|Jolan and Arpad at the Buena Vista winery|
Yesterday, I left the city of San Francisco behind and headed to the Sonoma Valley with my lovely Hungarian friends, Jolan and Arpad. I was so lucky that they were able to take time off work and drive so far to see me (they live in San Jose). Unfortunately, whenever we meet up, it never seems to be very nice weather ... in fact, the first time we met was on the top of Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) in China on a rainy and foggy day. But, we didn't let the weather stop us then and we didn't let it stop us yesterday.
|Wine cellars ... dug by the Chinese workers in the 1800s|
Our first stop was the Cline winery, where we explored a small museum showing the development of the Spanish missions that were built all the way up the coast from Mexico to just north of San Francisco. Our first tasting adventure was at the Buena Vista winery, which was actually founded by a Hungarian man, who is credited with being the 'father' of the Sonoma wine region. I found it fascinating to read his history ... Agoston Haraszthy was, like many Hungarian men, fiery and dramatic and certainly made a name for himself in the area, dabbling in a little bit of everything, before finally settling into wine making. Here, we tried several chardonnay and pinot noir wines, all of which were lovely.
|Ornate 1800s wine barrel|
|Governor Vallejo's house|
After this winery, we drove for a bit, enjoying the scenery from the dry car, as opposed to the incredibly wet outdoors. As we drove, a familiar and pungent hit my nose ... gum trees! The area was filled with them, towering gum trees everywhere. It was lucky that I'd only left Australia last week, otherwise, I would have felt homesick for certain.
We visited the small town of Sonoma, where we enjoyed a long, lazy lunch at a delicious Portuguese restaurant called LaSalette. I'd never eaten real Portuguese food before, so we had fun sampling all the national speciality dishes and wines.
|Lovely, mossy trees|
|Beautiful bird in the marsh lands|
In the afternoon, we headed to Governor Vallejo's house. He was the founder of the town of Sonoma and his daughter married the son of Haraszthy. In the early evening, just as we headed back to San Francisco, the rain and clouds began to lift and we finally were able to see some views. By the time we got back to the city, the sun was shining! Now, I just need to get my head into work mode, ready for the conference.
|Finally, a view of the hills|
|An old farmhouse|