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The Delicious Tastes of Russian River Valley

Apr 21, 2012 | 3 comments

Last weekend was my birthday, and we decided to go with our best friends up to the wine country for the weekend. Living in San Francisco means we have plenty of wine country within an hour’s drive, and this time we chose to head to the Russian River area to sample some of the amazing Pinot Noir’s from that area, and of course, to enjoy some of the great local restaurants there.

I could tell you everywhere we went and visited, and describe each one, but I’ll just give you the highlights.

That first day, we had lunch at the Underwood Bar & Bistro, which was awesome. Located in Graton, they had great food and a wonderful patio so we could enjoy the great weather. The four of us shared a bunch of fun plates, including the pizzetta with arugula, ham and a fried egg; the harissa fries; hoisin baby back ribs and the Korean BBQ beef. Yummy!  We also shared a great bottle of rose from the Loire to make the meal all the better. Definitely recommend going to this spot if you are in the area.

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After lunch we went to Merry Edwards winery, where we each bought a case of wine. The Pinot Noir is spectacular (particularly the Russian River Pinot and the Klopp Ranch Pinot). Then we stopped at a couple spots not worth mentioning, but rounded out the day at Rochioli. What a great spot! Once again, the Pinot Noir was the standout. Some of that wine made it home with us, too. 🙂

That night, to celebrate my bday, we had dinner at Farmhouse Restaurant in Forestville. WOW! The atmosphere, food, presentation and wine were spectacular. Definitely deserving of the high rating it gets in Zagat and the michelin starred chef! We all had ridiculously good starters (sashimi, foie fras, octopus) and the main courses were to die for. Their specialty is Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit (rabbit served three ways), but I don’t think you’ll go wrong with anything on the menu.

We spent the night at the Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville, which is a very cute, small and modern little hotel right off the main drag. Great spot with a lovely pool and grounds. And once we woke up the next day, it was off to more wine tasting! We bought wine from Joseph Swan (Rhone style wines), and visited Marimar Torres (just okay), but the find of the entire trip was Copain. This place is amazing. The wines are Rhone style, incredibly elegant, lighter in alcohol than a lot of today’s California wines, and just…well, delicious. They make a fabulous Provencal style rose, Pinot Noir and Syrah, all of which are amazing. I think we each brought home 3 cases of their wines, and signed up for their mailing list. The wines are pretty small production, so you won’t find them outside the winery and restaurants, but you can order them online and by phone. I absolutely recommend you try this wine. What a find!

We did manage to fit in a lunch on Sunday at the Smokehouse BBQ spot in Sebastapol. Great BBQ done right – low and slow. We had ribs, brisket and pulled pork, all of which were great. Along with some slaw, mac and cheese, and cornbread, we were all really satisfied, sticky fingers and all.

A fantastic birthday foodie weekend…I absolutely enjoyed turning a year older. 🙂

Bon appetit!



  1. Michelle Rogers


    Love your food blog! So fun to read.

    Happen to pop into Costco’s Nashua, NH as their Veuve Clicquot prices are the best in the area, beats even NH Liquor Store prices . I happen to see Copain Pinot Noir – would have walked past as my Costco’s wine venture is usually to stack up on Veuve….however as I read your blog previously decided to pick up a few bottles….after tasting one bottle went back for a case…..needless to say, Copain has a new fan.

    Keep your blogs comin’


  2. Beverly Shepherd

    Hi Whitney and Eric!

    So great to spend so much time with you in Anguilla.

    We love the RRV area and spend 2 weekends a year up there at wine pick-up weekends at Williams Selyem. We should have you join us in the fall. We’ve been to several of the restaurants you mentioned and stayed once at Farmhouse. Some other good restaurants are Barndiva and Scopa in Healdsburg and Willow Market in Graton. Love the blog.

    Warm Regards,
    Bev and Steve

    • Whitney

      Bev and Steve — we loved our time with you, too! We are also long-time Williams-Selyem fans, so have been there often as well, and would love to join up for our next trip there. And funny you should mention Barndiva and Scopa – my cousin was most recently manager at Barndiva and is now at Scopa. Funny coincidence…We’ll get together very soon!


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