Tuesday, July 04, 2006


During college, my girlfriends and I coined terms for each of our styles. My look was deemed rugged-elegance (another girl's was sultry-machismo). I truly embraced my ruggedly elegant style this weekend, camping for the first half and lounging at a spa for the second half.

We had a boat-in campsite at Lake Sonoma. Aboard our Zodiac, Aren and I were literally sprawled on top of all our camping gear, the height of which was far higher than the boat's. Aren didn't appreciate my stowaway cracks. We did not try the gourmet-camping thing and instead survived on canned soup and ravioli, an assortment of cereal bars, and some Stella Artois. We did enjoy the sun (Frindians do burn), read a lot, and enjoyed one another's company sans laptops.

As usual, the shower that came post-camping was divine. So fresh and so clean, Aren and I visited a couple wineries:

1. Michel Schlumberger: The winery is the only grower of Pinot Noir grapes in the Dry Creek Valley and crafts all of its wines in a more French than American style.

2. Unti: One of Aren's co-workers swears by this winery, which seems to focus on Italian varietals. The wine was ok -- we picked up some bottles for Aren's co-worker, but none for ourselves.

3. Belvedere: Yuck. Mr. Belvedere himself must be the winemaker.

4. Rochioli: Affordable, above-average wines.

5. A Rafanelli: I'm saving the best for last. Rafanelli has a cult following -- there is a two year waitlist to become part of their wine club. We made sure to come away with a couple bottles of their Zin and Merlot.

We were hungry after all the wine tasting. Fortunately, Farmhouse Inn, the lovely place where we stayed not only has a spa, but a highly acclaimed restaurant. When I was getting ready for dinner, Aren picked up a dozen roses for me and had the host place them on our table -- husbands and boyfriends, use this one!

Dinner was fabulous. I had burrata with fresh tomato crostini, seared halibut, and olive oil cake with lemon sabayon. We asked the sommelier for a really earthy, local Pinot Noir. He recommended we try a bottle from Porter Creek, which he described as producing artisan wines that are too earthy for many people. We loved the wine -- it wasn't smooth, but in a rustic, rather than overly alcoholic way.

We're exhausted from our weekend -- hopefully the fireworks won't keep us from going to bed early.


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