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10:30 a.m. They’re here!
Having welcomed my ladies (Taylor, Emma, and Catie) to my teeny new apartment in Berkeley the day before, we hop in the car for the 50-minute drive to Sonoma. Soundtrack: Ed Sheeran’s new album, “Divide.” Eye candy: the dozens of vineyards and wineries along the way. Route 121 feels like a shopping aisle. (Susannah (left), with Taylor, Emma and Catie at Gundlach Bundschu)
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11:30 a.m. Arrive at the Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn
We chose this place for its fabulous location a block from Sonoma Plaza and for its low rate ($229 for a room with two queen beds). While not exactly deluxe, our room is clean, spacious and comes with a complimentary breakfast. Nonworking jacuzzi is the only down note. sonomavalleyinn.com
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12 p.m. Plan the day
First order of business is scrambling to make a dinner reservation. We luck into an 8 p.m. slot at our top choice, the girl & the fig. From our various corners of the U.S. we had all stumbled upon online reviews or received recommendations from friends that this restaurant was a must-go. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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After making restaurant reservation, we move on to choosing three tasting rooms to visit. Based on more internet prowling, advice from friends back home and a family connection, we agree on Gloria Ferrer, Gundlach Bundschu and the sunny patio at Roche Winery’s tasting room. (Photo courtesy of Gloria Ferrer)
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12:30 p.m. Lyft ladies reluctantly order an Uber
To head to Gloria Ferrer, we turn to our goto transportation app — but it seems that Lyft hasn’t made its full debut in Sonoma, with the closest ride lingering a full 30 minutes away. Fighting our #deleteuber urges, we re-download that app — and with thirst triumphing over conscience, we’re off. (Photo by Chris Hardy: Uber Driver Edric Jurado)
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Because the Gloria Ferrer tasting, at $25-30 per person, is the priciest of the three we’ve selected, Emma opts out of this one. She instead goes for a run on the Sonoma Overlook Trail, which she’ll later describe as complete with panoramic views of the valley and vacant of fellow runners — the perfect ingredients for a peaceful run.
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12:40 p.m. Tasting at Gloria Ferrer on the patio
We are in complete awe as we make our way up the grapevine-lined drive. We take a seat on the patio overlooking the entire vineyard — a jaw-dropping view to start the day. Surrounded by fellow wine tasters clad in lululemon yoga pants and designer sunglasses, we do our best to fit into what appears to be an elite Friday afternoon crowd. We each request a different fourglass tasting, and of course we share. Crowd favorite: the Brut Rosé. gloriaferrer.com. (Susannah, left, and Taylor, right, at Gloria Ferrer)
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2 p.m. Uber to Gundlach Bundschu
That’s right, time to GunBun. We pick up Emma at the hotel after her run and head to Gundlach Bundschu, which sparked our interest as one of the oldest wineries in the county. Tucked at the top of a hill, the tasting room has sweeping views of the massive vineyard. After a few photo ops, we head inside to start our second tasting. Happily surprised by the fee ($20 to taste five wines) we dive right in and make a friend along the way. Our “wine educator,” Zebi, serves up seven wines instead of five and gives us a Bundschu history lesson in the bargain. We learn that Zebi waits tables at the girl & the fig, and we make a plan to sit in his section that night. When we finally bid him adieu, our bellies are full of some of our favorite wine so far. Crowd fave: Tempranillo (one of our bonus wines, courtesy Zebi). gunbun.com (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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3:30 p.m. Settle in at Roche
Pretty hungry by this point, we are pleased to find out that our next stop, Roche Winery’s tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza, has a laidback vibe with picnic-style offerings. We gather up some cheese, salami and crackers and settle in for our third tasting of the day, $25 for six wines. We couldn’t choose a crowd favorite here, as we got into a minor battle over whites vs. reds. Dispute resolved in an even split, with two preferring the stainless steel-fermented Chardonnay and the other two the Carneros Merlot. rochewinery.com. (Photo: A Savvy Lifestyle)
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5:30 p.m. Naps, and primping...
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8 p.m. Dinner at the girl & the fig
When we arrive at the girl & the fig we start to ask for Zebi as our waiter, but it looks like he was one step ahead of us since we’re brought right to a table in his section. (That millennial tendency to network has worked in our favor yet again.) We get seated on the covered patio and are greeted with a free cheese plate. We take in the calm scene of relaxed diners at candlelit tables and have a good group laugh at the Barbie and Ken dolls hung on the walls to mark the men’s and women’s restrooms. (Photo by Alvin Jornada: Fig and arugula salad at The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma)
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At this point, wine fatigue has set in, and we are relieved to see a number of craft beers on the menu. We grub on salads, burgers and mussels, and by the end of the meal we’re so stuffed we don’t think there’s room for more. Zebi won’t hear of it, and soon enough we’re enjoying a crème brûlée on the house. Dinner is a total hit — the food, ambiance and service certainly live up to the hype! thegirlandthefig.com (Photo by Steven Krause/Plats du Jour)
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10 p.m. Champagne or Bedtime?
Earlier in the day, we’d made an ambitious plan to hit SIGH for Champagne. We were particularly drawn to it after learning that the “sigh” of its name represents the sound a bottle makes when the cork escapes. But despite our best intentions, we are Just. Too. Tired. We drift off to sleep soon after getting back to our room. (Photo by Chris Hardy: Jayme Powell of Sigh Bubbly champagne bar in Sonoma)
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Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Wake up and gorge on a complimentary breakfast. Another nice perk of our hotel. (Stock photo)
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10:15 a.m. See the sights, hit the shops
Finally we have time to just meander around the town square. We check out Mission San Francisco Solano, the Sonoma Barracks, Bella Vita vintage clothing, the Sonoma Market (where we gorge on free cheese samples), the Tiddle E. Winks eclectic knickknack shop and Harvest Home. Our final stop is Lisa Kristine’s gorgeous photo gallery, where we linger longest. (Photo courtesy of Bella Vita Sonoma)
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11:30 a.m. Check out and head to Fremont Diner
We’d been told by our Uber drivers and fellow wine tasters alike that our journey wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the Fremont Diner. Judging from the one-hour wait time, we are not the only ones to get this tip! Instead of waiting for a table, we opt for a drink out back where a small tin trailer serves up drinks to the waiting hungry customers.
The trailer offers to-go food with half the wait time, but an iced coffee and a little sunbathing on the Adirondack chairs tides us over for now. thefremontdiner.com (Photo by John Burgess: Chad Harris, owner of the Fremont Diner in Sonoma)
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12 p.m. Back on the road
We’re already planning a return trip. Sonoma did us well! (Photo by Kent Porter)