Sunday, March 27, 2011

San Francisco and Sonoma County

          I’m meeting my twin sister, Diane, and friends Tina and Kenton for a weekend get-away to San Francisco.  We’re staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf Hilton, a pleasant hotel in a central location.  On our second morning we awaken to a clear, blue-sky April day.  We meet in the lobby and walk a block and a half to Pat’s Cafe—we had seen it while riding the cable car yesterday and all thought it looked “cute”.  We arrive as the cafe opens at 7:00 a.m and help the waiter carry the outdoor tables to the sidewalk.  Our breakfasts at Pat’s don’t disappoint - wonderful food served in a relaxing atmosphere.  From Pat’s we walk back to the Hilton and pack for our day trip to Sonoma Valley Wine Country.

Leaving San Francisco we stop at the view area for the Golden Gate Bridge and are treated to spectacular views of Golden Gate Park, spring flowers bursting with blooms of every color.  A large group of cyclists is assembled, ready for a morning ride across the bridge.
We cross the bridge by car, not bicycle, and soon enter the rural farm valley of Sonoma.  On our schedule today are three wineries.  The first winery, Ledson, showcases a tasting room in a giant castle.  We enjoy the tasting, then stop for lunch in Ledson’s marketplace.   
Ledson Winery, Sonoma Wine Country, California.
         From Ledson’s we drive a short distance to the St. Francis Winery.  Having had our fill of wine we opt out of the tasting and walk the grounds.  We all favored the St. Francis Winery, with its Spanish architecture and pleasing gardens.  But I’m sure the owners of St. Francis would have preferred if, rather than admire their grounds,  we’d have tried their wines.
   A longer drive leads to the Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender farm.  The drive through rolling countryside reminds us of the farm country in our home state of Pennsylvania.   Matanzas Creek is a modern winery, it’s tasting building set among giant California Live Oaks.  We walk from the tasting room to the one acre lavender garden.  This one acre of lavender yields millions of stems—a labor-intensive crop.

Our winery tours finished for the day, we drive south to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  The overlook on top a steep, winding road affords panoramic views across the bay and to the gleaming city on the hill. 
We choose the Spinnaker Restaurant in Sausalito for dinner—a round restaurant built on stilts in the bay.  From this restaurant’s windows you can see all of San Francisco, the green and golden hills to the north and Sausalito’s harbors.   Sailboats cruise by the windows as we enjoy tasty seafood meals while savoring the view.  Two negatives to dinner at the Spinnaker: 1) 1970’s disco music playing and, 2) our weird waiter—a nervous, hyper type of guy.  As we were looking at our menu’s he remarked: “OK, lets get the ball rolling!”  I think he's in the wrong job.

After dinner we walk into downtown Sausalito.  The upscale shops are all closed but we do find an ice cream shop—Lappert’s Ice Cream—home of the best coffee ice cream I’ve ever tasted.  
Tomorrow morning we’ll leave this city after two satisfying days sampling a mere taste of all that San Francisco has to offer, our appetites whetted for future trips to the city by the bay.

For information on Sonoma Wine Country see:
Interested in visiting San Francisco?  Find out about it here:


  1. I am from Sonoma County and reading your post again was like going home for a visit. I can almost smell the lavender!

  2. Yes, lavender and Cabernet - I miss this part of northern California. If you get back to Sonoma, check out Gundlach Bundschu winery, their fantastic cave and grounds, and a Cab as rich as dark chocolate!