January 14, 2007

Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace

Ahhh the wine country. Napa and Sonoma Counties which make up the Wine Country heartland are accountable for 90% of all wine produced in the U.S. Although Napa Valley is slightly better known, Sonoma County is actually the birthplace of California's wine industry. It is in her rolling hills that Colonel Agoston Haraszthy first planted zinfandel grapes in the 1850's. Today, more than just rolling hills and vines as far as the eye can see, it is home to over 70 wineries and has become a popular destination for oenophiles and non-oenophiles alike. And whereas I only dipped my foot into her waters many moons ago, I was determined to take the plunge this time and venture deeper.

So armed with printed pages from Google Maps, my friend M and I took turns at the wheel as we made our way upstate from SF. We both agreed to do only one winery on this trip so we would have time for all the other things we wanted to see and do while there. The day couldn't have been more perfect. Yhe sun was shining and the leaves were swaying gently. As we cruised along the country road, I felt a flood of happiness in my veins. Roadtrip with good friend, perfect weather, gorgeous scenery, prospecting fine wine & food, this is the stuff dreams are made of.

Our first stop was the Viansa Winery. Few places in the world are more romantic than a gorgeous villa surrounded by vineyards. We caught glimpses of the Italian hilltop villa through the olive trees as we made our way up the driveway and into the parking lot. I stepped out of M's camry and into what could have been a vineyard in Tuscany.

The Sebastiani family's Tuscan heritage is visible everywhere, from the architecture : the fountain in the courtyard ,the red-tiled roofs, frescoes, sculptures, traditional artisan iron-work to the things they produced: the food, olive oil and of course the wine. The winery was founded in 1989 by the Sebastiani family and produces some of the finest Italian wines in the region.
We checked out the cool cave cellar with its interspersed arching alcoves topped with a high vaulted ceiling before heading to the Italian Marketplace at the back of the villa. Barbera Rose, Prosecco, Dolcetto, Muscat Canelli are just some of the wines made in these grounds. Upstairs is the marketplace/tasting room, I was surprised to find a very extensive array of food products. They had salsas, jams, dipping oils, spreads, cheeses, side by side with Tuscan-inspired tableware, cookbooks and souvenirs. I made my rounds from table to table sampling everything, sparing none. Everything was so good, I almost forgot about the wines!
At the rear of the villa is the beautiful picnic grounds, a popular venue for wedding receptions. Here, the guests are treated to an expansive view of the countryside, a perfect backdrop for the rustic atmosphere. I could have sat there for hours, maybe even all day and into the night if I had a good bottle of wine with me and some pairings. But we had a long day ahead of us and it was time to move on. Still so much to see!

Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace
25200 Arnold Dr., Sonoma CA 95476
Tel. 1-800-995-4740

10 comments:

Garrett said...

I live in Nor Cal and have yet to visit a winery. How sad is that? Glad you liked the flank steak btw!!!
:)

cookingchat said...

I too love wine country. Last time we were there, about 4 years ago, we stayed where the Russian River empties into the Pacific and enjoyed some great winery visits. A small family winery called Sunce was especially fun!

Garrett, wow, time to see a winery!

joey said...

What a wonderful experience...out on the road, great weather, great company, and food & wine hunting...you are right, it's like a dream :) I love that carefree road trip feeling! You you, a map, a road, and adventures up ahead! Can't wait for the next installment :)

Ben said...

I found your blog from boots and all. I must say you have a keen eye for good pictures. I read through your travelogues and you have the passion and wonder of a child. Reading your posts lifts me up!

christine said...

Garrett, you need to get your ass to the wine country! It's stunning and I know you'd love the wineries there. And yes, I did love the flank steak, so much in fact that I'm grilling some in the morning to bring with me to work again. :) Thanks a bunch for the recipe!

Hey cookingchat, so nice to see you here! That place sounds beautiful, i'll have to check it out whenI go back. I've never spent the night in the wine country and I would really like to. Waking up to beautiful views and all that good food within arm's reach seems so dreamy.

Jo, you know it! I felt like Thelma, or maybe Louise. Who was the nag? That was me! And you would particularly like the next installment, olives and cheese! :D

christine said...

Ben, wow, thank you so much for your comment, it absolutely made my day! That was so very kind of you. It's such a nice feeling to know that some of what I write touched someone's life. Thank you again. :)

Mimi said...

What a lovely blog! I will be back for more lurking and reading.

I agree with Ben.

christine said...

Mimi, thank you for your kind words! :) And I'm glad you left a note, which led me to your lovely blog!

Susan said...

I would call it tremendous experience, it was like a dream..!!
starting from nice weather, good roads, food and wine hunting. Never forget that trip.

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christine said...

Like a dream, that sounds about right. :)