Posted from Glen Ellen, CA
After an uncharacteristic spring and summer of mostly dreary skies and steady rain in North Carolina, California looks and feels like the promised land. We arrived at the San Francisco airport under an azure sky, a blazing sun, and a temperature promising to reach the high 80s with low humidity.
As we drove north on Highway 101, we pulled over at the Marin Headlands for the heart-stopping view of the city by the bay. Further left, we saw sailboats from the America’s Cup executing maneuvers, but the fabled fog limited our visibility. No matter. Once we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, the sky was again clear all the way to Sonoma Valley.
The ground cover on the surrounding hills bore their normal bleached out look, as summer is the dry season in Sonoma Valley. Acres upon acres of regimented rows of grape vines offered verdant testimony to an economy based on winemaking, while the entrance signs of the wineries bore such iconic names as Cline, Kunde, and B.R. Cohn.
We stopped in Kenwood first for a quick lunch on the patio of Café Citti, a family-run Italian trattoria, before heading to our home away from home in Glen Ellen.
The cottage, called the Vineyard Gatehouse, is a quaint, Victorian-era single-story home set in the Valley of the Moon between Sonoma Mountain and the Maycamas Ridge. It features a modern kitchen, living/dining room, master and guest bedrooms with separate bathrooms, and a wrap-around porch on two sides. Large trees screen the yard. According to our landlord’s posting on the airbnb website, the cottage sits at the gateway to the oldest varietal vineyard in Sonoma County.
We discovered a welcome basket left by our friends, Penny and Gil, which included fruit, bread, cheese, and a bottle of Radio-Coteau pinot noir. That provided the makings for dinner, along with some additional provisions we purchased at a seasonal farm stand at Oak Hill Farm and Glen Ellen Village Market.
New to us from the basket was padron peppers. We prepared them according to Penny’s direction: blister them on a grill, season with sea salt, take hold of a stem, and bite. It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette. Most peppers taste mildly sweet, but then a random one bites you back with an unexpected rush of heat. It felt like an initiation into valley living.