but clearly Sonoma is where it’s at. Hope you continue to enjoy your anniversary trip!!


30 Felicity November 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

I love how descriptive you are with all of the flavors. I’m craving wine (at 7:52am) now! ; )


31 beth grossman November 9, 2010 at 7:59 am

Wow, it is Eden! So happy for you both. Love wine and food and the lush country there.


32 Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 9, 2010 at 8:03 am

Fabulous! Everything looks fantastic, Kath..the food, the country, the company! It’s a lil getaway foryou two :)


33 td November 9, 2010 at 8:05 am

“Tasted like complete leather in a lettuce”? I’m assuming that’s a bad thing, right? Sometimes I’m not sure what you are trying to say.


34 Kath November 9, 2010 at 9:54 am

A good thing!


35 Maddie (Healthy Maddie) November 9, 2010 at 8:08 am

Sonoma is beautiful. I love the scenery!


36 Krystina November 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

You’re living my DREAM life right now. So beautiful.


37 [email protected] November 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

Oh man!!! What a blast that looks like!!! I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting, and this post just reaffirmed that for me!! lol So glad ya’ll are enjoying your time together :-)


38 Charise November 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

This seems like the perfect wine country day to me – I am jealous! I can’t wait to make it to Sonoma some day!


39 Taylor November 9, 2010 at 8:32 am

Those chocolate pots de creme look AMAZING!


40 Samantha @ Bikini Birthday November 9, 2010 at 8:35 am

Wow, that’s a lot of wineries!
I find touring wineries can be pretty exhausting. It’s unbelievably fun, but by the end of the day I’m ready for a nap.


41 Kelly November 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

You are making me so excited for my trip to Napa in the spring! I know it’s not Sonoma, but close enough :)


42 rebecca lustig November 9, 2010 at 9:12 am

i LOVE learning about food and wine pairings!!

so envious of your adventures in wine country, i’m dying to do a tour.


43 Sarah @ going on goals November 9, 2010 at 9:19 am

I love KJ! So jealous you got to visit the vineyard and do a wine tasting!


44 Danielle November 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

You guys really know how to LIVE!!


45 Sue November 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

I love KJ! I just went to their Heirloom Tomato Festival in September… glad you are having a wonderful time in SF and Sonoma. We are lucky to live here, there’s always so much to do (and eat!)….and I’m loving all of your pictures, makes me feel like it’s the weekend while I’m at work!


46 Claire (Low Impact Fashionista) November 9, 2010 at 9:36 am

Holy FOOD. Haha. I Love all your beautiful pictures of wine country- that new lens must be treating you well :)


47 Thealogian November 9, 2010 at 9:42 am

I rarely comment, but I just have to say: superb post! The photography, the observations of the tastes, smells and sensations and of course, the enviable day in Sonoma! Thank you for sharing, I have something to fantasize about doing one day soon myself now!


48 Felicia (a taste of health with balance) November 9, 2010 at 9:46 am

Definitely take advantage !! Greens and fruits will always be there (but I know exactly how you feel..) What a beautiful time to be in the wine country, enjoy every moment! It’ll be so nice to reflect back on the blog years from now :) Have fun!


49 alana (at) the food November 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

i really appreciate yours and matts zest for life!
keep on keepin on!


50 Lisa Fine - lisasfoods November 9, 2010 at 9:58 am

Absolutely stunning photography, and I’m so impressed by how well you remember everything you tried. (I imagine you had some menus to take with you, and getting a start at the brewery must have helped. I love the idea of getting work down in a brewpub.)

Enjoy Day 2! Can’t wait to read about it…


51 Nic November 9, 2010 at 9:59 am

What a beautiful day! Looks like your dream vacation!


52 Natalia - a side of simple November 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

Gorgeous photos! And I love you in purple, definitely a good color on you :)


53 MonsteRawr November 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

Lovely! And speaking of lovely, totally digging that sweater.


54 Joy November 9, 2010 at 10:20 am

Love, love, love all the pictures you take! It really gives us readers a sense of being there. Now if only we could taste all those treats as well, lol. Sonoma looks especially beautiful this time of year! Being a West Coast transplant on the East Coast, this post makes me pine for my dear ol’ California in the best way!


55 Jessica @ The Process of Healing November 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

Wow, what can you even say about a day like that?! You are one lucky lady!


56 [email protected] November 9, 2010 at 10:36 am

If you get a chance, next time you’re up in NOVA, try LaGrange Winery! We did a wine “tour” for my bachelorette party and it was by FAR the best. Their barrel rooms are beautiful and the house is open for touring, complete with beautiful parlors and sitting rooms with board games. (And they have WiFi, which made it hard to drag the husband out!) We went on a Friday around noon and it was so quiet and serene… and their tasting list is nearly 15 wines!


57 Allison K November 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

I need to turn my husband into a wine drinker, so that he would enjoy going to wine country with me!


58 sharon turner November 9, 2010 at 10:55 am

I am very new to blogging so i have been browsing the internet feverishly looking at many food blogs and I absolutely have enjoyed all your pictures as well as the rest of it!! KJ looks beautiful and I’m glad you are having a fabulous time and enjoying lots of great food and wine!!


59 Lu November 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

I’m so jealous! The wine looks great, but I’m loving the idea of eating cheese course after cheese course now that I’ve seen what you’ve had. Oooooh, and the panna cotta’s look divine. Congratulations on your second honeymoon!


60 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write November 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

Beautiful! Our honeymoon was in San Francisco, but we never made it up to wine country. Have so much fun!


61 Lindsey November 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

Happy anniversary! Don’t worry you’ll get plenty of greens when you go home, wine country’s guilty pleasures are meant to be fully enjoyed 😉


62 Camille November 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Oh my goodness, everything is just gorgeous!
I lived in California for 19 years and I never went to wine country (to be fair, I was under 21 the whole time). It is one of my goals to make it there someday!


63 Lisa @ early morning run November 9, 2010 at 12:03 pm

wow, the pictures are absolutely stunning! Sonoma is definitely on my short list of places to visit and now I’m really eager to go! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!


64 Kelli November 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm

If your husband wants to try anymore breweries look into trying Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa on 4th Street or Ale Works also downtown Santa Rosa. Lagunitas is also very close in Petaluma which is a short drive. I had no idea you were coming to Sonoma County, I hope your trip is going well!


65 Melissa @ For the Love of Health November 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

wow- that looks like an AMAZING trip. My boyfriend and I are wine lovers so I must share this post with him! :-)


66 Lea @ Healthy Coconut November 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Kat, I like your blue top that’s 3/4 length sleeve. Is it from Banana Republic?

What a full day in Sonoma. I am taking notes for my next visit. Arista was recommended by a friend of mine too. Love all the scenic shots and the change of colors in the fields and wineries.


67 Amy K. @ onehealthypeanut November 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Whoa! What a beautiful day! All of the food and wine looked incredible! What a fabulous trip!!


68 Melissa November 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I am not a drinker, but this vacation looks peaceful, fabulous, romantic, and filling. Maybe I need to start drinking! 😉


69 Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess November 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I love Porter Creek! So glad you guys went there, and then told the world about it! All of their stuff is organic and biodynamic, and they grow some really interesting varietals.

Gorgeous photos!


70 Laura @ Backstage Pass November 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Yikes, a drug deal? Good thing you two are fast runners!
Happy Anniversary – looks like you guys are having a blast celebrating :-)


71 Dee November 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Aww, Happy Anniversary to you and Matt! It sounds and looks like you guys are having SUCH a good time! The food looks incredible!


72 Kiran November 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Happy Anniversary Kath & Matt :)
A great way to celebrate. Forget about greens and fruits… I am having it on your behalf 😉
Enjoy the foodie’s haven as much as you can! Everything looks so scrumptious!


73 rachel November 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Love your purple sweater, Kath! Can I ask where you got it?


74 Kath November 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm



75 Rachael November 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I love wine tasting! You should plan a trip to Michigan wine country some time, the Traverse City (Leelanau County and Old Mission Peninsula) has many many wonderful wineries. It’s my happy place!


76 Michelle November 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I love Arista. We stayed in Healdsburg back in May and loved it. A yummy place to eat in Healdsburg is Willi’s Seafood.


77 Kim November 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Hi Kath!
Oh wow, what beautiful wineries! The wine and food looked sooooo delish! :)
Happy 3 year anniversary! Couldnt pick a more lovely way to spend it :)

ps, that blue top you are wearing is sooooooooo gorgeous! :)


78 Ananda November 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I love that you got to eat Niman Ranch meat on your trip. I’m in the middle of reading The Omnivore’s Delimma and Eating Animals right now…

Also, your recap of the Foodbuzz and the rest of the weekend has been so detailed and complete. Thank you. I’ve felt almost like I was along for part of it, while I sit here in Ohio… I’m sure it takes a ton of time and dedication. So thanks!


79 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin November 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Those wineries are so gorgeous! Sipping wine out in a gazebo sounds just about perfect. As does that pumpkin coconut soup. Yum!


80 Elyssa November 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Everything looks so good! You looked beautiful, too! Random question: where do you find your headbands? Yours are definitely not kids’ headbands, and those are the ones that I always seem to find!


81 Kath November 10, 2010 at 1:08 am

Those are Forever 21! I just pick up simple ones when I see ’em on sale


82 Rachel R November 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

All looks so delicious and beautiful. I love your purple shirt! so pretty :)


83 Char November 9, 2010 at 8:53 pm

You’re so beautiful. Beautiful photos too :)



84 Wine Girl @ Kitchen Doesn't Travel November 9, 2010 at 10:54 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months. I love it! This is my first comment, though. My hubby and I took an anniversary trip to the Russian River Valley last year. We ate at Zazu while we were there and it was AMAZING! My only regret is being so full from all the other wonderful things I had been eating that I could barely finish my meal there. Enjoy the rest of your trip!


85 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) May 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

thanks for relinking this post…not sure how i missed it but seriously, what an amazing trip you had…wow!

i love wineries, vineyards, tasting flights, and usually leave napa/sonoma with about 2 or 3 wine-of-the-month-club memberships. you know, where they happily mail you wine every month. :)


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