Vowing to get the trip back on track, we arose early (despite a night of brutal pain in my knee and thumb) and had some very tasty breakfast. Nellie decided to take another stab at being the designated driver and began to shuttle me around to some Sonoma wineries. We tried Loxton Winery, which was highly enjoyable. I was determined to take home a Pinot Noir, and theirs was quite good, so we bought one of their last bottles. When our server heard it would be one of the four we’d bring back to Canada with us out of the dozens we’d tried, she had the winemaker sign the bottle. We drove past the cheeky little road signs on their driveway with our fourth of four and felt good about the start to our day.

Our next stop was down the road at Kaz Vineyard & Winery, which our little Back Lanes book described as being very laid back. It came exactly as advertised. Their tasting room was already decked out for Hallowe’en, and they had plenty of different wines. I don’t just mean a variety, I mean they had blends and varietals we’d not tried anywhere on this trip. We eventually settled on a 100% Lenoir, partly because we thought it might be the only one of those we ever see, and partly because we thought it would go well with lunch. It did, as it turns out — we picked up some pasta from Cafe Citti on the way back to the hotel, found ourselves a picnic table and ate lunch on a perfect California day. Oh, one other awesome point about Citti: they sell several Russian River beers. They had a few in bottles, but not Pliny The Elder (the #2-ranked beer in the world). Nonetheless, the guy behind the counter just pulled me a little sample while we waited for our order. Awesome! Between the food, the beer and the service I can pretty much guarantee we’ll be back to Citti on our next trip.

Thus ended the busy part of our trip. We spent the entire afternoon swimming, drinking wine under a tree, reading by the pool, rescuing a drowning honeybee and generally relaxing on a perfect afternoon. We even saw a family of deer grazing across a dry riverbed. It’s not often I could describe a hotel as being idyllic, but…this might just be.

It’ll be hard to leave tomorrow, but at least we’re leaving Napa and Sonoma on a high note. It was looking bleak for a while there.

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