Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Levi's Gran Fondo

Registration opened today.

And it's almost Sold Out already!

Register now at Levi's Gran Fondo

Monday, December 14, 2009

Persimmon Time in Sonoma County

I was up in Healdsburg at Le Tournesol this weekend doing a little winterizing. I looked out and saw this always strange sight....

Persimmon tree at end of season. Pulled about 15, birds get t... on Twitpic

The leaves have dropped off of our Hachiya Persimmon tree but the fruit is still there. The birds have gone after the ripe ones but they know better than to try to eat the non-ripe ones. I picked the last of them, having already harvested some a month ago.

These trees do very well in Healdsburg. You need to pick the fruit and wait for them to get very squishy before you can eat them. You can then cut the outside and eat the jello like pulp from the inside. My friend Homayoon advised me to slice the top off and eat the insides out with a spoon, using the outside as sort of a cup.

They are very sweet, you can only eat so many. Last night I took the last of our first haul and made this Persimmon Pudding Cake which was a nice treat and very appropriate for the holidays with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice flavors.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cyclocross in Sonoma County?

We have guests coming in next week, and the group includes a cyclist. While I know about Healdsburg's Road Cycling (How Sonoma County became hotbed of the cycling world!) I know less about the off-road action. And our guest says he's bringing the cyclocross bike. He's from Minnesota, not Williamsburg in Manhattan or San Francisco's Mission District , so he's probably not one of these guys...

My Mountain Biking friends rave about Annandale State Park near Santa Rosa. I don't know how technical the terrain is so I don't know how appropriate it is for cyclocross. I also know that Sonoma seems to be a hotbed of cross racing, I went and watch my friends do a cross race, but these are usually on courses that are prepared and then taken down.

I asked Greg Durbin - a.k.a. "GregKnottLeMond" whom I follow on Twitter and he pointed me at Lake Sonoma. I know Lake Sonoma has some very difficult road terrain - Skaggs Springs Road and Rockpile Road, but didn't know about the Mountain Biking. He forwarded me a map showing trails near Liberty Glen Campground off of Rockpile Road.

Greg also pointed me at Bike Monkey magazine which appears to be the Mother Lode - cross fiends galore. I noted that there was reference to a race in Liberty Glen, so maybe that's the spot.

Any cross fiends out there have some recommendations? Please add them in the comments!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ian Ball and Sara Bareilles at C. Donatiello Winery Concert Series!

We had the great pleasure of wandering down Westside Road to C. Donatiello Winery this Sunday for some Wine and Music (this is becoming a trend... a good trend!)

C. Donatiello hosts a summer series of free concerts on their grounds. I noticed that Ian Ball of Gomez, a favorite band of mine would be playing so we went to see the show.

The venue is fantastic. The winery sets out tables or you can find a spot on the grass to set out a blanket and have a picnic while you enjoy some of their wine. On a nice hot day their Chardonnays were perfect (in moderation of course, Westside Road is winding and has many road users).

We caught a nice surprise as unbeknownst to us Sara Bareilles was also on the bill.

A couple of cool features to this winery. First - their garden is amazing. There are interesting edible plants used in a lot of different ways, from their trimmed hedges which are rosemary bushes, to the "moss" in between the stairs that upon closer inspection turned out to be Oregano, Thyme, Mint, Marjoram, etc...

Another cool feature - they allow dogs and babies :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rodney Strong Vineyards Concerts - Susan Tedeschi

This weekend I went with my wife and a friend to Rodney Strong Vineyards to see Susan Tedeschi at Rodney Strong's summer concert series. What a venue! A small grassy lawn perfect for laying out a blanket and having a picnic!

Caprese salad in Sonoma Co. At Rodney Strong watching Susan T... on Twitpic

I whipped up a little caprese salad using tomatoes and basil from our garden. Those without gardens made due with massive hauls from the Healdsburg Farmer's Market, seen in the background of Jackie and Jill enjoying some of Rodney Strong's wine.

enjoying tedeschi

Here's Susan putting on a show. There are "VIP" seats in the front for those who are less inclined to picnic (not me - I want to spread out and lay out a nice dinner!)

The season is winding down but there is still Hall and Oates(!!!) Sept 7. Rodney Strong is at the corner of Old Redwood Highway and Eastside Road, in between Healdsburg and Windsor.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zucchini Races?

Seen at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market - Zucchini Races!

Wandering around the Farmer's market I stumbled upon what upon first glance appeared to be the local Cub Scouts doing the Pinewood Derby.

Zucchini races

But on closer inspection, these vehicles weren't exactly wooden! They were made from Healdsburg's finest Zucchini!

Zucchini mobiles

Far from being built for speed (many of the cars would not make it to the end of the track!) they were mostly made to look good, be funny, and for everyone to check out.
All the kids were winners this day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Emmy's Spaghetti Shack - now in Sonoma County!

One of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco is Emmy's Spaghetti Shack , a no-nonsense Italian joint with great food and wine at good prices. Huge portions, but I have become pretty one dimensional there because you just can't go wrong with their spaghetti and meatballs. Just a cut above anything I make at home - how do they do it.

Anyway, we were there last week and what to my wondering eyes does appear but this!


Emmy's is now in Sonoma County! Sadly it's in Sonoma, not Healdsburg, but if you are passing through Wine Country I heartily recommend Emmy's Spaghetti Shack!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More cycling in Sonoma County - Mill Creek Road

Last night I had the opportunity to do a short ride from our house on Limerick Lane. Not wanting to go too far, I rode through downtown Healdsburg and onto Westside Road and then turned right onto Mill Creek Road.

Mill Creek Road is a dead end to cars that goes several miles into the hills West of Healdsburg. I had been up a mile or two when we were looking for property, but never taken the opportunity to ride to the end on my bike. The Sonoma County Bike Coaltion map listed the summit at 1320 feet, so I figured it would be a perfect workout.

The hill starts steep, 7-8 percent grades for a mile or so, then settles into a rolling uphill with many intermediate descents. You quickly leave the grape fields and go along a stream surrounded by Redwood Trees. It reminds me a lot of going up Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino.

There are many houses tucked in the trees - people who clearly value a bit of privacy by living up here, but I had no problems with the few cars that were driving up the road. In fact, several miles up a guy in a truck pulled up next to me just as I was heading up a steeper pitch and asked if I needed a ride.

I stopped and chatted with him a bit, asking where the finish was. He said "About a mile but the next bit is REALLY steep. The road ends at address 10,000, you are at 8700 now. Good luck!"

He wasn't kidding. This next part did not remind me of Steven's Canyon - it reminded me of Redwood Gulch. 15-18% grade for the better part of a mile. A real grunter, right outside my door! A great find!

I did take the requisite picture at the top.

mill creek rd

I was going to stop on the way down and try to get a photo of the steep bit, but I came off of it with so much speed that I didn't want to stop. The descent is tricky, the road is narrow so you need to be careful lest there be a car around a blind corner. The steep section is very twisty so I basically rode the brakes the whole way. And the pavement is pretty chopped up. And of course, since there are intermediate descents on the way up, there are intermediate climbs on the way down.

Check it out sometime. And please be mindful of the residents, hold your pee until you get to the bottom and use the bathroom at Mill Creek Winery.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday Night Music in the Healdsburg Plaza!

Last night we were lucky enough to be able to go downtown to the Healdburg Plaza, where there is live music on Tuesday nights as well as a mini farmers market.

The band was in full swing playing some rocking tunes.


Get there early or you might have trouble getting a place to sit. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. It can get really packed.


Some people really prep up with some serious picnics.


If you can't bring your own stuff from home, the Farmer's Market has lots of good stuff, Yucatan Tamales has some pretty amazing Mexican food made with interesting local ingredients, and there are a few markets in walking distance - Shelton's Market (formerly known as Anstedt's), and Oakville Grocery. Shelton's is a cool place with a "crunchy granola" vibe to it with a lot of organics and the like, Oakville is sort of a "very high end" deli.

Me? I prepared by getting some Racer 5 Ale from Bear Republic Brewery.


The farmer's market runs from 4-7, the music goes from 6-8 PM.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cycling around Healdsburg - bike ride on the Chalk Hill Loop

This past weekend I took a bit of a breather on our trip to Healdsburg and instead of obsessively pulling weeds from the garden, I took my bike out for a spin.

I started at Le Tournesol and stopped to take a compare and contrast photoset.

Here is Limerick Lane Winery, tucked in behind some of their grapes.


Here is the view across the street.

new grapes on limerick

Newly planted vines - they went in this past week. These won't be wine for a few decades. I'm told there won't be a tasting room added because Limerick Lane is already maxed out with Limerick, Christie, Christopher Creek, and Mietz.

I headed South on Los Amigos into Windsor. Left on Arata, straight on Hembree, left on Old Redwood, left on Pleasant. This is where things get more pleasant, as you leave the outskirts of Windsor and head into the hills on Chalk Hill Road.

Chalk hill - always a good place to be on Twitpic

Chalk Hill is a very popular cycling road near Healdsburg, a part of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club's Wine Country Century and the Vineman triathlon. You often see hordes of triathletes scoping out the course. I rode the hill in the opposite direction of both of those courses - I prefer this direction because the descent is much more twisty and fun.

At the North End of Chalk Hill Road I turned left onto 128 and into the Alexander Valley, which as you can see is just an awful place.
This photo was taken at the driveway to Alexander Valley Vineyard's winery, the tasting room is tucked up into the hills and is quite striking. I highly recommend their "Redemption Zin".

128 takes you into the hamlet (2-3 buildings) of Jimtown. Here you can refuel at the Jimtown Store, known for cyclists stopping to fuel up and for their various olive and artichoke tapenades.


I took Alexander Valley Road straight to Healdsburg Ave, a detour on Lytton Springs is perhaps a more pleasant route, you can go under the freeway onto Chiquita Lane which is a rolling scenic alternative to the rough pavement on Healdsburg Ave. Both roads take you to Grove which takes you into downtown Healdsburg. A scenic cyclist bypass (if you don't want to go check out the Healdsburg Plaza) is Kinley Road, which runs along 101 on the West side from Dry Creek Road to Westside Road, past Horse Farms and grapes. Finally I got back on Old Redwood and returned to Limerick Lane, and sat down on the back deck and enjoyed a white peach from our tree which is in full flight.

Not a bad day at all!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One small step towards SMART rail

Freight trains will return to Sonoma County soon. From the Press Democrat

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Willi's Wine Bar, Healdsburg

Last night we went to one of our favorite spots, Willi's Wine Bar in Healdsburg.

willi's winebar Healdsburg

Aside from a good wine selection, Willi's is known for it's oysters. In fact, the Healdsburg branch is really called "Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar". There is another Willi's, on the Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield that is "Willi's Wine Bar".

Willi's food is composed of numerous small plates. Tonight we focused on several of our favorites - spinach salad, calamari, hangar steak with chimichurri sauce, and my personal favorite - "Salt and Pepper Riblets".

On a warm night in Healdsburg it's great to try and get an outdoor table. Pro tip: Call in one hour ahead of time and put your name on the waitlist. Pro tip number 2 - get a spot at the bar and eat to your heart's content and meet some of the characters also in Healdsburg that night!

willi's bar

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm - a Sonoma County Original

Saturday Night I cajoled my wife into a trip to Cloverdale to go to the World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm for some BBQ.

This place is great. An old roadhouse looking place on 128 just on the North tip of Cloverdale as you would head to Mendocino. We found it by happenstance on a cycling trip in Sonoma. I wanted to take my wife out on Dutcher Creek Road to give her a taste of a small hill that wouldn't have much traffic, then drop us into the Dry Creek Valley. Not knowing much about Cloverdale, I decided we should stay there. When dinnertime came, there were something like 5 places in the yellow pages. We passed on a Mexican joint, the pub was closed, so we ended up at the Hamburger Ranch.

Once there, we were greeted by "BBQ Bob" and his "lady", Joanne.

Bob has a grill outside where he was cooking up some ribeyes and salmon, and he has a smoker where he does his ribs ("I'm originally from Kansas City", he says). Bob Krucker is quite a character and chatting with him adds a lot to the experience had eating his BBQ. The meal also comes with the "BBQ Pasta", which isn't barbequed, it's just the moniker for the pasta they serve with the BBQ, I think a combo of the red and the white sauce. A good salad and some grilled zucchini finishes the meal.

We liked the place so much, we had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding there. I recommend the Baby Back Ribs. Go early enough that you can soak in the warm Sonoma County sun on the outdoor patio.

Did I say that the meal finishes with zucchini? Blasphemy! The finishing flourish is their special dessert - the Pumpkin Pudding Cake. Excellent stuff.

Stop by and visit Bob on your next trip to Wine Country! You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seen at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market

Dueling Healdsburg Restaurants!

While suffocating in heavy Lavender scent - this weekend was the Lavender Weekend at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market, I spotted 2 chefs from the Dry Creek Kitchen surfing through the Farmer's Market, looking for a few key ingredients. I was pretty impressed that they would be going right to the source. The market is still just stretching its legs towards summer, but there were a few peaches available - a very few, the sold out almost immediately! A couple of zucchini and cucumber, but not of the likes we'll see in a month.

I turned around and saw the heavy hitter on the local culinary scene, Douglass Keane from Cyrus, lounging on a bench, and getting his picture taken for some sort of PR routine. I looked over and laughed, and said I forgot my camera or I would put you up on my humble blog as well!

I really liked the local chefs buying at the local market. Keane is also involved in the Healdsburg Bar and Grill which has a mighty fine burger. One thing I like about that place - they have half wine barrels lined up around their garden growing herbs - now that's local!

I didn't need to buy any lavender at the market today - we have plenty of our own...


And the Heirlooms are looming as well!

Heirloom tomatoes starting on Twitpic

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Love Farms - Healdsburg California

This past weekend we were in Healdsburg and made a stop at Love Farms. In fact we made two stops!

First, on Saturday we stopped at Love Farms' market on North Street in Downtown Healdsburg. Love Farms has grounds in Healdsburg on Grove Street and sells the produce in their little organic produce market on North. That's local produce for you!


While my wife fed our son, I ventured in to see what was for sale.


Mostly cabbage, carrots, and greens. There were two lonely tomatoes and a few baskets of cherry tomatoes. These were not the wretched refuse - they were the early comers from the tomato season which is approaching at full steam with it at 85 degrees today in Healdsburg!

Those big white blobs on the bottom shelf are Ostrich Eggs! They have an Ostrich at the farm and sell the gigantic eggs. Note - they are $25 a pop!


The friendly staffer posed in front of their sign and the noteboard for their CSA boxes. Love Farms sells subscriptions to their boxes, $20 for small boxes, $30 for big boxes, discounts for longer subscriptions. Sometimes you can pick one up at the store on Fridays.

We sauntered over to the farm. The owner Ron Love was there but looked very busy so I was a bad blogger and didn't interview him. I did take a (not very good) photo.


They don't sell produce at the farm but it is a nursery with some very good looking plants and a nice variety of small fruit trees. Next time you are in Healdsburg and are looking to make dinner with locally sourced organic produce, give Love Farms a try!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Time!

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is coming! Running this year from May 29-June 7, the Jazz Festival has been running strong for eleven years.

The concerts range from quiet outings in small venues like the Palette Art Cafe to my personal preference for this year, the Stars of Brazil that will be held outdoors at University Park. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sun (bring your sunscreen!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Farmer Murph's Orchard and Garden - Healdsburg style

This weekend was a heavy work weekend in Healdsburg in the Garden. More tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and especially a lot of thinning of the fruit to make sure that in July and August we hit the jackpot.

Right now it looks like a banner year for Almonds, Pears, Peaches, and Pomegranates.

The tomato plants are blooming, and now I have 10 plants going with some basic tomatoes and some more esoteric heirlooms. The basil plants are recovering from some early issues. The irrigation lines are setup to use every drop I put on them properly. Now we wait!

And yes, there are still some available weekends :) to rent our Healdsburg Vacation Rental Home during harvest, and yes you can have your pick from the garden!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Windsor Farmer's Market

Windsor is a town 5 miles or so South of Healdsburg. Windsor is bigger than Healdsburg, with a lot of recent construction. Windsor is known among other things for it's Old Downtown which is really not so old. The location is the same, but there is a lof of new construction, done to have the look and feel of "old" downtowns, with mixed retail/residential around a town green. It definitely looks a bit manufactured, but it's functional and has made downtown a center. If the SMART rail comes to fruition this is also where the Windsor train depot is.

On Sunday's, Windsor has a farmer's market on the town green. We wandered by on Sunday to see what was up. Windsor's market is slightly bigger than Healdsburg, and contains many of the same vendors. It was sunny this weekend so I got some photos.

There are more food options, including Charlie's BBQ which has some great pulled pork sandwiches.

Sonoma County Honey was there. Is there a season for Honey?

Dan the Tomato Man from Soda Rock Farms holding court! Sadly I had bought plants from the Healdsburg Nursery yesterday when we missed Healdsburg's market, not knowing Dan came to Windsor as well. His plants look great and he has a lot of knowledge. I asked him about my basil plants, which keep getting eaten. He says the don't do anything about pests on the basil as they plant 15,000 basil plants a year so a little loss doesn't bother him.

There is a string band playing acoustic music, largely folk. I missed the action photo as they were done for the day.

There are picnic tables on the expansive town green where you can sit down and sample the goodies and eat lunch. Tent not included!

If you are lucky enough to wander through on Thursday nights, there is another farmer's market on Thursday which includes a movie night! Windsor puts up a big screen in the middle of the green and shows films. There are also bands on occasion. Tuesday's are kids movies on the green. Windsor made a committment to having a real downtown instead of just the big boxes on Shiloh Road, so far, so good!

More information on the Windsor Farmer's Market Here

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Healdsburg - Tomato Country!

Today my Wife had someone helping her with the baby so I was let loose in the garden. Today's priority - Tomatoes!

Last year, we had amazing tomatoes, despite not knowing very much about them. I just bought some starts at the nursery, plopped them in our planter box, turned the drip irrigation on, and voila! Massive numbers of mutant tomatoes!

This year I had big plans. I was going to raise seedlings at home in San Francisco, down in the garage, to plant at Healdsburg. I had them up to about 2 inches in height and looking very good, then yesterday I put them out before work, got home late, and the sun and wind killed them! Doh. Back to starts.

I had planted 2 from starts about a month ago, using last years methodology. They are growing like their predecessors from last year.

One of the keys to this planter box is the huge lavender plant in the background. In addition to smelling great to me, it smells great to bees, bringing pollinators to the garden. This plant is coming along nicely.

In the meantime I've been studying some on tomato planting. We had some extra land that I decided to try to plant with tomatoes. First, I had to lay an irrigation line on a timer.

Unscientifically I am using one 2 GPH emitter per plant, watering 5 minutes a day. I probably would be fine with less volume, but I didn't have lower flow emitters, which I will probably pick up so as to not overwater. One, I'll do some research - it does get very hot here though.

The path from pot to ground is thus - at least this is what I went with. Here is the start.

I snipped off all but the top branches. This is always painful for some reason. I dug a deep hole, put some fertilizer in the very bottom, and buried the plant to just below the top leaves. I dressed it a little with some more fertilizer.

Voila. Looks puny compared to what I start with by just plopping the whole start in at ground level, but the plant is supposed to be stronger and healthier this way, growing more roots, etc...

Finally I put the cages in to set all the plants up - 6 in all in the new plot. I bought some cucumbers to start here as well, but I am going to let them grow bigger indoors. I had some Zucchini starts and they were eaten up overnight. Best to let the plants get a good head start on the vermin, in the meantims I've applied some sluggo. The tomatoes don't seem to be as succulent as they don't tend to get eaten, unlike zuccini and basil. Zucchini and cucumbers are massive producers up here, but I have to keep them from being eaten while they're young.

The tomatoes should be ready in late July and produce through September. All the fruits and veggies are for our guests, so if heirloom tomatoes fresh off the vine are your speed, come up to our Sonoma County Vacation Rental - Le Tournesol (French for "The Sunflower") and feast on tomatoes with some of our areas great wines!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Congrats Douglas Keane

Chef Douglas Keane from Cyrus has won
the award for Best Chef: Pacific at the James Beard Awards.

Via the Press Democrat


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Healdsburg Farmer's Market is open!

Today was opening day for the Healdsburg Farmer's Market which will be open Saturdays from 9 AM to Noon from May 2 until Nov 28. This market tends to lean towards local producers compared to other Bay Area markets that have a lot of Central Valley produce, and as such the produce stays very seasonal and you can chat about the area with the vendors.

Today is early in the season, the primary items were greesn - chards, lettuces, spring garlic. There were a few people with Oranges and Lemons which actually grow pretty well here, as well as Cherries - which I was very surprised to see.

In addition to the greens, there are cheese vendors - Pug's Leap and Spring Hill Cheese are regulars. A couple of Olive Oil vendors are usually present, including Deer Gnaw. Other goodies include Honey, ceramics, and grass fed beef.

A fixture of the market is "Dan the Tomato Man" from Soda Rock Farm just North of Healdsburg. GREAT tomatoes. Of course, at this time of year, they aren't in season - but Dan was selling starts. It was raining today so I deferred but next week I'll be picking up a few to add to the current stock in our garden. I did get my arm twisted and picked up a 4 inch basil plant - a basil plant I put in a month ago didn't survive a couple of cold days but they should be perfect now.

The Farmers Market is on Grove Street behind the Bear Republic Brewery Bear Republic Brewery so you can conveniently pick up some Racer 5 IPA to go with it.

I didn't take any photos since it was raining and it would not do the market justice. I did take a few photos of our own farmer's market at Le Tournesol. Mint, Parsley, and Oregano are in full spring blow up mode.

More importantly the tomatoes I already planted are starting to show a few blooms.

Come July we'll hopefully have big tomatoes like last year - as seen on one of the photos here. My goal is 9-10 healthy producing heirloom and sauce tomato plants to have plenty for us and our tenants alike.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get paid to write a Wine Country Blog?

Guest Blogging - John Murphy

Murphy-Goode Winery is offering a dream job for the Twitterati - a job as "Wine Country Correspondent" to blog and tweet for 10k a month - to "report on the cool lifestyle of Sonoma County Wine Country and, of course, tell people what you’re learning about winemaking."

So you are saying that I am writing my primary blog and ghostwriting this blog for my wife (who is busy raising Murphy 2.0) for free when I could be making money doing it, and having the time to visit and see more of Sonoma County in order to find the content to write about? What am I doing at nVidia?

The Chronicle has a story on the "Really Goode-Job".

Pick Me! Let's see....

1) Blogger/Tweeter
2) MSEE. I don't consider my webwork to be of high quality - because I am too busy designing microprocessors to upgrade my html/cgi coding, but how hard can it be?
3) "live rent free in Healdsburg" - I can live at Le Tournesol and save Murphy-Goode some scratch.
4) Experience growing grapes!
5) "play the occasional game of poker with a laid-back staff" - I played in the 2004 World Series of Poker - winning my seat online. Good friends with Pro Poker players Andy Bloch and Phil Gordon. This doesn't mean I'll win ;)
6) John MURPHY - enough said...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Passport to Dry Creek Valley 2009

This weekend is the Passport to Dry Creek Valley weekend up in Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

This event is a wonderful way to try many of the wines of the Dry Creek Valley, as 45 wineries open their doors to Passport holders and couple them with food, usually incorporating a theme.

This event has grown so popular that Passports are sold via a lottery!

We won't be attending because we have rented out our house for the weekend, luckily Healdsburg is open every weekend ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cycling in Sonoma County

A nice article in the Chronicle about one of the best Sonoma County activities - cycling.

Starting in Santa Rosa, we'd ride west to Sebastopol, then north to Graton, mostly on the West County Trail, a paved former rail line now open only to hikers and bikers - no motor vehicles allowed. Along the way we'd sip chai, visit a goat dairy, taste some wine and revel in the scenic bounty of west Sonoma County as buds burst from the trees and wildflowers carpet the land.

Our son Liam is occupying a lot of the time we used to devote to cycling around Healdsburg, but when we get the chance, the Dry Creek Valley is truly a beautiful place to explore on two wheels.

Here's an account of a ride in Dry Creek.

If you are in Healdsburg, the folks at
Spoke Folk Cyclery
can help you out with routes and bike rentals.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fruits coming into bud in Sonoma County

We are blessed with many fruit trees at our Vacation Rental in Sonoma County , near Healdsburg. A walk around the property showed that we have the potential for a good harvest this year.

Pomegranates - which come in in September/October.

Pears - these get ready in the August timeframe and are pickable into October. We have Bosc, Bartlett, and Anjou pears.

Peaches! We are loaded with these babies that come in June.

Our seedless grapes look pretty good compared to last year, when a late frost hurt the bunches. Here's hoping these come in nicely.

Figs. The unusally warm weather in January has brought out some figs very early. Hopefully more buds will come out, but it looks like we may have some as early as June.

Asian Pears! We have 2 trees with Asian Pears - these are fantastic fruits and are very prolific in Sonoma County. They should be ready in July and be available for a few months.

Almonds. A bumper crop on our tree. Last year we only had a few and the squirrels got them! This year I'll try to defend them better. I think these, like the figs, are coming in early.

All of our guests are welcome to dig into these fruits, along with the apples that show up in July-August, the November Persimmons, June Apricots, and of course giant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini that populate our vegetable garden!

Even if you aren't exactly Charlie Palmer, a good piece of fruit is a great snack to take out for wine tasting before you visit one of Healdsburg's fine restaurants.

For information on staying at our house - Le Tournesol - call Jill Murphy at 415-515-1095