Here’s a picture taken of our family while visiting Domaine Drouhin yesterday.
Wine Tasting! Something we actually know something about was the theme for the day on Friday with the Family. With an early start, 8:15 AM, we headed out to our first stop at Domaine Drouhin Oregon. This wine producer uses the theme “French Soul, Oregon Soil” as they are from France with a very long history producing Burgundy wines and came to Oregon in 1987 and set up shop. After 30 years they have produced a number of really interesting wines with the focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (really Pinot is the main thing in my opinion).
Our group of 43 folks were met at the winery and taken to an outdoor area with lovely shade trees overlooking the vineyard and tasted through 5 different wines.
All in all a wonderful way to start the morning.
After finishing our tasting, we headed over to Stoller Vineyards for another delightful tasting where we all had a sack lunch from the Red Hills Market.
From there off to Roco Winery and our final spot for the day.
After a leisurely drive back to Gleneden Beach a nice dinner and family sing along was part of a birthday celebration for several of our group.
The last couple of days have been focused on family. A gathering of cousins and their kids had been in the planning for the better part of a year. This involved joining three branches of the family on my (Neyman) mother’s side. My mother had two brothers – Ted and Bob. Between them they had a total of 8 kids. These “kids” are my cousins and we have gathered together to catch up, share stories and photos and have a good time. This includes my three siblings – Georgia, Richard and Marilynn and their grown children and grandchildren. During a head count at dinner tonight, we totaled 47 people!
Several have come from great distances: Kathee N. from New York state, Bill N. and Jason L. from Virginia, Roy N. parked his boat in Tahiti and flew in to join the group. All in all we are a great bunch of people. It is really neat to get to know some of the second and third generations who have joined with us here on the Coast of Oregon, the oldest being 78, and the youngest, 2.
On Sunday, with Janeen driving, we left Fortuna CA, unrecognized sister to famous Ferndale CA (Victorian Gingerbread guardian of Avenue of the Giants, Redwoods Trails), we headed North along 101 coast route crossing the Klamath River Bridge. At each end of the bridge are gold painted bears.
The Golden Bears on the Klamath River Bridge weren’t always golden. Sometime in the late 50’s or early 60’s mysteriously the cement bears on the old bridge would turn golden over-night. Despite efforts of the State Highway Department with buckets of turpentine swabbing off that golden color, overnight the bears would be returned to their golden hue.
Midday, we stopped at Gold Beach along the Rogue River for a seafood lunch at the Port Hole Café.
From there more redwoods, road construction and , ultimately ,to Coos Bay , Oregon for the night.
Monday morning, bright and early, we hit the road to Eugene to visit with Cousin Barbara Lee and her husband John Costello who hosted us for the evening.
After an afternoon snacks, we went out for a quick tour of the City including a visit to OSU campus, the neighboring town of Springfield (hometown of Ken Kesey author and LSD ‘hippy’ and Matt Groening the Simpsons creator) then an afternoon beverage along the Willamette River at a lovely spot outside McMenamins by the River.
After a wonderful breakfast – thank you John – we headed out on the next day of our adventure.
Our very good (and old) friend Joel raves about King Estate Winery all the time so we had to visit.
Although the winery is about 30 minutes out of Eugene, and not really on our route to Gleneden Beach, it was well worth the extra time to cycle past. It is on top of a hill surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills.
The lavender was in full bloom. Gorgeous!
We started off in the tasting room sampling most of their releases – including some not on the tasting menu.
Apparently they are well known for their Pinot Gris – which seems to be one of the largest production wines. They also do Pinot Noir, Chardonnay from the estate and Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Syrah and Viognier sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley. With an overall case production in the 350,000 range they are a very large producer and distribute to all 50 states and several foreign countries.
After tasting we went out to the patio for lunch. With a cold bottle of Viognier we enjoyed a starter of warm country olives followed by potato cakes with herb crusted pork belly with jam and herbs and a pulled pork shoulder with apple butter glaze, potato roll, sharp cheddar, coleslaw and sweet potato frites. Everything was quite delicious and, as we so often do, we had them split the items into 2 servings which was plenty.
After lunch we headed back north winding our way through the back roads ultimately getting to the Oregon Coast (again) and route 101 North to Gleneden Beach and The Beachcombers Haven for the gathering of Cousins.
Saturday turned into a big circle drive – see the highlighted ‘loop’ below.
We started out in Fortuna and made our way to Ferndale to walk amongst the Victorian storefronts on Main Street and to get a feel for this city. Ferndale contains dozens of well-preserved Victorian storefronts and homes.
Ferndale, sometimes referred to as “Cream City”, is known for well-preserved Victorian store-fronts on main street and homes throughout the community, which are also known as “Butterfat Palaces,” due to their construction wherein considerable wealth was generated in the dairy industry. Many of these buildings date from the 1880s.
We also ventured into the Ferndale Museum that has various exhibits and artifacts documenting the community.
This included an old switchboard – Pacific Telephone toll board and various telephone devices. All we needed was Lilly Tomlin to be sitting in front of it!
One of the permanent displays includes a seismograph. This was placed in the building 1962 after a long use at UC Berkeley and has been maintained every since. It continues to operate and record earthquakes from all over the world and the device is serviced on a weekly basis – changing the recording paper and oiling the device.
After walking around Ferndale, we decided to head towards Cape Mendocino. This area of the coast is the westernmost point on the coast of California. The road wound through the forests up and over a couple of coastal mountains and in areas had been washed out. So not such a good road. As we topped one rise and could see the ocean, the clouds were beautiful as they came in the valley.
The coastline in this area was wind swept and without any improvements as this part of the coast seems to have been forgotten.
A travel magazine has called this area “too lovely to be believed, perhaps too beautiful to last.” It has been recognized as the top “still wild” place in California. The area is the only significant stretch of California without a shoreline highway, and so far has “thus escaped tourism’s aggressive paws.”
Close to the coastline is which is a small town with the claim to fame as the site of the first oil well drilled in California. Not much else there – unless you consider all the area where I’m certain marijuana is grown. Further along the loop road we took was the even small town of Honeydew.
After a quick pit stop, we continued on our travels through more redwoods and beautiful coastal countryside. The only downfall of this overall loop was the road conditions – constantly running into areas where the road has washed out, been destroyed by earth movement and generally it sucked.
Today was a travel day – so we backed up and headed out from Beth’s home in Sonoma heading north – to Fortuna. As we had lots of time, we hooked a left on route 128 at Cloverdale and wound our way through the coastal mountains, past redwoods and a BUNCH of different wineries. The views were wonderful and the cooling winds delightful. The only winery we decided to stop at was Roederer – they make sparkling wine.
Roederer Estate Brut is the first sparkling wine to be produced by the French Champagne house of Louis Roederer. With a 200-year tradition in France, it seemed like a good idea to start a project in the ‘new world’ and they purchased land, planted grapes and started the process in 1982. Over the years various changes have occurred but in large part they have kept to the traditions of Champagne region. Now operated by the son of the founder, Frédéric Rouzaud, four basic sparkling wines are produced. As it was lunchtime, and warm, it seemed fitting to have a bottle of their Brut Rosé Multi Vintage with our cheese, crackers and fruit.
The setting on the patio was nice with a bunch of lavender blooming near us that was alive with bees.
After finishing our lunch, and picking up a couple of extra bottles for later, we got back into the car and headed to Route 1 and the coast. Along the way there were of course large trees, tunnels of trees over the road, beautiful sights to see for sure.
Once going along the coast, again the views were spectacular with clear beaches, rocky shores and cool breezes. Not sure I’d want to be here in the winter months but right now it was lovely.
We are now in our hotel for the evening (altho I think we might go get something to eat) and tomorrow will explore the area around Fortuna and Ferndale.
Every so often it is critical to take a rest and look back to see what’s happened and to consider the days ahead. It has been 2 weeks since we drove away from our home in Alhambra. During that time we have visited with great friends – Claudia in Morro Bay, Pete and Jaynese in Lafayette, Myrt in the Bay Area, my sister Georgia and Liz in Cupertino, Susie in Marin area and now Beth in Sonoma. At every stop it has been a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends, create new memories and have wonderful times together.
Today is no exception – we will be having lunch with our wine making friends Kirk
(WesMarWinery.com – great small batch Pinot Noir) and getting ready for the next push up the coast.
For a late lunch, we met up with our friends Kirk and Denise of WesMar Winery along with Beth
for lunch at a fairly new spot called Gravenstein Grill. We shared a fantastic bottle of 2011 Chardonnay and a 2007 Pinot Noir both from their winery.
After a couple of hours and lots of conversations we had to leave for other commitments.
Tomorrow we pack up our car (which is filled from the back of the front seats to the tail gate) and drive along Hwy 101 to Fortuna amongst the redwood giants. While there, we will explore the coast, Eureka and, who knows, maybe discover something new! From there, staying on Hwy 101, we go to Coos Bay Oregon for a night prior to heading inland to stay with my cousin Barbara in Eugene.
So, stay tuned, more pictures and updates as we move along.
To celebrate the Fourth of July, we walked down the street to the Plaza and watched the old-fashioned style celebration in Sonoma. Starting at 10:00 a.m. it had marching bands, fun floats and just about anyone seemed to be able to enter the parade.
The start of the parade was very colorful and of course there was a fire engine or three, horses and a stagecoach, decorated cars, various floats, a blueberry producer passing out his crop and of course a wine trolley.
I would have to say we had a wonderful time celebrating with the locals around the Sonoma plaza.
On the historic plaza, there was live music and games all day long along with food, beer, and wine. Of course, at dusk, there was a fireworks show that seemed to go on for an hour!
After the parade, we went with Beth to a neighborhood picnic and met a bunch of folks, drank some nice wines and had burgers. All in all a wonderful celebration.
On Monday, we headed out with our friend Beth to Healdsburg to have lunch at Bravas. This place may not look like much from the outside as it’s a little house across from a strip mall, however, as soon as you walk in a wonderful journey begins. The outside courtyard is lovely with an open fire pit that wasn’t cooking today but normally cooks the days vegetable offerings and large pan Paella. Once we got settled at our table in the patio, we ordered a pitcher of White – Cava Sangria, some bacon wrapped dates with Blue Chees and Marcona Almonds plus a serving of Shiitake Mushrooms Escabeche – toasted ciabatta with smoked sea salt. The Sangria was WONDERFUL (we ended up with two pitchers) and the dates and mushrooms were very tasty.
However, the main course was the Paella. We ordered enough to share plus, as it turns out, to take home; it came with all the right things and was fantastic. I will admit, I had come specifically for the Paella and I was NOT disappointed.
Tomorrow is the 4th of July and we are going to the parade around the Sonoma Square – it goes around 3 sides of the square so not very long and then to a picnic. Should be a wonderful time.
On Saturday evening, we went to Berkeley to the Gather Restaurant for a wonderful meal and then down the block to the Marsh Theatre to see DAUGHTER OF A GARBAGEMAN. This is a tale of Maureen Langan’s 1970’s upbringing in New Jersey. Her Irish mother and Bronx-born father, a New York City sanitation worker. She presented this one woman show talking about her upbringing and how her father and mother influenced her life. She was particularly upset by the fact that Kim Kardashian gets a book deal after doing a sex tap and when the star of The Apprentice can become the president? WHO IS TO BLAME? Is it her parents’ fault? America’s fault? With humor, honesty, and insight, Maureen taps into the hearts and frustrations of hard-working people everywhere who wonder if they, too, were raised wrong.
On Sunday we left our friends in Lafayette and met up with a very old family friend, Susie Dornin Johnson. Susie’s father was a classmate of my dads at the US Naval Academy and our paths crossed many times over the years. We spent a couple of hours catching up before heading to Sonoma and our friend Beth Harper.