There are ground rules for the adventure date, but the most important one is that you don’t tell your date where you’re going. I’m not encouraging you to blindfold your date. Just don’t disclose your plans. Meanwhile keep your stash — the perfect wine and picnic fixins’ out of view.
Picnics can happen anywhere and the more creative we are, the better. Here are a few off-beat picnic settings to consider. Beach-lovers will enjoy driving to Occidental and then looking for a scenic point along Coleman Valley Road to pitch their blanket and uncork their wine. Urbanites may prefer finding a picnic table in the heart of Sebastopol’s The Barlow. There they can enjoy a glass of wine and a nosh before setting out for an afternoon of wine tasting, gallery-hopping and shopping right in that hip hub of commerce. (www.thebarlow.net) Art lovers, on the other hand, may like to picnic on the Sonoma Plaza before stepping into the Lisa Kristine Art Gallery. The gallery offers compelling photographs of indigenous populations. (www.lisakristine.com)
As for the wines to uncork, this list will stand up in any setting – the beach, The Barlow, the Sonoma Plaza, or any other chosen spot you can dream up. Just a tip: The wines will taste even better with a little suspense, so mums the word on your destination.
Tablas Creek Vineyard, 2014 Patelin de Tablas Rose, 13%, $20. (Look for the 2015 to roll onto the market soon.) A gorgeous rose with aromas and flavors of wild strawberry, watermelon and mineral. It’s tangy, crisp and clean, a striking combination.
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2015 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5%, $18. This dry sauvignon blanc is lovely. Notes of grapefruit, mineral and jalapeno. Just a hint of toast, but its bright acid dominates. Lovely.
Ritual, 2015 Casablanca Valley, Chile Sauvignon Blanc, 14%, $18. A sauvignon blanc that has floral aromas and tropical fruit on the palate. It has an oily texture, which takes you by surprise, but its crisp acidity trumps here. Solid.
Graziano, 2014 Mendocino County Chenin Blanc, 13.5%, $15. This is a tasty chenin blanc with notes of peaches, melon and a kiss of honey. It all rides of crisp acidity. Smart.
Kenwood Vineyards, 2014 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%, $12. A zesty sauvignon blanc with tasty notes of honeydew, lemongrass and citrus. It’s refreshing, and its bright acidity is what makes it a standout — particularly at this price point.