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We picked up our rental car today so decided to make good use of it.  Firstly by driving over the Golden Gate bridge.  It really is as spectacular as you’d expect.  Scott had given us directions for the best view so we parked the car and climbed an old battery site to look back over the bridge.  Not bad.

After brunch at Hamilton Cafe in Novata, we continued to Kendall Jackson Vineyard in Sonoma Valley.  We discovered this wine thanks to Paul in New York last year and really enjoyed it – particularly the Merlot, so it was quite a treat to visit the vineyard in person. We toured their culinery garden where they experimented with different species of plants from around the world.  We were fascinated to learn that vines are grafted at the beginning of their life and so often use a different variety as their root stock.  This helps to stop disease by using a hardier root yet produce the fruit you desire.

Another part of the garden represented the favours that are often used to describe wine, so for example in the Pinor Noir section there were strawberries and raspberries.

Our tour guide was English – although had been in the states for 30 years +  She was quite fun and translated from American into English for us.  She also enjoyed chatting to Gavin about Chelsea football.  I’m not sure who got the most out of the tour – us or her.

We finished off at the vineyard with Food and Wine pairing.  We were given 4 wines and various foods to go with each.  Each combination really changed the way the wine tasted.  It was quite an eye opener.

Unfortunately it started raining – so hard we could hardley see at times as we went to the Petrified Forest.  I’d seen it on a sign and was intrigued to see what scared trees actually looked like.  Of course petrified refers to the fact that they have turned to stone due to a volcanic eruption many years ago. Thankfully the sun came out just as we arrived so there was no getting wet.

With time to spare before our dinner reservation we crossed to Napa Valley on a very scenic road and found the Beringer Vineyard which was having it’s final wine tasting before closing at 5pm.  I didn’t really enjoy any of their wines overly.

We drove further admiring the vineyards and their architecture which was quite outstanding until it was time for our dinner at the Culinary Institute of America.  Known as the world’s premier culinary college the food was outstanding and definitely worth the drive.

We completed our day by travelling back on the east side of the bay through Richmond and Berkely.