A Tour of Wine Country

Benzinger Winery John Deere Tractor

In February 2013 I took a trip with my wonderful sister and toured northern California wine country. It was certainly the trip of a lifetime! We drank our way through Sonoma Valley, Mendocino, and Sacramento. We visited a number of wineries. Since it was the off-season, we waltzed up to each tasting bar without fighting any crowds.

Sonoma Valley

Sonoma's Best Cottages

In Sonoma, we stayed at Sonoma’s Best Cottages. It was a beautiful set of cottages located right behind a grocery store with an excellent wine and cheese selection.

Buena Vista Winery

There were a number of different wineries within biking distance of our cottage. Buena Vista was our first stop. It boasted beautiful architecture and a long line of history.

cork cow

While touring downtown Sonoma, we found a few ideas of what to do with all our corks we had been hoarding.

On our way out of Sonoma, we stopped at Benziger Family Winery, which came highly recommended. We took a tour of the grounds on which we learned about the growing, harvesting, and wine-making process.

Benzinger Winery John Deere Tractor

Benziger is also a biodynamic winery, which made the tour even more fascinating to learn about how they use specific plants to draw insects away from the vineyards, animals to fertilize, and many other natural solutions.


Mendocino County is said to be an up-and-coming wine region of California. The wine we tasted was only surpassed by the views offered.

From Sonoma we took Highway 1 to Mendocino. It was of course full of twists and turns, our rental car nearly broke down, and we had some close encounters with cows along the road. (Seriously. You don’t even get that in Indiana. You have to actually go into a field and over a fence to tip one of those beasts here.)

Alas, it was all part of the adventure! The scenery was definitely worth the multiple missed heart beats.

Hill House at Cabot Cove

We finally made it to the hotel after dark. And, it was DARK. It didn’t help that our hotel had been featured in Murder, She Wrote.

Not nearly as creepy in the light of the next day.


The weather was very mild; near freezing in the early AM, but it warmed up to the 50’s by the afternoon. Perfect hiking weather!

Mendocino State Park

Just. Gorgeous.

One of my 30 By 30 goals was to learn more about wine, and this trip gave me the perfect opportunity to do just that. Wine tasting experiences bring new knowledge from each winery. Touring a winery or vineyard brings even more knowledge. If you are looking to learn more about wine in a hands-on environment without traveling to California wine country, visit a winery near you. If there isn’t one nearby, a wine bar or even high-end bar will also offer an environment to try different wines and learn more from the sommeliers on staff.

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