Where there is wine, there is fun. It really is one of the world’s most simple equations when trying to figure out how to have a an eventful time. Lets face it, wine has been the key ingredient for thousands of years and if Jesus loved it, than you know it is good for you (yep, I think I just said that). When my friend, Michelle decided to plan her “Bridal Weekend” away to Northern California, I was quite intrigued as I had never made it up to that part of the state. Living in Los Angeles, you think anything North of Malibu is some other foreign territory where they use different currency and speak a different language so this weekend away I was not going to miss.
The full circle moment in all of this, is that Michelle and I have been drinking wine since the day we first met. Seeing us in our grown up costumes 7 years later sipping wine from various vineyards in Sonoma County was something that I just had to share with you!
Let me rewind though, as I sit here drinking my fruit punch Gatorade and fill you in on some fabulous discoveries from this past weekend. If you, your lover, friends or family need to get the hell out of dodge and are dying for a relaxing weekend than it is time to start planning your Sonoma County, California trip!
Sonoma is the largest producer of California’s Wine Country region, which also includes Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties. It has over 250 wineries and is a leading producer of poultry , grapes, prunes, apples and dairy products water. There are all sorts of darling little hotels and fancy resorts to stay in but our group (which consisted of 2 gays and 7 girls) bunked up in a weekend rental that blew our lipgloss off. Our charming house was located in the small woody town of Gueneville, located just adjacent to the Russian River. The area became popular with wealthy vacationers from San Fran in the late 19th century and continued to build up as a spot for hiking, fishing, boating and taking in the gorgeous redwood trees. The main drag has a mix of precious little ma and pa shops, hole in the wall bars, and quaint restaurants – it is a total trip to walk around. Everyone was so damn friendly, and moved at a very relaxed pace. The locals were a bit of a confetti mix to say the least, from the sophisticated, the outdoorsy, the hippies, the gays, the families, to some very earthy (and sometimes scary) looking transients. I do need to note that the mature gay community actually has a bit of history and I highly suggest couples looking to get out of the West Hollywood scene to check it out (http://www.guerneville-online.com).
Here are a few pics of our happy home, it was the most perfect place to celebrate the bride-to-be as it featured plenty of room, up to date kitchen, comfy beds, big backyard with a hammock, hot tub, garden, grill and a deck overlooking the surrounding redwoods that kept the area super private.
All of our nights were spent getting to know each other, drinking and laughing all our cares away. One of the many things that I learned this weekend had a to do with the way women communicate and think. Women are so powerful in the way that they speak, share and listen. It was fascinating to see such a big group of women get along so well. What I had to take in though is how women and men really do speak a different language. If a woman feels comfortable, she can articulate her feelings like a smooth symphony. Bring the words, “feeling” or “emotion” up to a man and he runs the other direction. This is where men and women differ. Men just don’t have that gift to open up. A lot of this has to do with society and how men are raised but most has to do with the simple fact that men are just built different. I really think this is where a lot of fights get stirred up, women may think men know what they are thinking or trying to communicate but they really don’t have a clue. At the end of the day, both men and women are looking for some form of validation; “the good job hunny,” or “I love the way you cook,” or “you did really good with putting the baby down to bed” or “god, you look hot!” I think the more you are able to check in with your spouse, the less the arguments you will have. All too often, relationships take a downward spiral when so much time goes by and expectations set in and start to override any form or acknowledgment or appreciation. The wife starts to assume the man knows what she wants or is feeling and the man assumes the wife is just fine. So – – Here I am to tell all those couples out there to put the brakes on thinking that your spouse automatically is thinking the same thing you are – if you need to say something, say it right than and there. We can all learn from each other.
Now, going back to the weekend, my boyfriend and I really were so impressed with our new lady friends. It felt like we were being filmed for the new season of “The Real World.” These girls were very much the “new modern” girl – hard working, driven, independent, opinionated, and professionals at balancing mommy-hood, relationship, and work. The girls that were mothers had left their little ones at home to come on this trip. I could tell they really enjoyed the peace and quiet, the ease of not having to change diapers, pick up toys or worry about what to make for dinner, but at the same time they also talked about their experience of being a mom and how much they LOVED it.
Another thing I learned this trip was the impact of having kids and how it really changes everything. I often talk about wanting a child one day, and how nice that would be. After this weekend, from what I gathered – until you have your own, you really don’t know the impact it is going to have on your life. Getting married is the easy part, especially if you already lived with your partner prior, it is the actual process of getting pregnant and having babies that really rocks the boat. Yes, having kids is a beautiful thing but it certainly changes the dynamic of your relationship. I think it is so much harder for the woman as she has to deal with the changing of the body, the carrying of the baby inside of her, the hormones, the hormones, and the hormones! Men will also go through that road of change but on a much different scale. If I were to give a piece of advice to all the soon to be dads out there (coming from a place where I know what women think), I would say to really research and understand what your wife is going to go through when she gets pregnant and when she has the baby. It is super complex, and the more you get it, the easier the transition should be for you both. And don’t take your sleep for granted; sleep, rest and help is what women really want and need the first three months – SO give it to them!
Alright, let’s get back to wine shall we? There are tons of wineries around Guerneville that I suggest you check out (including Korbel Champage tasting!). Korbel was our first destination since who does not like to start your day off with a mimosa? So, visiting Korbel was quaint, historic, unpretentious, and perfect if you want to show up in a casual attire and start the day off with a little bubbly. They have delicious blends of champagnes to taste and beautiful grounds to walk around.
My top favorite wineries that you must check out were, “Russian Hill” and “Michel-Schlumberger” which I think had the best scenery and service. The view at “Russian Hill” was everything you want it to be and “Michele Schlumberger” offered yummy treats such as a delicious salmon spread, nuts, cheese and fruit to go along with their variety of wines.
My other top spots to check out included;
Corks Restaurant at Russian River Vineyards
This was at the top of my list in all things Sonoma as it is the perfect dining experience if you are visiting from a big city. The staff is so friendly, the historic 1890’s farmhouse is perf for a photo op and their brunch menu is too die for (order the french toast!!).
Willy’s Wine Bar
I recommend that you come hungry and open your mind to trying some of your favorites served in a different way. Order between 4-5 of the “small plates” for two people and please get the Filet mignon sliders ($16). They are basically this yummy orgasm of meat with a mini roll spinach and mustard sauce. So damn good! Their truffle fries were also heavenly.
Dry Creek General Store
I could have spent the whole afternoon trying out all the home cooked food at the precious little store. The front porch area was the perfect place to sit and take a break from drinking wine. The store is really well preserved and taken care of too. It has a great rustic vibe and food that will make your mouth water. I went with the pulled pork sandwich followed by a humongous rice crispy treat. It was all so worth it! Loved this place and so will you!!
I hope you enjoyed all my pics, advice and weekend adventures – remember that when you are looking to get-a-way for the weekend, try to plan a trip where the location is a little out of the box. Many of the tourist traps out there tend to bring the same energy as being back at home so start looking into towns that are known for their hospitality, good food and beautiful nature.
This weekend trip was one that we certainly will never forget. I thank all the girls for making it so memorable and so happy we were all able to toast to such a dear friend.
I’m off to bed now. More travel days ahead this week.
Next stop – New York!
The Other Hubby