On first look, the Buttonwood tasting room appears to be like many others. A host pours your tastes from a wet bar and you’re free to shop their collection of wine-country merchandise. But take a closer look at their merchandise and a revelation occurs. These are not just your typical wine country nick knacks. The winemaker takes byproducts from the vineyard and winemaking process to develop mouthwatering culinary treats that embellish your recipes and probably make you live a healthier life. For example, after the juice is pressed out of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, she makes jelly. Chocolate sauce for your sweet tooth comes from cabernet and merlot. Who doesn’t love a little kick in their chocolate sauce!? Ever heard of green thinning? It is the process of going through the vineyard, picking any half ripened grapes that are a bit behind to ensure even ripening on the vine. Since these grapes are tart, their juice, called verjus, makes a flavorful alternative to vinegar and lemon juice in any recipe. And, yes, this winemaker makes her own verjus too!
I’d love to sit down with her and chat about her winnovations. But when is she going to find the time to do that between winemaking and leading a whole reusable vineyard movement. I’ll see if she’s got time after harvest. But, I recommend enjoying her many different styles of Sauvignon Blanc until I report back. The things I do for my readers!
The owner of the horse ranch brought me a dozen fresh laid eggs from the hen house just outside my guest house. She claims a diet of farm fresh eggs is how she stays in shape and keeps a sharp mind. Results like that speak for themselves. She’s had 5 kids and looks amazing. They call her Mother Goose or Goose for short. She’s also got a warm smiling face and infectious spirit.
She’s created quite an oasis here. It really is relaxing and peaceful just to be here. I’ve got a fully stocked kitchen, delightful front porch looking out at the horses, and a wide screen TV with DirectTV, which is the only reason I know the Giants are on a losing streak. But I’m calmed by my new ranch style attitude. Perhaps that’s Goose’s secret of life. I don’t think I’m going to be ready to leave this paradise in 15 days.
Bridlewood is worth a visit if not just for the architecture. In its history the site was an Arabian horse ranch and an equestrian rehab center. I guess celebrity rehab doesn’t take horses. But the place will remind you of a Spanish mission from its bell tower and sprawling courtyard and walkways. You’ll want to hang out and sip wine on the veranda. We chose the Cabernet Sauvignon because of its ripe fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and plum. Being from Paso Robles, the grapes saw some serious heat, which I hear cab loves so their flavors are pronounced, giving it character that even someone who is not a fan of this grape would enjoy. It’s also got backbone and structure with a bit of cocoa and molasses in the body.
Brunch at Dos Carlitos never disappoints with the most amazing huevos rancheros. Eggs on top of a delicious homemade tortilla with sprinkles of salty moist cheese soothe your soul. But it’s really the sauce that gives it that extra oomph. Don’t know what they put in it. Maybe just love. But it enhances the bold flavors of any dish. I’m told the sauce is also available on their burritos and chile rellenos.
Waking up every morning to bright warm sun never gets old. That’s not just a San Franciscan talkin. I grew up in Sunnyvale, which really lives up to its name most of the year. But this weather is very inspiring. I look forward to morning hikes in and around the ranch. It’s a pretty bucolic hood, though without sidewalks or pavement. I pass an alpaca farm and many other horse ranches; yet, I’m really the only person I see out walking. It seems the best and cheapest exercise to me but nobody else appears to agree. A few days ago a truck pulled over and the driver asked me if I needed a lift.
Took friends to a winery and happened to be wearing my Giants tank top. But the winemaker said I was brave to do so. Apparently, this is Dodger country. I would assume half and half seeing as I’m not even south of Santa Barbara in what’s well known as CENTRAL California, Central Coast to winemakers. Furthermore, what divides Central Cal from Southern Cal is north of Santa Barbara (Point Conception). A simple Google search confirms that fact. But, apparently, those lines don’t matter to baseball fans.
Renting a guest house on a 5 acre horse ranch could be culture shock to a San Franciscan but this one finds it feels like home. I must admit I know next to nothing about horses except that they are beautiful. I went horseback riding as a kid and loved it but don’t remember much other than you don’t approach them from behind. Sage advice for any life form, I suppose.
The woman who owns the place lives on the property full time and is really sweet. She’s already told me all I need to know. She’s got an apple tree in the front yard and she said I can pick whatever apples I’d like to eat but give the cores to the horses. Then, she showed me how to feed them. One of them is the friendliest horse I’ve ever encountered. She comes up to the fence when you pass by and talks to you. Well, I talk to her and she responds with a neigh sound. But I think we get each other. Like me, she likes to chat and meet new people.
Shout out to my good friend Smally Smalls for the blow up mattress loaner I’ve been sleeping on for the last 6 weeks. But doesn’t this look like heaven!?
The morning was dark, one of the first dark mornings during my stay here in paradise. Strange. I would be questioning why I’m even leaving but I’m excited for my next adventure. Still, I’ve got a lump in my throat driving away. I have a feeling I may be back for an extended stay.
Driving down to the Santa Ynez valley in the central coast just inland about halfway between Santa Barbara to the south and Santa Maria to the north, I am so excited to sleep in a bed tonight. But I suppose it’s the kind of excitement only a gypsy can feel.
Just in case you find yourself in Healdsburg without a television set, hands down best places for dinner and Giants game: The Wurst, Healdsburg Bar and Grill, Willy’s Seafood, and El Farolito. You don’t even have to ask them to change the channel. Serious Giants fans; strait up!