Enjoy these parting looks at some more memorable places from our extended stay in Glen Ellen, CA.
Gaige House is a secluded, peaceful, luxurious hideaway unobtrusively tucked back from the main street of Glen Ellen. This 23-room boutique hotel with its modern, Asian-inspired ambiance is one of 14 Four Sisters Inns properties in California, and a perennial favorite on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List. “We want to exceed out guests’ expectations, assist them without being overbearing, and provide a comfortable getaway where they feel refreshed when they return home,” said Rachel Retterer, general manager. Gaige House accomplishes its mission with such complimentary amenities as a full breakfast buffet, evening wine and cheese, freshly baked cookies, elegantly appointed and lavender-scented guest rooms, concierge service, and an outdoor swimming pool set amidst a verdant backdrop. Various massage treatments are available to help guests relax even further.
Weill Hall at Sonoma State University
Nestled within the Sonoma Mountains, Sonoma State University’s Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall in the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center is a stunning venue for live performances. The acoustics are incredible. It was tough deciding where to sit. Inside is multi-level seating surrounding the stage. Just outside the fully open back is table seating on the lawn, offering food and wine service and a fine stage view. Behind that is more lawn with a gentle slope for your blanket, picnic basket, or concession foods, along with a hi-def video screen of the stage. We opted for inside seats and enjoyed a rousing performance by the Grammy-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The organic and biodynamic gardens overflowing with produce and herbs provided a magical setting for an al fresco wine dinner at Quivira Winery in Dry Creek Valley. Upon arrival, we enjoyed live music and appetizers like mini curried crab and estate heirloom apple tacos paired with 2012 Fig Tree Sauvignon Blanc. In the Quivira cellar we had a component tasting of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. For our four-course dinner we were all seated at a single, long table. The menu: roasted sea scallops with sunchoke puree and caramelized estate pears paired with 2012 Refuge Sauvignon Blanc; Provencal garden terrine paired with 2010 Elusive Red-Rhone Blend; coffee rubbed filet of beef paired with 2011 Katz Vineyard Zinfandel; and bittersweet chocolate mousse with salted caramel cream paired with 2010 Late Harvest Zinfandel. Kudos to local chefs Mark Starkey and Greg Markey of Stark & Co. Catering for their garden-inspired menu, and to winemaker Hugh Chappelle for his artisan wines.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden
A 25-acre outdoor property in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains near Glen Ellen, Quarryhill Botanical Garden is one of the world’s preeminent botanical gardens dedicated to conserving, studying, and cultivating Asian flora. The well-over 20,000 plants are rare and endangered species, and are grown from seeds secured from seed-collecting trips done in partnership with botanical gardens worldwide. The setting is naturalistic. We strolled on winding, rolling gravel paths amidst flowering shrubs, shade trees, arbors, ponds with lily pads (reminiscent of Monet’s garden at Giverny), and waterfalls.
Wine Country Chocolates
When we needed gifts to take to friends who had invited us for dinner, we went to Wine Country Chocolates in Glen Ellen for their luscious sweets. Love their slogan – Chocolate. Uncorked. The store, owned by Betty and Caroline Kelly, mother and daughter, is known for its truffles. They use high-quality chocolates, cream, and butter to produce their ganache, which they flavor with local wines, fruit purees, and other ingredients. Happily, they provided samples of their ganache – super creamy, velvety smooth, and intensely flavored. What a taste of pure perfection.