The Traveling Steve's

Wine fine weekend in Sonoma part 1

Slept in a bit this morning until 8am.  Actually I woke up at 4:30am due to the East Coast time change, but fell back asleep fortunately.  Had breakfast downstairs at the logo_brand_GIHilton Garden Inn Sacramento with Dos.  The breakfast was better than the average Hilton Garden Inn, and was quite nice.  After breakfast we took the 10am shuttle to the airport to get our rental car, after first dropping off a trio of people going to the Sacramento Music Festival which was going on in town.  2015-SMF-Logo-WebThe hotel was full in fact with the Sacramento Music Festival attendees and performers.  The car rental is a separate facility from the terminal in Sacramento, but the shuttle driver dropped us off at the rental spot.

We rented a KIA Suv, for the bargain rate of $3.53 for 3 days, courtesy of my free National Car rental days; only paying some sort of tax or facility fee.  We then drove to Sonoma County where we are staying for the next couple nights.
Since checkin at the Ledson Hotel wasn’t until 3pm, we decided to venture up to Healdsburg to tour Rodney Strong Vineyards.  I had been there once years ago, but it’s a bit far to drive when we’re in Sonoma/Napa so I haven’t been back there in years.  I had bought a cheese tray there with the Rodney Strong logo previously, and wanted to replace it as it was long gone; plus we really like the Rodney Strong wines.

We encountered quite a bit of traffic from Sacramento to Healdsburg due to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but we weren’t in a rush to get there, so it wasn’t bad.

We even stopped at an IN-N-OUT Burger along the way – it was a first for Steve, and he loved it!

IMG_2991 IN-N-OUT Burger is a California tradition, and is always busy due to the great quality of food, prices, and service.  Dos liked it so much, he bought us each an IN-N_OUT Burger Tshirt after we ate!  IMG_2989 I like that they are a Christian company and pay their employees well.  The employees are all very courteous and the food is great!  IN-N-OUT trivia: On the inside rim of the soda cups, you will see a small discreet Bible verse number: John 3:16.



After IN-N-OUT Burger we drove to Rodney Strong Vineyards , arriving around 2pm.  IMG_3003We had a really enjoyable and leisurely tasting as it wasn’t very crowded when we were there. IMG_2995 We ended up joining their wine club, and ordered our first shipment to be delivered next week.  While most wineries now ship to Florida, you still have to be IMG_2998present to sign for the delivery, certifying you are over 21 years of age.  As I’m out of town a lot for work, we had it sent to Steve Dos’s address in Sarasota.

We did take with us a couple of the ceramic trivets, and a Rodney Strong cap for me, both of which we  collect.

Next we started our drive back to downtown Sonoma (about 45 minutes away with traffic), and stopped at Kendall Jackson winery on the way (Dos is the designated driver for us.)  I’m not really a fan of Kendall Jackson, but as it’s a large and famous winery, IMG_3017wanted to see it and get a trivet at least, which we did, as well as a bottle of ‘Reserve’ Cabernet.  IMG_3020Kendall Jackson seems to have every wine they sell listed as ‘Reserve’ which tends to diminish the image of quality wines for them, as everything can’t be ‘Reserve’!  The winery tasting room definitely had a more mass market feel, and while it was a nice (and crowded) tasting room, we didn’t care for the overall product; i.e. the wines themselves. IMG_3014 IMG_3013 IMG_3026

Kendall Jackson does have beautiful grounds, and there was actually a wedding that had just been performed as we drove up; judging by the brides’ dress and attendants. It was a beautiful day for a wedding, if not a bit of vino tasting.

After leaving Kendall Jackson, we drove to the Ledson Hotel in Sonoma.  DSC02753If you could sum this place up in one word, it would be “Extraordinary!”   Followed by “Outstanding”, “one of a kind”, “meticulous attention to details”, “decadent luxury”, “outstanding service”, and “super friendly staff”.  We had been to Ledson winery a couple times previously, but had never stayed at this property in downtown Sonoma.  It truly is a gem, located right in the center of town, across from the large town square.  This six room property has the feel of staying in a castle; i.e. the Ledson Castle, with all of it’s custom enhancements; i.e. arched doors, Venetian plaster walls and ceilings, custom woodwork ceilings, fancy bath fixtures and vanity, high quality robes – we wished we had more than two days!


When you walk in, gentle music is playing in the bedroom and bathroom, DSC02763the gas fireplace is ready to go, DSC02769the jacuzzi tub is inviting,

DSC02770 DSC02748

DSC02744the chandeliers are grand, and the curtains leading to the balcony look like something out of Cinderella’s Castle! And of course the bed freshly made with high quality linens, spreads, and comfy pillows made for quite a grand welcome!


We were a bit rushed after our two Healdsburg stops, however, and quickly showered and changed clothes as we had a 6:30pm food and wine pairing dinner at the hotel.

We then headed walked down IMG_3030the one flight of stairs to the hotel lobby, although we did take the quaint elevator up DSC02799when we checked in with our luggage.


Our “Private Event” dinner for 7 of us was about to start!  To be continued . . .  DSC02774

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