Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sideways 2 : Revenge of the Moms

2014 has been a  bittersweet year – In June, my beautiful baby boy Jake Ryder was born brining me more joy than I ever thought possible – his tiny toes, sweet smile and cheeky sense of humor makes me fall in love with him more and more each day.  Sadly though, only a week after he was born, my mother’s cancer came back and in September she passed away leaving one huge hole in my heart.  Jake was only three months old but I am so happy my mother got to spend some time with her grandson.  If she could see him now, she would be so proud of the beautiful, happy baby he is. 

 Jake and I between the vines on the Landmark property. 

He has a big family loves him on the Coast and good friends in Montreal that he will grow up knowing.  With all of the stress,  anger, and sadness of the events in the past few months, I needed to get away. I wanted Jake and I to go somewhere together and have him to myself for just a little bit; and let’s face it, I needed to drink some good wine again.  It was a toss up between California and Italy – and since I was not yet ready to take Jake overseas just yet – Napa/Sonoma Valley it was.

                                                      Jake and Elsie having having some fun at Landmark.

My old time friend Liane and her twenty month old daughter Elsie came along for the ride.  Moms on a mission to seek out some good wine. Our plan was simple: Drive from winery to winery with our kids attached on our hip.  Some spots were warm and welcoming, and others, although few,  not so much. Strange looks and a ‘tsk tsk  tsk’ here and there.  However at Landmark Winery – we were greeted with a very warm welcome.

                                                    The gang at the Landmark tasting room.  

With the help of my friend/travel agent Cindy Almond, we found a sweet little cottage to rent at Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma. She searched everywhere and ended up finding this hidden gem.   It was the perfect spot – Donna and her hospitality team at Landmark were amazing in accommodating all of us.  The cottage, which is only a five minute walk from their tasting room, had been recently renovated just before our stay.

 New floors, updated cabinetry, brand new sparkling bathroom, and an awesome queen size bed  made for a comfortable stay .  The living room had a comfy sofa bed which allowed us to have some privacy for sleeping.  Donna had even supplied us with pack and plays, high chair and a bath tub for the babies to make life a bit easier for us.  This was really appreciated! When we arrived, our fridge was stocked with bottled water, yogurt, fresh fruit and breakfast muffins!  These small details made things extra special for us. 

                                                  Our home for a week : Landmark Cottage 

The views surrounding the cottage was magical - rolling hills, hugged by the fog, pretty pink flowers, and of course lots and lots of vines, ….. it was breathtaking. It looked even better when we had a glass of Landmark’s Outlook Chardonnay on the front porch. (BTW - One complementary bottle with our stay.)  Landmark primarily produces only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and they do it well.  Smart.  Being a guest of theirs, we had the opportunity to taste some wonderful wines and had a special tour of their estate. 

Like most wineries in the area, Landmark sources their grapes from different regions in California.   They were founded in 1974 by  Damaris Deer Ford, the great great granddaughter of John Deer.  Damaris wanted to make Pinot Noir but quickly learned that Landmark was a better spot for growing Rhone style grapes.  So, like most wineries in the area, Landmark sources its grapes from different counties; Sonoma , Monterey and Santa Barbra. 

Their wines are typically Californian – beautiful lush fruit, fresh, with oak playing a supportive role.  Buttery and soft with very good length.  Landmark has intents of making wine that reflects the site they come from.   Their chardonnays are silky, smooth, bursting with fruit, with excellent length.   My favorite was their Overlook Chardonnay – goes down real easy, and keeps you wanting more.  Lots of citrus and pear – very refreshing.  Their Pinot Noir was also a hit for me – lots of red berry fruit, and quite complex with lots of texture.  A  birthday gift from Landmark ( so so thoughtful and sweet) , their Grand Detour was my favorite.  Lots of blackberry, cherry and smoky bacon, welcoming tannin,  good acidity to keep it nice and fresh- with a  length that went on for days.  I miss it  - wish I could have brought home more.

                                                  Landmark's Overlook Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

As a place to stay – this was place was truly amazing.  I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to get away with a loved one, family, or friends.  It was close to all the famous wineries, great restaurants ( loved Palooza – best burgers, fries, and much needed craft beers when wanting a break from all the wine...more in an upcoming post).  The cottage itself was very clean, beds very comfortable, and even the small details made us feel so welcome and at home. The cottage allowed us to self cater with a fully equipped kitchen,  a home phone, t.v., washer and dryer.  We were well taken care of here. Thanks a million times to Landmark for all they did to accommodate us - they made our stay so special.

The wines were gorgeous and delicious.  It was hard to choose which ones I would take back home with me.  If you ever find yourself in Sonoma – this place is not to be missed.  Ask for Winona – she will take good care of you. 

Liane and I had a great stay – and so did the kiddies.  Travelling with the babies wasn’t difficult – sure changing diapers in a fancy shmanchy tasting room was tricky but we managed and they travelled real well.   The funny looks we got from our fellow tasters did not sway us.   We walked into so many tasting rooms, and we proud to be there with them.  We were in Napa and Sonoma for God’s sakes – nothing was going to stop us from trying some exciting wine.  The memories we made from the trip will last a lifetime, and when the babes get older they will hear all about it.  I will always travel with Jake – of course it wont be a wine focused vacation every time, but we will have adventures together  - so many places in this world to see. My future partner in crime.  J  Thanks to Liane and Elsie who put up me!  Ba Ba Do Do all the way Gorgeous Girl! 

                                      Elsie taking the time to smell the roses outside the Landmark Cottage


Cindy Almond - Travel Agency